Lake Tahoe

“I found no place whereon I could stand. I worked a charm upon my own heart.”


“So we get to Tahoe, he says he has a boat.

He doesn’t. His friend has the boat.

He made it sound like his,”

she makes careful note.


“Wait, what does he do again?”


“Some start-up in Reno, front-end design.

And there’s seven of us in this dinghy,

this little bowrider, and one ice-chest,

hardly any beer in there for the afternoon

or the fireworks.”


“Oh, how was it?”


“I could’ve used more to drink.”


“No, the fireworks.”


“Okay, I guess.”


“That’s what I thought. I went last year.

It was crowded.”


“Way too many people.”

She gives the word “way” its own paragraph.

“We were basically stalled in the water.

He gives it some gas, but they have

to tow us into Cave Rock.”




“He says it’s got to do with the motor,

but I don’t think he knew what it was.

Some people try so hard, they try so hard.”


“That’s a shame. He seemed nice.”


“I know. I was hoping.”


“I know,” the other groans. “You can never tell.”


“They make the beach seem so romantic.”


“Where did you two go?”


“Kiva,” she says.

Her friend hums along ambiguously,

as if she might know the implication.

“Zephyr was packed. He insisted

we find somewhere quiet, because

he likes to lay down and watch them.”


“Oh my god,” dragging god along her tongue.


“I know. I’d only had a couple beers.

We met some kids near the creek.

I made nice and got a joint out of it.

He doesn’t smoke, but I needed something.”


“Who doesn’t smoke?”


“He gave me a look, too,

a so-you’re-that-kind-of-girl look. And you’re

the sort of guy who loves fireworks?”




She halts as if approaching some precipice,

ready to launch her next words over the cliff:

“I know.”


“That’s a shame. He looked fun.”


“If you’re ever considering it, don’t.

They make it seem like a good idea,

but the sand gets everywhere.”


“I know. I met this guy last year

at Sundown Festival in Huntington.

We were right on the beach behind the mainstage.

You could see all the butts and empty baggies.

Nobody cared. Everyone looked like

big sea turtles tossing sand over their eggs.

Some of them were waist-deep in the shallows,

security wiggling flashlights at them

making sure nobody overdosed and

washed up face down the next morning.”


“You can’t put a towel down either,

not when he’s excavating you like that.

I knew it wasn’t going to be exactly the way

I’d imagined, but maybe if we took our time,

but all I could focus on were those lights

under Mount Tallac. All you had to do

was look long enough and you could see

our shadows weren’t moving exactly

like the surf, almost but not exactly.


“He finished on my thigh of all places.

I got up and walked into the lake,

it felt like bits of jellyfish.

I’m sure someone saw me washing off.

I couldn’t find my top anywhere,

so I gave the towel a few shakes

and used it as a shawl. Then I saw

this person standing across the way,

standing by himself, all alone,

I knew he must’ve been watching.

Do you know what I did?

I flipped my hair forward

and wrapped it up in the towel,

and let him stare at my chest.

I angled toward the fireworks

so he could see. I thought,

at least someone should get something,

otherwise it felt like a big waste of time.

At least let someone get the wrong idea.”


Her friend replies with abrasive enthusiasm,

“God I know.”

R. Charboneau

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