The Lake in the Holler

I grew up in a holler next to a lake that looked just like a lake but was technically a reservoir since it was man-made. My dad would load 4-year-old me onto his motorcycle between him and the handlebars, and I would  try to cram my tiny legs further up my own ass with each of my dad’s warnings about the scalding, exposed tailpipe. Sometimes if Dad didn’t want Mom to know he was leaving, he would get the bike headed downhill without starting the engine. At the end of the driveway, he’d kick-start it, the noise as loud as a weed-eater, but at that point we were far enough away to pretend we didn’t hear Mom yelling at us to get back home from the porch. Once we got to the lake, the road turned into a mud path with large humps as if a flexible mud-being had been cursed solid while doing Pilates. We would zoom up the backs of the humps and then fly over the other side – my stomach went up and down so fast that it felt like it was in my throat one minute and in my feet the next. This was my favorite part of the lake when I was a kid. As I got older, I stopped fitting on the front of my dad’s motorcycle and had to move to the back. The tailpipe burned me multiple times back there, stinging like a wasp for hours afterward. Mom wouldn’t let me go to the lake to swim – she said it had AIDS. Mom thought everyone and everything had AIDS, but the real reason was because her friend Buddy had drowned when Mom was nine. Once I was 18, I moved away from the holler, but always came back for the lake. We would throw parties there, swimming in water as warm as dishwater all day, skinny-dipping at night, my large, pale backside reflecting almost as much light as the moon. Then we’d lay on the bank next to a bonfire and dry off until it was time to go crash at a nearby house…

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