This story is something I wrote in high school – a 1986 creative writing class. The topic given was “all the people who drowned in a lake come back to life.” Being fond of gothic novels, I of course had to take it way over the top! Reading it again, I see where I could make changes, improvements and expand the story further, but I don’t think I will at this point. It was just a school assignment, after all.
It goes without saying that if you are looking for a quick and easy writing assignment to turn in for your period 3 English class…DON’T PLAGIARIZE. this story is copyright to me.
The lake was dark with starlight glinting off the surface. It was quiet in the wood except for the chirruping of a cricket and the rush of wind through the towering pines. Nobody saw the silent canoe as it glided over the broken glass surface of the water.
The canoe was empty to the sight of others, but in the bottom lay a figure, covered with moss and weeds. Several creepy creatures crawled across its pale skin. A baby snake slithered from among the tangled hair and made its way to the edge of the canoe. It fell into the water and swam away into the darkness. A spider spun a silken web from the bony fingers to the tattered clothing.
It reached the center of the lake and glided to a stop. The deepness of night absorbed all sounds of the water lapping against the sides of the boat. The moonlight shone on the paper-white skin of the body. Translucent eyelids glowed in the white light. They opened slowly and the eyes contemplated the design of the diamond stars. A tiny spider crawled across its cheek.
The body was of a young woman. Her tangled tresses had once been a golden brown and flowing. Her pale, white face had once been able to turn men’s heads. Her slender body had once been the pride of her life. But no more. Now the sallow features turned only the heads of insipid creatures, and only the wind turned in her path.
She sat up in the boat. Her dress had once been a frilly spring frock. It had faded, and then been soiled by the elements which had controlled her. The once-white lace lay tattered on her bosom, fluttering slightly in a chill wind. Clawlike white hands gripped the sides of the canoe. This girl had been at nature’s mercy for eleven years. Exactly to the day, eleven years ago, she had drowned in this lake, while her lover had watched, helpless.
The canoe began its eerie trip again. Across the lake it slid, into a darkened cove. At a small dock it halted. She climbed out of the boat, her movements causing the black water to ripple in never-ending circles.
Her worn shoes clacked on the wood of the dock. Her expressionless face stared straight ahead as she plodded up the path. The silent dark surrounded her as she wound through the noiseless trees which were the only audience of the passing.
Further up the worn path, she came to a fork, and stopped. One trail was well worn, while the other was barely discernible. As if in indecision, she stood for some minutes. Finally, she turned to the less worn path and continued her plodding trip. Her arms hung lifeless at the side, not even swaying with the normal rhythm of walk.
The corpselike walk went on until she came to a small, thick stand of trees. One large pine had an arrow carved into the trunk. It has once been deep but was now almost gone. She followed the direction of the arrow. Further into the thicket was a decaying cabin. It had once long ago been a summerhouse for some wealthy soul.
She walked up the decrepit steps and pushed open a sagging door. The hinges squeeked loudly in the silent copse. Her monotonous tread sounded heavily in the abandoned house. An eerie moan came from her throat as she called a name. “Robert,” came the keening cry. “Robert.” A name not heard here in ages.
The footsteps halted in the bedroom, where so many personal moments had been shared. A rotted patchwork quilt lay on a bed with equally rotted ropes. She lay down there and the sightless looking eyes closed.
One night later, a similar occurrence took place. A form of masculine stature could be seen emerging from the same lake. His features, equally as pale as the woman’s, had once also been good looking. His strong mouth was marred though by the absence of teeth. Once blue eyes were clouded over until no color showed.
He walked as had she, plodding along, staring ahead. As he walked, bits of moss and plant from the murky water fell off to mark his passing. His direction was unknown until he reached the tree with the arrow.
They met on the steps of the house. She stared blindly at him; he, at her. “Jason,” she said serenely. “Welcome home.”
His reply was quiet, almost sadly cheerful. “Thank you, Constance. It has been a long time.”
He had drowned also — one day after she. To the day, eleven years ago, he had downed in the lake, while his brother watched, helpless.
“Where is Robert?” he inquired.
Robert Anderson sat in his warm house. His wife was across the room, quietly knitting. But Robert felt cold. He had never felt colder in his whole life. Except that fateful weekend eleven years ago.
It hadn’t been his fault. Constance had wanted to go out that May morning. How beautiful she had looked. That silky brown hair had been held back by a bright yellow ribbon that matched her flounced gown. Her deep green eyes had laughed at some private joke. She wouldn’t tell him what it was, though he had asked several times. Those eyes he had loved. As green as the trees in early summer. Deep, almost pools of reflected light. Almost as deep as the lake.
She had stood up in the canoe, so far into the middle of the water. The boat rocked gently as she stood, swaying her from side to side. So provocative. So beautiful. A log hit the side of the canoe as she stood there, knocking her off balance. He had reached to grab her as she fell and bumped into her. His brother Jason had watched on the dock, so far away. She splashed into the water, her golden tresses spreading out, freed from the gay yellow ribbon. Her dress absorbed the water so fast; he couldn’t get ahold of her without risking his own life. He stood, inert, as she sank out of sight. He realized he held the ribbon in his hand.
Jason had seen. He had to explain it wasn’t his fault. Robert had never been so scared in his life. He had loved Constance, with all his heart. But he had been helpless to save her.
As he frantically rowed back to the short, he saw Jason stalk away, then begin to run. Robert assumed he was going to the cabin. It was such a run down shack. Nobody knew about it except Robert and Jason. They had found it when they were boys exploring the woods. Jason had claimed it for his own, and Robert didn’t really care. There was no way to restore it, so what was the use of keeping it. He never went there.
Jason ran down the path to the shack. Into the main room he flew. He had just purchased the ring the day before. He and Constance had declared their love but a week before. How many times had he brought her here? Jason couldn’t count them all. And it was all spoiled by his useless brother! Damn Robert! He would pay, if it meant the death of both of them.
The next day, Jason went to Robert’s small bungalow across the lake. He found him on the dock, staring into the murky water below. He turned as Jason approached.
“I loved her,” Robert said. “I really did.” He mourned her in each word he uttered.
Jason simply stared at him, disgusted. He had seen him push her into the lake. He had seen him watch her drown — let her drown. In pure hatred for his brother’s cowardice, Jason struck at him. Struck out at the demon that had stolen his lover. Robert saw the blow coming and side stepped it. Jason was carried forward by the momentum of his lash and stumbled on the rickety wood. His foot became entangled in a rope; it was secured to one of the posts supporting the dock. He continued his fall, into the water that had so recently dealt him such hurt. But that hurt was minute compared to the tragedy happening to him at that very moment.
His legs became ensnared by the safety rope and he was unable to kick his way to the surface. Robert stood petrified, seeing the disaster again. Jason was pulled under by his utter helplessness. His last thoughts were to be reunited with Constance and to wreak vengeance on Robert.
Robert Anderson slept. It was a dark, deep night. No sound escaped the silence. His dreams were plagued with memories of those awful days so long ago. Suddenly, he awoke. He didn’t know why. He rose from the warm bed and walked to the window. Looking down at the lake on that moonless night he could almost see those two people drowning, because of him. A movement on the dock attracted his attention. Two lovers stood in an embrace, as if it were their last. He looked away, and then back, curious as to who they were. They were gone.
Something drew him down the stairs, through the door, to the edge of the dock. Maybe it was the thought of missing Constance and Jason. He wasn’t sure. In his mind, he was reliving that disastrous last meeting with Jason. It had been on this very dock, eleven years ago. He turned as he had then. What he saw froze him in his steps.
Jason and Constance stood there on the dock. They held hands, reunited again. “Robert,” they said as one. “We have come to clear things up.”
Robert stared, transfixed, speechless as they spoke. “We were lovers,” Jason said flatly. “We were to be married,” mourned Constance. “You ruined it all, Robert. We have come to ruin your life.”
The frightful couple moved toward him. Robert backed away a step. He opened his mouth to scream, but the cry was stolen by the wind. No one heard.
The next morning, Robert Anderson was found dead on his dock. The doctor thought he had had a heart attack. But a young couple present knew otherwise. She wore a frilly spring frock. His good looks attracted much attention. But it was their ghastly grins as they walked away holding hands that gained the most attention of all.