A Day at the Lake

fiction

A Day at the Lake

by Franklin Beaumont

Darren and Jamie crossed the police tape and surveyed the lake, or what was left of it. What was once a crystalline spherical mirror was now a massive crater, half a mile across, looking like the aftermath of a meteoric impact. Jamie smiled gleefully as he overlooked the scene; Darren didn’t share his enthusiasm.

“What did they say happened here again Jamie?”

“Not sure. A sinkhole or something.”

“What’s a sinkhole?”

“Dunno. My Dad said they were making a mine underground, and they accidentally drilled it into the bottom of the lake. Drained the whole thing right out. Now they’ll never be a lake here anymore. Come on.”

Jamie began to run down the slope of the lakebed, and Darren had no choice but to follow. The earth was soft and spongy, and Darren would have tripped and fallen if Jamie hadn’t caught him. Once they had regained their bearings, Jamie showed Darren why they were there.

The lake was like a marine graveyard of discarded objects. Old tires, a rusty bicycle with one wheel, a bird cage furry with rust, and a little way around the circumference of the crater, an old door-less car. To Jamie, the lake was a potential treasure-trove of salvage, but it only made Darren feel sad.

Jamie claimed the driver’s seat of the car, and Darren climbed in beside him and tried to look like he was having fun while Jamie turned the wheel this way and that and pretended they were involved in a high-speed car chase.

Darren could see the sinkhole now that Jamie had told him about; a jagged space at the far side of the basin. Looking at that hole, thinking about the lake as it was before, he came to understand for the first time the cyclical nature of life. This lake was gone because its time was over. Somewhere else, another lake was slowly being formed by centuries of rainfall and natural erosion. Beginnings and endings, births and deaths. Everything was happening all the time. What you saw just depended on where you were standing.

“You know my Dad used to take me fishing at this lake. Before he died, I mean.”

Jamie stopped turning the steering wheel. Awkwardly he patted his friend on the shoulder.

“Maybe we should head back,” he said. “I wasn’t having much fun here anyway.”

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