The Lake

nonfiction from Mabe Sorensen
Excerpted from Bluff & Vine, Issue Two

The year was 1945. The month was August. The word came that evening that, after four years, the war was over.

I dropped to my knees by the old wooden rocker, a prayer of thanksgiving on my lips. My brother would be coming home.

I looked up as my mother entered the room. Her words were unfamiliar to me: “Get up—go out—celebrate. Have fun.”

I started toward the door, and as I opened it, I could hear the sound of ringing church bells coming from different directions.

What would I do? As I walked toward Main Street, I kept meeting friends along the way. By the time we reached Main Street, we had a nice crowd. We stood along the curb, watching as the cars drove up and down the street, horns honking, the riders in the cars yelling as they hung out of the windows. Back and forth they went. No thought of gas rationing this night.

We watched awhile, then walked up one side and down the other. Our group seemed quiet compared to the others. I wondered at times why I was there—I felt out of place.

One of the boys said, “We should be doing something—not just watching. But what?” “Let’s go to the lake.” A place we all loved. Red Jacket would be close for swimming now; it was something daring we could do. Off we went to get our bathing suits, changed and headed out Lake Street.

There we all were at the lake. The boys were the first to the raft. They rocked it back and forth, and then started yelling and doing cannonballs off the raft—the water splashing high.

The feeling of being out of place still clung to me. I hung on to the raft as it rocked back and forth—then pushed away from it and floated awhile, getting further from the raft.

Looking around at the shoreline—I noticed not many lights—I thought there would have been more.

I started swimming further away. The solitude and that feeling of comfort from the water of the lake soothing as it covered my body. This is what I had been searching for this night in August. The lake gave that to me. A feeling of peace.

I swam back quietly around the raft, walked out of the water, picked up my things—turned, gave a wave to the group—then headed home, where the evening ended when it began: on my knees by the wooden rocker. My brother would be coming home.


To read more prose and poetry about Keuka Lake, pick up Issue Two of Bluff & Vine at Longs’ Cards and Books in Penn Yan, or by visiting

Bluff & Vine is accepting submissions of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and cover art until September 15, 2021. Details available at

1 Comment

  • WOW! “The Lake” was beautifully written. This era brings back wonderful memories of my youth and Keuka Lake, where we went fishing, boating and swimming often. We had family gatherings at Red Jacket Park. I knew a family of Sorensens then. June was a close friend. She had a brother, I think his name was Dick. I wonder if related. Our family lived in the town of Barrington, overlooking Keuka Lake. What a wonderful feeling of peace and tranquility! I feel so blessed to have grown up in such a friendly environment. So many close relatives and friends. They say,”Home is where the heart is”. I guess you might say, Keuka is home to me, even though life’s journey has taken me hundreds of miles away.

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