The sign said, LAKE USE FOR HOA MEMBERS ONLY, and NO SWIMMING AFTER DUSK, and ISLAND ACCESS PROHIBITED, but we stripped and swam the fifty or so yards out, anyway. It was your last night in town. We had so little daylight left, and as we waded closer, we heard all kinds of birds calling out from the island. They must have been small or hidden away in the ginkgoes, though, because we didn’t see any as we pulled ourselves onto the rocks. Soaked and trembling, I wiped dirt onto my underwear and nearly stumbled into a nest of goose eggs. Or at least we were pretty sure that they were goose eggs—this is what we’d returned to uncover. I’d forgotten the sheer volume scattered across the wild soil. Forty-six eggs. Fifty-three. Seventy-two. Once we finished counting you called it a mystery. Some were even marked in sharpie with X’s, inexplicable. You took photos of everything, chipped away at a broken shell with a branch until we could make out the grim embryo inside, and the stench was so awful that you gagged. They’re goose eggs all right, you said, mournful, and I felt very anxious. It was getting dark fast. We should leave soon, I replied, jumping as a pair of thrushes screeched past the island. I wanted to go home. I wanted us inside together.
We shuffled back to the clearing we’d emerged from. I was kind of hoping there’d be a baby velociraptor in there, I said, ducking under a tangle of spiderwebbing branches, and you said, Yeah, or at least something extra-terrestrial. We stood at the edge of the lake and agreed to keep this secret, considered ordering a pizza. You snapped a photo of us both before I knew it was happening, and then you eased your body into the lake, wincing as the cold pricked at bug-bites. Bundles of long-expired goose eggs rotted to either side of me, and, as I lowered myself into the wet, I wondered how long it had been since the parents. The water was cold and so I laughed and dipped my head in. When I emerged, I wiped my face and saw that you were already swimming back to the shore: one arm scraping forward, the other propping your iPhone above the surface, your legs kicking, the water rippling after you. I was no longer in any hurry. I took a deep breath and started forward, the last bursts of purple spoiling out of the Midwest sky all around us.