Cooling down by the lake

A family crams into the car, loaded with togs and towels, food and drink, sun-block, sun-hats, sunglasses.

It's a hot summer day.

Their legs stick together with sweat and then peel apart slowly like two old stickers.

They make their way down to the lake, rolling over the oozing, liquorice tar.

Past the poplar trees whose branches, as they sway ever so slightly in the summer breeze, seem to beckon them to the lake.

Past the camping grounds chocka-block with families, desperately trying to keep cool.

See the lake now, smooth like glass, shimmering in the sun.

On to the thick gravel road, the family frantically winds up the windows, hiding from dust clouds. The dog whines with excitement.

Down the scary steep, rough road to the lake, they look for a free spot by the water.

Windows down again, crunching over the dry ground, they curve around the water to their favourite "pozzy".

They lie down and feel the hot shingle burn the sensitive skin on the backs of their legs - the scorcher of a day warming every inch of them.

The lake is a mirror, reflecting the fun it can see.

With eyes squeezed shut before cracking the glass with a cool, blue splash, a never-seen-the-sun body of a young boy tumbles and turns through the water.

Children scream, exhilarated on a biscuit.

A dog paddles ungracefully after his owner as fluoro-yellow children bob like buoys to the pontoon.

The boat waves run a game of now you see me, now you don't: you versus the golden Labrador.

Kids shout and point towards expanding ripples a trampolining fish has left behind.

The dog scrambles on to the raft, whizzing in-between a dozen children. After hearing the splash of its owner's bomb, it darts from side to side, whining, afraid to take the plunge.

Finally it flops into the water; head forward like an ostrich, making its way back to shore.

It is late evening. The cool wind chases the crowds of people away.

The family squeezes once again into the gear-filled car, like a shoal of sardines. Windows up, the exhausted family crawl sleepily back to Wanaka.

The dry skin on their faces thirsts for moisture.

Wetsuits unzipped to the waist drip small puddles on to the car floor.

The smallest girl battles with her heavy eyelids and drooping head, continuously fighting sleep with little energy.

Her tiny bare feet begin to thaw and you can see every toe relax into the carpet, one by one, like little pink piglets falling to sleep.

Her older sister watches her thoughtlessly through her bright green sunglasses as she scratches a newly-found itchy bite on her knee.

Quiet laid-back music fills the silence as they pull up the driveway and feel the car shudder to a stop.

Early to bed tonight.

Year 12, Waitaki Boys' High School

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