One summer day, I remember riding up to the island where we were going to camp. It was a hot day and the breeze felt nice; the water splashing up in our faces as the boat sailed across the water was even better. As we came up to the island, I noticed a dead fish floating on top of the water.
That was weird, I thought to myself but quickly shook it off. We were here! Little did I know that fish was an omen.
We spent the day splashing in the lake and when nightfall came, we popped our tents up. There were three of them. We also tied our tarps up in the trees to keep the rain from ruining our stuff overnight. I know now rain was the least of our worries. I remember glancing across the lake, right before the sun completely disappeared. There, floating in the water across from me, was that same fish.
Again, I shrugged it off and crawled inside my tent. Everyone settled in for the night; the campfire was still going but it wasn’t blazing by any means. I had laid there about ten minutes when everyone in the second tent started screaming.
There was a commotion and the adults in my tent jumped up to see what was happening.
Apparently, the others had built their tent on an ant hill; and the ants had found their way inside to deliver swift retribution. I remember hearing them scooting their tent across the sand as they knocked ants off them. Once they relocated, everyone settled in again.
Maybe about twenty minutes later, there was more yelling, and people were scurrying out of their tents in a hurry. I remember looking outside the tent door to see our campfire engulf something in the flames. Turns out one of the tarps we had rigged fell into the fire. So, everyone was rushing down to the shore to get water. One of the younger kids there had run to a steep part of the bank. When she bent down to get water in her can, she toppled over into the lake, prompting one of the adults to jump in after her.
I promise you; we aren’t as ignorant as we seem.
After the fire was out and the kid was in dry clothes, we again laid down for the night. I had drifted off at some point. The sound of the waves crashing onto the shore has always been peaceful to me. The boats in the distance traveling across the lake also lulled me to sleep. We had tied our boat to the large tree that had fallen into the water right up again the island. I remember hearing our boat rocking back and forth as the waves moved it. Usually, there weren’t a lot of boats that traveled through the water at night. But tonight, there seemed to be a few. It was one of those boats that woke me up. Its distant motor quickly got louder as it rushed by our island, stopping only when it CRASHED into the tree our boat was tied to. How no one heard it but me is something I haven’t been able to figure out to this day.
I laid there and listened as two men FELL off their boat. They stumbled onto the island. In their drunken state they tried to whisper but it wasn’t working. At least they tried to be respectful.
“Don’t tell my mom I dropped my phone.” One of them said.
He stumbled by our tent and relieved himself close by. He fumbled back towards the shore, and I listened as the two of them tried to figure out how to get their boat away from the tree trunk. I heard phrases such as, “Not that way,” “Help I’m stuck,” “The waters cold!” There was a lot of splashes as they fumbled around. Finally, their boat started up again, and they were gone.
The next morning, I pulled myself out of the tent, amazed at what I had heard the night before. Everyone was up and moving around; my mom and some of the others had started fixing breakfast. I looked out over the water just as that fish made another circle around our island. At that time, I didn’t know what an omen was, but I was pretty sure that fish had a lot to do with everything that had happened so far. The last straw for that particular camping trip, however, was when my brother’s girlfriend passed out while cooking our breakfast. She was standing there with a carton full of eggs when she fainted dead away, dropping and cracking all of them on the ground.
We loaded up then and road back to the dock. Message received.