The Lake

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I slowly, methodically stripped off all my clothing and stared out at the surface of the smooth, glassy lake. Gingerly, I dipped one of my big toes in the water and quickly yanked it out again. It was freezing! Then I put an entire foot in and left it submerged in the water for a few seconds before pulling it out, too.

I started to shiver but as I looked out at the calm surface of the water I stiffened my resolve and the shaking subsided. I needed to see him. It had been so long.

I looked up at the moon and called him. The notes rang from my lips in an unearthly symphony, more beautiful than the song of the nightingale and more revitalizing than the call of the phoenix. My voice dropped and rose, plummeting to the deepest valleys and chasms of the earth and drawing itself up again to join the stars in the sky.

I stopped and waded into the lake. I waited there, my feet going numb from the black, icy water. The gentle ripples around my ankles stung my flesh. It was so cold, it burned. I stood there for a full ten minutes, waiting for him to answer my call. He didn’t, and I could no longer feel my feet. It was time to move.

I threw my entire body into the lake. The water flowed over me and I started shivering again. I bit my lip to stop my teeth from chattering just as another violent wave of shivers wept over me. I bit down too hard and drew blood.

I began to kick my feet and paddle out to the center. My feet had sat in the water for so long they had taken on a vague purple-blue tinge and lost all warmth and feeling. The sudden rush of blood to my feet came as a shock. It felt as though they were on fire and I gasped in pain, trying to ignore the dozens of tiny needles poking at my soles. Seeing him weighed more heavily on my mind than the thought of pain and so I tried to ignore it.

The moon rose higher and higher in the sky as I swam and the faint light beat soothingly on my back. I was so tired, exhausted, even. Just a few more feet, I kept telling myself, just a few more.

Finally, I was there, at the center where the moon shone her brightest. I stuck my head under the surface and began to swim downward. I spent the entire trip down calling him, my song distorted and warbled by the great pressure of the lake, but lovely and lilting and melodic nonetheless.

I reached the bottom and continued to swim, this time in a horizontal line, looking around every so often for something I couldn’t quite remember. I knew, though, that I would recognize it when I saw it.

Ah! There it was – a little house of sorts. It was made of a dark gray stone with plants all around it and fish swam through miniscule cracks in the walls. There were vines, of the underwater variety, attached to the walls, clinging to them for dear life.

There were no signs of movement in or around this little lake house. I started to get a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. He had to be here, he just had to. I had no idea what I would do if he wasn’t.

I cautiously swam up to the little gate and peered over it. Strange, I could stick my head over it. Normally, he would have some sort of security system up to prevent things like that.

I kicked myself over the top of the gate and went around to the door. He was a quirky one. He didn’t believe in front doors, so he built one on the side.

I paddled up to it and sang a note into a little box on the side. A great chime resounded through the area and the fish scattered, poking their heads out between clumps of weeds moments later.

I waited patiently for a few moments but there was no answer. I breathed another note into the little box. This one was louder and of a higher pitch. I was starting to get anxious. Why wouldn’t he answer me? My heart was a dead weight in my chest.

I waited a short while longer. Nothing. My heart sank to the bottom of my ribcage and sat there, constricted and in pain.

I pushed on the door. Surprisingly, it opened. Poking my head in, I looked around, then gingerly stepped one foot over the threshold. His home was empty. Desolated. Deserted. The stench of abandonment hung in the air.

There was no water inside and I was able to walk around freely. He did a good job of keeping it out. I walked around, looking through all the rooms, calling his name in the pretty, singsong voice he loved.

He wasn’t there. There was no doubt in my mind.

I sank to my knees by the door and a tear slid slowly down my cheek. Why did I expect him to still be here? After all this time? I stayed there, in his doorway, for a good hour or two, losing myself in my despair. Then I got up and left. I swam home, reveling in the icy water that distracted me from my pain.

I never went back to that lake again. This time I distanced myself from him for good. It’s strange, though. Occasionally, I’m woken up from my sleep by the sweetest sound and I swear it’s his voice calling out to me.

I just haven’t found the courage to call back.





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