KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 8: August 2017
Memoir: 273 words

Wild Salmon

by Kandi Maxwell

In a clear, freshwater stream, a nest of smooth, rounded rocks holds a small cluster of salmon eggs. When the eggs hatch, the baby salmon will feed in the stream where they will grow into fingerlings. After a year of living in the protection of the stream, the fish will swim towards the open sea.


It’s summer vacation with the cousins. The scene: Lake Arrowhead, a private reservoir in the San Bernardino Mountains surrounded by a forest of cedar and pine. Light breezes bring whiffs of woodsy-sweet smells across the water where we lie on paddleboards in a rainbow of color. Orange, yellow, and red boards bob along the surface of the rippling water. The gentle movement soothes us, magnifies that carefree school’s-out-for-summer feeling. Our skin turns hot pink—the color of my mother’s nail polish. As the sun rises in the sky, our heads become heated; we dunk them into the lake, and when we lift out of the coolness, our hair sticks to our faces.

We escape to the middle of the lake. I don’t remember parents, but they are most likely sunning and fishing on the shore. Boy cousins roughhouse somewhere nearby, but the cluster of five skinny, bikini-clad, pre-teen girls is in a world of its own. Do we talk about boys or music? Maybe we prattle on about who is the cutest member of The Monkees. Our unguarded voices pass through the trees, and our privacy is probably a fallacy. Still, as we paddle our boards farther from shore, we bite into that first taste of autonomy. We are wild-stream salmon swimming toward a sapphire sea.

Kandi Maxwell
Issue 8, August 2017

lives and writes in the Sierra foothills of Northern California. She walks through forests, soaks and splashes in rivers, lakes and hot springs, and bends frequently in downward dog. She is a retired high school English teacher. Her writing has been published in Fair Haven Literary Review, KYSO Flash, The Raven’s Perch, One in Four, and Foliate Oak, among others, and has been nominated for The Best American Essays series.

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