Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Water Prompt

As found on the internet: Describe a lake as seen by a young man who has just murdered someone. Do not mention the murder. 750 words.

The water was flat. Completely flat. He had no idea water could look like that. He always assumed that wind, or nature, or currents, or magic kept it flowing, moving, waving. In some way. Not this. Not flat.

It looked like a dead lake. Perfectly reflecting the bare trees and leaf strewn ground and deep blue early morning sky with its one or two nonchalant clouds moving through. The air snapped with his breath as he stared at the mirror before him. His own breath, visceral, visible, present, alive, a white declaration of himself, proof, to himself, the ground, the forest, the lake, that he existed. At least at this moment in time. By this lake. At least now.

He crept down to the edge of the bank, to the ledge where the forest abruptly stopped and dropped off into the water. Dead leaves lay encrusted on the surface like a mummy’s bandage, like an old band aid covering up the water’s cuts. So natural there, in the lake, such a natural sight to see.

But what a glorious morning it was turning out to be. The sun was just starting to peak through the bare trunks on the other side of the lake, the bright rays hitting the water and bouncing perfectly back, pristinely duplicated. The birds gave a few tentative chirips, though it was still early in the year and the morning unseasonably cold. Everything in its place. Everything perfectly in its place.

Everything perfect.

Accept for the lake, the dead lake in the middle of so much life, in the middle of the sunrise and the birds and his own breath hanging before him punctuating his thoughts like so many carbon dioxide commas.

He scanned his immediate surroundings until he found a stick, more like a small branch, about a foot long, hooking around at one end. He grabbed it with his blood spattered glove and tested out its weight, its balance in his hand. Then he backed up a few steps so as to get a good running start, and hurled it towards the water. It attained a perfectly natural (after all, what in nature isn’t perfect?) arc and sliced into the lake, cutting the surface and splashing, giving the water a voice.

Finally, movement, as the ripples spread out across the surface like so many heartbeats. The perfect reflection undulated and changed, no longer a pristine mirror. He felt his blood pressure rise at the sight of it. He bent down, didn’t even look, just grabbed whatever he could, and hurled it into the water. He screamed as he threw. The debris scattered, ricocheting against itself in the air, marring the perfect arcs, and spattering against the water.

He grabbed more, he threw, he screamed. The more he threw and grabbed, the more the water boiled, the better he felt. The water was boiling now, not him, the water was distracted and confused and alive, not him. He was throwing it all into the lake, into the sharp morning. He took off his gloves, threw them in as well. His jacket, he unzipped it and balled it up and in it went. His belt, his boot, his other boot, his socks, all if it, all of it off and into the lake. Into the lake. His shirt, his pants, his boxers.

He stood on the bank, his sweat freezing against his skin, his face wet with salt, his feet against the bare dirt and rocks and sticks, cutting into the tough skin of his heels. His clothes floated on the surface, confused as to how they got there, moving around in the current he created, his god like current.

Quiet again, now that his lungs had their say, screaming into the perfect morning that was not perfect, not perfect, wasn’t allowed to be perfect. He took a step forward, and another, and another, until he discovered that he was walking into the lake, his body, violently shivering, at first informed him of, then protested against, his forward movement into the water.

He started to blindly stumble, run, into the lake. He was only a rudimentary at best swimmer, able to dog paddle and tread water, but nothing that could be considered a true “stroke”. Couldn’t crawl or butterfly. He flailed against the ice water, knifing into his skin, his senses. But oh, the fantastic ripples he was creating! The amazing mess! More so than sticks or dirt or all his clothes combined. He was the storm the morning refused to provide, making the water bend to his will, making the water alive with his own life.

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