A dog barked somewhere in the emptiness ahead and another answered it, almost like an echo. He drifted past a house built in a gap in the trees. Darkness cloaked it but he could see a picnic table and benches standing beside a barbecue that had gone cold. A rowboat, bigger than his, was tied to a post at the end of the dock.

Heckman’s island lay in one of the many nooks and crannies along the tattered shoreline just beyond the town of Lunenburg. It was joined to the mainland by a small bridge and if it wasn’t for the name you wouldn’t know it was an island at all. But the people who had their homes here liked the sound of it, the suggestion of remoteness. Many of them, like his parents, kept their houses as vacation residences, summer places. Others lived here in virtual seclusion all year round. From the thin grey ribbon of a road, worn and rutted, little was visible. Mailboxes at the end of tracks leading through the trees were the only signs of where the properties lay. But here, on the stream that curled and twisted and eventually made it to the ocean, you could see everything.

He dipped the short oars into the water as gently as he could so that they made no sound. He had been on this brief secret journey before and he knew to let the current do most of the work. He turned to see where he had got to. There was a faint glimmer ahead. He let the boat drift again and as he rounded a slight bend, he saw light spilling out from the windows of a house. 

by Keith Baker

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