The Lake

by Andrew Z.


A short story inspired by the song "The Coast" by PUP, created for a grade 11 English course.

   It was almost sundown as Alasie made her way back to her family's little wood cabin up on the hill, that overlooked the frozen lake, and the pine forest which during this time of year was blanketed with a thick layer of the purest white snow you've ever seen. It had been a long day out on the lake for Alasie, with the blisteringly cold winds whipping her and her father all through the day as they patiently prayed for a bite. It's always hardest this time of year, with the reserves from winter beginning to run low, which forces Papa out onto the lake most days if they can even dream of a dinner on the table. Since Alasie is maturing it is now her job to help her father, for he is growing old and should be spending more time at home with Alasie's mother and her baby brother Miki.

   Alasie sees the faint glow of the cabin up ahead as she carries home her half-full basket. Disheartened and aching from the cold she enters the warm cabin, simply to find that Mother has already gone to bed with baby Miki. Papa waits at the table with a sad smile on his face as he asks his daughter about her basket. She reveals it is half-empty as his smile remains, only a tinge of disappointment in his wise, caring, blue eyes. He tells her not to worry as he brings her over a bowl of soup that Mother has made with the bones from yesterday's catch, and some vegetables she had gotten from a family in "town", probably in exchange for some hooks she made from the bones of week old catches. Alasie realizes that her bowl is much fuller than her father's. They finish their meal together as Papa tells her the story of the sacred balance between us and nature, one she's heard many times before. The meal ends and Papa wishes his strong, beautiful daughter a good night as he heads off to let sleep take him once more.

   Alasie however, has other plans. Tired of watching her beaten down father heading to bed hungry, sh waits for the lights to go out before dressing up, grabbing her basket and her pole and beginning her journey down to the lake. Her face begins to sting once more from the cold, but somehow not quite as bad as before. She makes it to the lake, begins crossing the ice to her Papa's spot, just as she's done a thousand times before, except this time she is bathed by the light of a crescent moon hanging in the sky. She tilts her head back and admires it, when suddenly she begins to hear crunching and a booming crack. Everything goes black. A bubbling amongst the immense silence. Alasie's senses are overwhelmed, each inch of her body screaming out in pain as she goes from freezing to burning hot all over. Running out of breath and slamming her fists against the underside of the ice, once, twice, growing weaker and weaker each time, until they stopped, her panic-stricken eyes seeing only an icy blue, like the one she found in her father's eyes. Unable to fight her instincts any longer, she inhales, her lungs filling with the frigid water as she was consumed by the lake that had fed her for so long. Joining the ranks of the creatures residing below the ice.

   It takes weeks before Papa musters the courage to go back out on the lake, the shock of his missing daughter with her pole is enough for him to know what had happened, after all, each year the lake claims victims, without fail and this was no different.

   The family managed, it was difficult, but they carried on; and eventually Papa would head down to the lake, alone, in hopes of catching dinner, but he could no longer look at the lake without a horrible chill running down his spine. Weeks pass, everything seems to be normal again Papa heads to the frozen lake as he does every morning, passes the day catching not a single fish the entire day. He packs up at sundown, reels in the line, there's a tug, he reels faster, hoping this catch to be enough to make up for the lack of fish today. Inspired by the thought of such a reward after such a long day he pulls in his line and what's attached up on the ice. Snapping out of his trance he realizes this to be no fish, he inches closer and gasps as the last ray of sun reveals a stiff, soaking, frozen Alasie, eyes tightly shut, a look of terror permanently on her face. A tear runs down Papa's old face, down his wrinkled cheek, through his silver beard, off his chin and onto the ice. The dead girl is the last image Papa ever has, for at the moment that the moon rises over the forest there is a loud crack as hands reach up through the ice, desperately attaching themselves to the old man's legs as he is plunged into an eternal darkness, his blue eyes becoming one with the lake. For no more than a few moments the trees echo the cracking of the ice, then, silence.

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