The Lake

by Catherine Lee

Sometimes I wake up and find myself back at the lake, which I met on my way back from the castle. I enjoy the moments before they leave me, little by little like everything else; for I miss the lake, as though it were a person; for I have learned that people are not the only ones capable of lighting my heart with love.

I remember how I was in a hurry and looking straight ahead, a little afraid and all alone in a tunnel of trees, wondering where the sun had gone. Then I came across an open field where trees were only scattered about, and not forming a tunnel, and though the sun was still not there, its smile was reflected in the clouds, assuring swirls of rose and cream. Then I saw the lake, and my heart made a sound that came out of my mouth, “awe.”

A gauze-like fog drifted over the lake with its trails barely touching the surface, like a ghost who couldn’t let go. I got closer and closer to the lake until I was standing at the meeting point of the water and land, where they brushed shoulders, by each other’s side for as long as they could remember. I would like to believe they remember.

Everything that surrounded the water was also on it. The mountains, the trees, the sky, the clouds, and the moon, and the fog, they all floated on the surface like rainbow interference, emanating feelings I couldn’t put into words.

I thought I could sit there forever, on the edge, looking into the lake and studying all the precious things that lived under the surface. The sky was darkening and I knew I had to return to the city as soon as I could to catch the train to the next city, but I had fallen in love with the lake and didn’t want to leave it. The lake was like a giant magnet in liquid form and my heart was buzzing with newfound joy.

I didn’t think the happiness that seized me was something that could dissipate in a day, or ever, as long as the lake existed.

I thought about the last boy I loved, and wondered what it would have been like, had he come and found this lake with me. I closed my eyes and saw him, the celestial blue of his eyes flickering like night candles; then I unclosed my eyes and saw him again, sitting next to me with his guitar. I opened my mouth to say something, but he started to sing, so I bit my lip and listened. I had written him a postcard, but it was back at the hostel inside my bag, without an address because he didn’t have one. I didn’t know why I had written one in the first place, since I never had intended on sending it.

“I thought about you all summer long,” I thought I would say this when he was done, “I missed you.”

But when he was done, he turned his gaze to the lake without saying a word. I said his name, and he was gone.

I was alone.

I sat and waited for sadness to wash over me. It didn’t.

I looked at the lake again, the glacial pool full of the beautiful and living. I let out a breath and it hung in the air like a map, showing me exactly where I was, for a minute or two before dissolving.

“I am happy,” I said, and it felt true, as true as the cold and the quiet, as true as the words I had written on the postcard that was never going to be sent. I had once wondered where words went if they were never read, and I still didn’t know the answer, but I wanted to say, into the lake.

Catherine Lee wants to be a writer. She is currently located in Seoul, Korea.