He remembered her well enough so that he recognized her the second time they met-a week later, just before the end of another storm; when the rain thundered from the swollen sky like transparent Brussels-sprouts, and the sun struggled to glimmer through the dull congestion of weather, a primeval creature from the dawn of time set to dispel Gloom and Chaos. He was rowing a clapboard dinghy across the lake from the promontory where he used to practice diving, the hollow cluck and spank of his oars drowned by the chatter of the rain, when he spotted another dinghy lying to and pitching among some skerry-rocks by the shore, with a dirty yellow figure in it, turned toward the sun, still and quiet. He called out to the dinghy just before he snubbed over to the rocks and shipped his oars; until she turned around and stared hard at him, with her long black hair matted by the rain and strewn all over her forehead and cheeks and chin.
"You're the guy las' week, on the dock, before my parents came back ... Don' worry 'bout me. I just come out he' ta take in the sto'm. I sort o' like to sit out here when the rains come. Sort o' wild, ya know?"
She kept staring at him with her dark burnt-out orbs, as though she were waiting for him to respond. And while they were both sitting there, bobbing in the wavelets that slapped against the rocks, caught in some terrific mute suspension between water and sky in the ragged bowls of a storm-then the rain stopped, abruptly, as if an invisible giant hand simply swept it aside and let it plummet over the edge of the earth. The sunlight raced into the noiseless void and nestled and snuggled into the cold water. And while Owen was staring at the strange new sunlight and the new-fuzzed contours of the hills and the hovels along the lake, she smiled, not at him but to the air. She unbuttoned her slicker and began to breathe in the raw air. He turned; and she looked at him almost with tears, her face averted and suddenly shy. She pulled the lapels of her slicker back over her chest and sat hunched, like an oversize gnarl, darting nervous glances at him from her stained-glass eyes; and she mumbled to the futtocks beneath her:
"Y' know, I am kind o' cold. I shouldn't 'a' opened my coat like that. So ... kid ... I don't know what your name is ... What is it?"
"Owen. Owen Davidson."
"Yeah, Owen, well Jee-sus, why don'tcha haul me in to the dock? You look pretty strong." She shot a hard and timid stare at his face; then her eyes settled down and wandered like twin burglars over his chest and shoulders. Owen reached down and picked up his painter and secured it to a cleat on his gunwale and threw the other end in her lap; and with her hands clenched firmly around the painter, they chugged across the few yards of water to the jetty, plucking quietly against the cool glitter on the lake. Owen just stared at her all the way to the dock, with a strange feeling of warmth inside of him, a feeling he was almost afraid to feel too long-as though it were some uncertain beast that had escaped for the moment from its underground pen to the depthless surfaces of his soul. He would not have cared so much if she were just another girl, and this were just another day; but this was all different. He was aware, intensely aware, of the raw glow of the sky and the supple breath of life in the woods around the lake newly freed of rain and chill, of the gurgle and lap of the water against the hull, and the girl, coiled and delicate and shivering, with her skin pink in the wind and her hair plastered and disheveled over her face. She looked for the moment so helpless and tearful, and yet so powerful when she stared with her deep-set sphinx eyes, the same eyes that had sat mellow and mysterious in the soft glow of twilight the week before, as though lost and wrapped in the lonely valleys where gypsies and witches roam. He knew there was nothing special about her; but he s