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 I used to come here all the time, when I was young. My father used to take me. Then he left. My mother would never take me then, the place was too painful, so I would go by myself. It’s amazing how places can speak to you, comfort you. Because they’re not just places. People think of memories and places as separate things, but really they’re connected. People too are only composites, and like all composites they’re made of different things and can be added to, improved. So this lake was part my father. It embodied him. As I looked over the blue-grey surface, shiny and wet with all the life it supported, it wasn’t just the place he went to think, but all the places he had ever been. The conversation he had with the lake was the only true one-way conversation I had ever experienced, and as such it gave him no judgement, no limits, and its open water absorbed all of him.

So I came here, to do the same. I used to sit right here, right on this rock jutting right over the edge, because it’s the one place that can make you feel like there’s only you, only you and the water. The single place where you can sit and look out over the whole lake, and the water waves and effervesces back at you. It’s the only place where I knew the truth, but the truth didn’t overpower me. Because the truth wasn’t about me, it was about the water, about my father, and what had gone before.

Then I too stopped going. I don’t know exactly why. Nothing really changed there, the water retained the same promising gloom, drab but haunting, and the moss around the rock waxed and waned with the weather. There was no real difference, no real reason, but suddenly I felt too much like a stranger. Or too little. Perhaps it’s because, for that time, it remained my father’s place. I was still a guest then, still reliving and repeating myself without interfering. Going there made me feel clean; washed me of my fears and doubt. The water carried it away. He was there. He permeated the place, and my weak presence did what it had always done in his shadow, lost itself. I became white noise, I became secondary, subordinate, and it was good. But there are only so many times you can go to a place before it becomes your own. So that place, too, after a time, ceased to be my father’s. I ceased to be the guest, and started to claim it, however unwillingly. At first I tried to ignore it, still took second place to the charm and beauty of it. But I felt myself becoming a focus, a subject, and I couldn’t have that, I couldn’t own it. The air grew heavy, polluted with me, laden with the noxious need for affirmation. Loathing that seeped into the silt, filtered into the water, a layer of self-hatred reflected and refracted back through the tranquil mirror until, sitting on my rock, I could feel it. Then, for a while, I could never go back.

But it’s ok now. It’s her place now. I am her guest. So I can sit on the rock, her rock, and gaze out to her water. I feel her in it, I feel her dancing across its glass. She is there, and she affirms me, baptises me, saves me from my sin. I still don’t come here as often as I used to, because I’m scared the same thing will happen, but for the time I draw comfort from the dusky pool knowing she’s there. Somewhere, under the cool water and smooth silk silt, she’s there, with a broken skull and a knife still fixed in her eye. She is beautiful.

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