The sunlight slices off the water, stabbing at my eyes. I shade my forehead and turn, not wanting Jenny to catch me staring at the lake. "I’m so glad you happened by, Virgil," she says, laying out fruit and cheese on the picnic blanket. Her long skirt is carefully arranged on the grass. "I didn’t know what I was going to do with all this food. Nicky was supposed to meet me here, but he never came." "His misfortune," I tell her, taking an apple. "My good luck." "Have you seen him today?" "We spoke last night." Which is true, if not exactly relevant to her question. I take a bite of the apple, enjoying the crisp sound of my teeth tearing its flesh. "Did he say anything about coming here?" Her smile is apologetic; a well-mannered girl knows to pay attention to the guest who’s here, not the one who’s missing. I am awed by the way the sun brings out the gold in her freckles and hair. "No." I spy the sausages in the picnic basket. "Do you have a knife? I’ve misplaced mine." Jenny rummages in the basket. "You look tired, Virgil. Where have you been this morning?" "Out rowing on the lake." She finds the knife, and I take it to start slicing. "This is a heavenly spot. A man would have to be a fool to miss out on being here with a beautiful woman." After Jenny and I are married, we’ll bring the horse and buggy down here for more picnics, I decide. Of course, I haven’t broached that subject with her yet. She still thinks she’s going to marry Nicky. Jenny gives me a bashful smile, then glances away. Looking for the errant Nicky, no doubt. I pick a lily and hand it to her. They grow all around the lake – except for one place where they’re crushed, where something heavy was dragged over them. "You’re looking especially lovely today." It’s the truth. Jenny’s not the brightest girl, but she’s too beautiful to be wasted on a dullard like Nicky. Jenny blushes a soft pink, and retreats behind her parasol. "It’s very hot out here," she says. It’s very cold where Nicky is.
x x x