“Would you put the phone down and look at this,” Thomas said with Kristen resting in his lap as they both sat on a precipice overlooking Minnewaska Lake. The evergreens sprouted as far as the eye could see and right where the lake met the rocky cliff across from where they were, they gazed upon the vast open country. It reflected off the smoothness of the lake’s surface in shades of the dusking sun; orange mixed with a fiery yellow. The nimbus clouds floating in the sky intercepted the rays, cutting them into elegant beams that made the water twinkle as well as highlighting the bulbous edges of these clouds.
“Yea, it’s beautiful,” she said without taking her eyes off the screen of her phone.
“You’re not even looking,” Thomas had his arm around her neck and shoulder and lifted his hand toward the spectacle. Kristen followed his hand with her eyes then dragged them back to the phone.
“I’m used to this,” she said, “I grew up here.”
“Yeah, I don’t get this at home,” Thomas said with his face enamored by the scenery.
“Hey, but you get the beach, I think that’s beautiful and I bet you take that for granted, right?” Kristen moved her head toward his chin trying to look up at him. He met her eyes with his and then she looked back at her phone.
“True, but I would settle for this over that any day,” he said. Kristen moved from resting against his chest to just sitting next to him and he pulled his arm away and off from around her neck and shoulders.
“Let’s get a picture,” she said, opening the camera app in her phone. She looked around and her hair at shoulder-length flowed with the movement. Thomas followed her by looking around too.
“What is it?” he said.
There was a small family of four with a shaggy golden retriever making their way up to the precipice where Thomas and Kristen were. “No one is going to take our bikes Kristen,” he said.
“No silly,” Kristen playfully slapped him on the shoulder, “They can take our picture,” she said.
“Oh,” Thomas glanced back at the sun setting.
“Don’t be so paranoid,” she got up to her feet, “quick, before the sun goes down,” she said.
Thomas looked back at her walking to the family and he rose to his feet. He waited at the precipice looking down at the water and watched a few swimmers glide through its serene composition like slithering snakes. From the height where they were, he could not discern the splashing made by their flailing arms and kicking legs. Thomas heard Kristen faintly in the back ground saying “excuse me” to the family as he looked down and before he turned his head toward her, he felt a gentle push in his thigh. It was subtle, but just enough to have him feel a slight uneasiness of vertigo. The family’s golden retriever spooked him as it greeted him while painting and wagging its fluffy almost-white tail. Thomas moved away from the edge and knelt down toward the dog to pet it. He only coursed his hand through the dog’s hairy head twice when the father of the family yelled for his dog to get away from the edge and Thomas looked up.
“Thomas, quit messing around and come over here!” Kristen said as she handed her phone to the father. He was wearing a Northface fleece with khaki pants, walking behind Kristen while looking through the phone squinting. His dog ran up to him and jumped where he settled it back down and told it to run toward his family with pointing a finger.
“Where do you want me,” the father said now looking up at Thomas and Kristen.
“We’ll stand here,” and Kristen grabbed Thomas by the waist and moved him toward her. He naturally threw his arm around her shoulders facing their backs toward the sunset.
“I’m going to have to move over here,” the father said pointing the phone toward their left, “The glare from the sun is obstructing a good shot.”
“We could move over a bit too,” Kristen said and Thomas looked to his right.
“Over here,” Thomas said gesturing his head in that direction. They were still conjoined at the hip.
“Hmmm, ok,” Kristen nodded and they both began to move over, “Thomas, get your arm off of me. I can’t move with it there,” she said.
“Oh, sorry,” He dropped his arm and they repositioned against the glare while the father of the family waited for them, still holding the phone up for a good shot.
“That’s good . . . right there,” he said and snapped the photo. Thomas and Kristen posed again. “I am going to take a few more, ok?”
Staring into the phone’s lenses made Thomas miss the sun set at that pivotal moment when the rounded edge of the sun is easiest to watch. He preferred starring into that.
“Here you are,” the father said walking up to them handing Kristen’s phone back to her.
“Thank you,” she said as she grabbed her phone, “Where are you from? Are you just visiting?” Kristen followed up with asking while holding her phone close to her stomach. Thomas turned around toward the sun breaching through the edge of the earth and watched it disappear as Kristen conversed with the father of the family.
“Oh, we made the drive up from Hawthorne in New Jersey, and uh we read about this place while looking for getaway destinations . . . so we wanted to check it out.” The man tilted his head in a way that made his response seem genuine and awkward at the same time.
“Oh wow,” Kristen’s voice shot up and Thomas smiled, “You know,” Kristen continued, “if you’re in the area you should check out Beacon.”
“Beacon?” the man said. His squint subsided due to the sun’s lack of exposure across the land.
“Yes, it’s a lovely town that is on the up-and-up with all of these little dive bars and restaurants . . . well,” Kristen looked over to his children playing with their dog, “Restaurants,” she said and smiled.
“Ah yes we were wondering where a good place is to eat around here – the expansive nature is a bit too overwhelming – we are just not used to it,” he said. Where might that be?”
“If you just take 87 south and cut east on 84, you can’t miss it,” she said.
“Oh that’s a little far, maybe on our way back we will check it out, thank you.” The father let out a short laugh that cruised into a small sigh. He looked back to his family and his wife waved him over.
“Honey, it’s getting dark we need to go,” she said. The father looked back at Thomas and Kristen and smiled.
“Beacon, thank you so much for that,” he said.
“Oh no problem,” Kristen said and Thomas looked over.
“And thank you for the photo,” Thomas said, but it seemed that the father didn’t even hear him because he didn’t turn around.
Thomas walked over to Kristen and she turned around to him. “These people that come to visit are annoying – it’s like they don’t even appreciate this area.”
“Well you grew up here; its home to you,” Thomas wrapped his arms around her and she rested her head on his chest. They both stared out into the darkened sky above the lake where the reflection of the sky turned to a silver grey.