He pulled the small boat away from the dock and headed out onto the lagoon. They'd talked about doing this, he and his wife, over the years. It was time he'd actually done something about it.
The wind off the Bay blew the few strands of hair he had left into his eyes. The sun was settling behind the hills to the west, pinks and golds decorating the undersides of a few high clouds.
He turned the boat, the small electric motor making little sound, and the wind blew his hair back.
"Colder this year, than others," he said.
The corner of his eye caught the nod of his wife's head.
"Should have gotten this sooner," he murmured. He'd get no argument on that from her.
The waves lap-laped against the side of the boat as it headed down the channel, away from the main lake. Other boats, larger, with canopies, and tables even, passed by, heading the other way.
He waved. The occupants waved back in the easy friendliness of shared seafaring. He and his wife had watched these boats for years, sitting by the water, waving to those making their leisurely way from the lagoon, through the channels to the lake.
"We should do that, sometime," she'd said, more than once. And he'd agreed. "Sometime."
"Here now," he said, keeping a firm eye forward. He knew, if he turned around, she'd be there, watching him, watching their slow and quiet progress over the water.
"'Bout time." His ear caught her quiet voice, even over the sound of the wind. He nodded. "I know, I know. There were always other priorities." He paused a moment.
"Until there weren't."
"It was habit, I suppose," he said, "my putting things off."
Her voice came to him, quiet. "It's who you are. Some things don't change."
He stared ahead a little longer, the wind rocking the small boat from side to side. A few optimistic gulls screeched overhead, banking sharply as they turned in pursuit of better pickings.
The day was fading now and some of the other boats had their hulls trimmed with bright, cheerful lights.
"I was there." He spoke very softly. "I was there, when it mattered. Wasn't I?"
The old man, alone, piloted the boat along the channel, darkness and memory gathering about him.