The Lake

Just over that hill is a lake. It is perhaps the most beautiful lake anyone has ever seen. A waterfall from the mountain feeds it during summer, and water lilies float on its surface during spring. The croaking of frogs on warm July evenings is overpowering for the first time listener. Willows droop along one edge, drinking their fill when the days turn too hot. Deer and other wild animals come to do the same, if nobody is around. Numerous wildflowers line the banks, their rainbow hues reflected in the waveless water, and the occasional summer rainstorm draws dozens of wild birds of all types to shower and feed. Just over that hill? you ask. Why not see it now. It is perhaps a bit dark, and cold, but it sounds worth the trip. I try to change your mind, telling you it is now November, and the lake is not at its best. You insist, and threaten to go off by yourself if I do not want to see it, so I reluctantly accept, and lead you outside. Night fell almost an hour ago, and a full, bright moon is directly overhead, providing a little light. We crest the hill and look down at what might be the most beautiful lake anyone has ever seen. The autumn months have not been kind to the scene. The waterfall is a mere trickle of molten snow into the cold, dark water. Nothing but the hearty algae floats on the surface now, and it too will be gone in a month's time. Frogs have long since gone into hibernation, and the lifeless bare branches of the willows seem to be raking across the water, searching for something as yet unknown. The deer have migrated south until spring, and the other animals are busy preparing their winter nests. The flowers and other such bushes are devoid of any life save for the seeds preparing to germinate once the time comes. Lightening and then the low rumble of thunder come from the east, promising a storm soon. The lake looks as dead as possible, and even I wonder if it will return to itself in the spring. Another lightening flash lights the far side of the lake, and the distinctive outline of a man is seen for a second. He is standing on the bank, looking at the lake. A third flash lights up the sky, dangerously close, and you say that you see something red on or in his hands. I don't really believe you, but I suggest we leave, and you are quick to comply. We retreat over the hill and reenter my house. Maybe I'll come back in a few months, you say. Good idea, I reply.

Tyler Jones, September 6, 1990