They’d ‘borrowed’ a boat a few times before. Always on a clear summer’s night around midnight. They would row to Candela Island and lay underneath the stars, watching and waiting for the meteor showers. There was virtually no light pollution on the island. It was the perfect spot for stargazing.
They knew it was wrong to take the boat as it belonged to the ‘Boat Shed’ but they were always careful to return it to exactly the same spot.
They stole cautiously along the jetty until Adam came across a boat which was moored to one side of the wooden walkway. He untied it and they boarded. He deftly pushed off from the jetty using one of the oars and began to row towards the island.
Katy watched his strong shoulders and arms pulling against the oars as they made their way steadfastly across the lake. She felt lucky and excited to be part of his life.
The ‘Wolf’ moon illuminated the lake with an iridescent purple sheen and the sky was littered with glistening stars. She felt sure they would see some ‘fireballs’ darting across the wide expanse tonight.
She draped both arms over the sides of the boat and let her open fingers drag against the dark water. It felt warm and velvety.
Impetuously, Katy leant forward to kiss him but as her feet took more purchase on the bottom of the boat, she noticed that it was pooling with water.
Unbeknown to the couple, the ‘Boat Shed’ owner had been party to their midnight encounters and had purposely placed the boat conspicuously to one side of the jetty. He had also loosened both the drain plug and its housing.
He stood watching them silently through the window, taking small sips from his beer can and grinning as they took his boat and skulled ominously into the distance.
Stepping backwards out of the puddle Katy stood squarely on the loosened drain plug, pushing it and the housing out through the bottom of the boat. Her foot became inextricably lodged under the hull. The water gushed in.
Adam stood up immediately and grabbed her, interlocking his hands and pulling her upwards repeatedly to try and release her but she was stuck fast.
These exaggerated movements tipped the gunnels sidewards and the dinghy started to submerge.
Speechless Katy slid away from under him rapidly, her eyes imploring him to help, her outstretched arms and hands, clawing at him desperately.
He grasped at her fingers but they slipped from him, releasing into his palm the engagement ring that he had bought for her that summer. He held onto it tightly as the love of his life and the boat disappeared from under him.
Numbly, he turned on his back and began to kick slowly towards the island. He looked up at the sky above him, at the stars and the vastness. A shooting star flashed across diagonally.
Like his love for Katy, it had been short lived but burned brightly nevertheless.
Tim Kirton is a semi-retired Physical Education and English teacher who is a successful children’s novelist and prize-winning flash and short fiction writer. He is passionate about Golf, Arsenal, American Dirty Realism and Estuaries. He lives in the Peak District and has one son living in Australia.