11/25/2013

The Club House (Short Story)

The Club House

You settle into a cold winter's night at the end of Beech Road. You enter the proper code into a lock and unlock the gate, making sure to close it behind you. A tattered american flag rides high on the rusted flag pole. The dilapidated old shack is pierced by the howling wind of December on Long Island. The whistling of the air is perfectly harmonious with the clanging of boats against the dock. Gentle waves roll down the canal into the secluded basin, causing the boats to rock steadily back and forth.

There are smaller boats lined up against the vine-covered fence in the yard of the old yacht club. The club house is more of an oversized tool shed surrounded by ancient and rotting vessels that are well past their prime. Many children have grown up spending their summers sailing a sinking Mercury proudly out into the bay. The ones currently in use float atop the water, while the retired ones sit sadly on cinder blocks.

The memories have accumulated like the puddle of piss water in the bottom of a sinking Mercury. You can bail the water out, but there will always be more coming through a hole that you haven't found yet. Generations worth of teenagers have cracked open their first ever beers while sitting on that dock, dangling their feet over the water. Young lovers from the past few decades have been spotted enjoying their first kisses down on that dock.

There are quite a few loose boards, with bent nails popping up to stub toes. They are replaced, but each passing year brings more decay. The whole place is slowly falling apart, while at the same time being patched together by little hands, learning to make due with what they have. The efforts of one year's crew are enough to keep the place going for another year. Leaky boats are patched, only to leak from a different spot a week later.

Some say it's a lost cause, that the place should be knocked down, left to rot away. Those people fail to see the memories that hold it together like glue. Each year, everything gets older, dustier, and more nostalgic. The kids who have spent their summers growing up there continue to grow further away from childhood memories. When the time comes to visit home, there is always a night spent on the dock with old friends, breathing the salty air, reminiscing on days past.

When you find yourself in a place like this, it's best to sit down and think for a moment. Let yourself be the subject of your environment. Watch the time you've spent there flash before your eyes. When it's time to go, spend an extra minute staring at the water. That reflection that you see staring back at you will never be the same again. You are living in a moment past, and when you leave you lock the gate behind you.

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