Knowing I had no choice, I did and nothing happened. I nearly cried out my relief, but bit the inside of my cheek to remain silent.
“Seems you’re okay to stay.” He smiled warmly. “I saw you eating but here the sun set early so you may want to get on the lake soon.”
“I can use your boat?” I sounded as surprised as I felt after what he’d said about the boat earlier.
His head moved to the side. “It will return when you disembark.”
He walked me back to the lake, looked at the distant mountains and pointed to one I could barely see. “Tis possible that’s the one you’re looking for.”
I stared at it trying to fit it into the picture I received from the owl, and failed. “Perhaps,” I said, dragged the blue boat into the lake, climbed in and began rowing.
“Thanks,” I said to William, who lifted a hand to wave and then turned and walked away.
Hot sun, sparkling water, sunlight reflected, exhausting labor, I tried to ignore it all but the pain in my chest, shoulders, arms, and upper back refused me. I pulled the oars in, stowed them securely and looked around for the first time since I began. I was close to the center of the lake as far as I could see, and the shorelines were distant glimmering mirage like lines of greens and brown. Occasionally, I saw a cut between trees, which I thought might be rivers or streams that fed the lake.
A drink from my canteen helped some, but I really needed a nap. So I arranged everything as carefully as possible, using my folded shirt for a pillow, and dozed off.
The boat rocking woke me. Then thunder banged loudly and seemed directly overhead. Fingers of lightning crept spider like across distant black clouds that turned blue trailing the bolts. Hastily, I pulled the oars out and jammed them into the oarlocks, snugged them in place and began rowing as fast as I could manage. All the while I kept an eye on the approaching storm wondering if I’d be electrocuted, or drown should storm created waves capsize the boat.
Of course, I chose that moment to reflect on what I’d done to the people back home, and too decided that if I died there I likely deserved to die.
The edge of the storm reached the lake and I was still at least a quarter mile from the nearest shore. My arms screamed agony for each row and I knew I would not succeed when a strong boom of thunder vibrated through me followed by a massive lightning strike exploding several trees, I determined by the debris tossed skyward.
This is damn nasty, I thought desperately, tried to row faster but could not. My arms finally quit I could not lift them high enough to row.