Ripples

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Mia had been boating west for well over an hour now while keeping a steady pace. Her shoulders were aching and her whole upper body was burning from the workout. She rested her paddles, gazing in awe at the unfamiliar beauty surrounding her. Mia was in the middle of the wide lake, and the only thing other than water in sight was the far-off shore which was covered with pine trees right up until the line where the water met the ground. No cottages could be seen; this was a secluded part of the lake. Nothing disrupted the lakes surface except for a few tiny ripples being generated by the gentle rocking of Mia’s kayak. Everything else appeared to keep perfectly still.


Once Mia put down her paddle, she realized how quiet it really was. The only sound then was the high-pitched chirping of birds hiding somewhere in the pines. The bird’s chirps quieted, however, with the sudden darkening of the sky. Within minutes, full night had crept up on Mia, and all she could make out apart from the glistening waters were the dark and fuzzy outlines of the thousands of trees which seemed to bend in, making the lake shrink.


Mia found the sudden summer night silence eerie, and it made involuntary shivers run up and down her spine. This lake had changed from a fun in the sun movie set to a spooky horror movie set in a matter of minutes. Despite the change, Mia didn’t want to head back to her summer cottage quite yet. She slowly and deliberately reached for her paddles (not to use, but just for something to do,), pretending she was an actress, the beautiful blonde, the unaware teen who was about to receive the most horrible shock of her life. Maybe, though, she wouldn’t have to pretend about that last part.

***

After seeing it, Mia looked down at her hands, wondering why they shook.
The ripples themselves weren’t scary. Maybe the fact that they hadn’t been there a second ago; maybe that’s what made Mia uneasy. It was most likely, though, the size of the ripples; the diameter of the smallest circle was wider than her whole cottage, and the ripples themselves moved sharp and quick. Any body could tell that these were created by something far from small. Something far from ordinary.



Mia shifted in her kayak, making her own ripples larger. She clutched her paddle in a death grip, contemplating dipping one end into the cool water. She thought of starting back to her cottage, thought of seeing her dad’s worried face, hearing his relieved voice (‘Where have you been?!’). Mia thought of everything except for those ripples.

***

It had been a while, long enough for the wide circles of ripples to fade back into a flat surface on the lake. Mia was calm now but still didn’t dare move from her spot on the edge of the moons reflection. She watched the water at the side of her kayak. It was rippled, but the tiny moving grooves on the water were created by her kayak. An ant had been squirming and thrashing in the water, making its own set of tiny ripples, while Mia watched with curiosity. Despite its desperate attempts to reach out and cling to the side of Mia’s kayak, it failed to move from its spot on the bed of water.

Mia watched it struggle and kick in one moment, and in the next the ant was calm and relaxed, its legs bending lazily towards its body. Soon after the ants muscles were completely relaxed and the water around the insect was perfectly still, it thrashed with all it had for a fraction of a second before it was swiftly pulled under the dark surface with a soft almost unheard plunk, and was replaced by a small air bubble which soon popped, causing the tiniest drop of water to jump up and sting Mia’s right cheek. She hadn’t even noticed how the area around her radiated with quick, sharp ripples.



Mia sat petrified, too stunned to move, her eyes bulging and her breath quick and sharp. The only independent movement Mia made was to pinch the skin on her middle finger. She’d been doing this for so long that the skin was beginning to chafe but Mia didn’t notice, she was too busy noticing everything else.


She heard eveything: Her kayak sloshing on the water, her irregular breathing, and every now and then the sound of her own swallowing. Every sound heard was created by her, which oddly made her even more afraid.



She saw what she had seen since the sun had gone down and out of sight: The black unmoving surface of the lake, reflecting the full moon and a sky full of stars that seemed to light up and sparkle brighter on this night than on any other. She saw the goosebumps on her long, tan legs which stretched out in front of her, and registered only after a second that they belonged to her and were not attached to a dead body.



She smelled…night air. Clean, refreshing air that stung when she took it in and left her lungs with a burned feeling when she breathed it out. The air kept her from calming down. It kept her aware and made her feel vulnerable. It kept her eyes bulging and not glazing over, kept the goosebumps on her legs. Kept her hands shaking and her body shivering. It kept that one tiny spot on her right cheek colder than the rest of her body.


A strong wind tugged Mia’s kayak backward, making her lurch forward and her stomach lurch back, they were trying to find some sense of balance. She looked around herself and inexplicably smiled. She had been pulled into the dead center of the moon’s perfect reflection, her kayak spinning, slowly, in its place. When she fluttered her eyes open she observed the kayak’s ripples bobbed to the edge of the pale yellow circle, and then faded into the lake. No other ripples in sight. Her eyes fluttered back shut. The wind was calm now, letting relieved Mia breath in comfortably large amounts of warm air while it ran its invisible fingers through her wavy blond hair. She was so comfortable and relaxed. She opened her eyes to observe how her own ripples had faded completely but her kayak was still spinning slowly. The last thing she saw before being pulled under were the set of ripples surrounding the moon. The last sound to be heard before morning was the small pop of an air bubble, and the ripples faded into the dark water which looked so much like the sky that nothing could tell them apart.





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