The Murky Lake

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

The life and times in and around a lake.

The%20Murky%20Lake_Booksie%20large.jpg

THE MURKY LAKE

Life at the bottom of the lake was not at all as it would appear to an observer who would only be able to see slight movements here and there. The lake was the focal point of a small residential area. There were only six houses surrounding it. Over the years the lake had seen many changes. The shape, for example, was not definite in any way. It had no shape. This was due to the continual erosion of the soil and the heavy rains that would enlarge it, and then hot dry weather that would make it shrink back. The village had once been near to the lake but, as the climate dictated, there was now quite a distance between them. The soil on the bottom of the lake was very soft and resembled fine sand. When anything moved down below, the water was cloudy, at other times it was a lot clearer. The dwellers were very varied: from eels to carp, frogs to water rats, dragonflies to the ducks. The majority were not natural habitants of the lake, but had been thrown into it because the owners could no longer care for them, or they were just a bit fed up with having an aquarium in their living-rooms.

The carp were growing bigger and bigger, and some of the locals made quite a show of fishing for them. The giant bulrushes gave protection and shelter for numerable water birds, especially waders. There was a patch of water lilies in another part, and other flowering plants too.

The lake held secrets that no one could even guess at. Bicycles had been abandoned in it, to be pulled out by the local council authorities. One night, a young lad had ridden his motorbike into the lake and had nearly drowned as a consequence. Such events fortunately were few, but when they happened had a strong effect for some time. Some frogs had taken up residence near the lilies, and were not at all pleased when unwanted visitors tried to make them shift. They set up a choir of croaking at any hour they felt like. When a human was heard, they all leaped into the water making a gentle splash. The ducks quacked and the frogs croaked and the birds twittered. When the summer heat was high, the dragonflies added their buzzing to the rest. There were those inhabitants who never rose from their abode, instead they stayed at the bottom in the cool shady water, swimming in and out of the long pondweed and other underwater plants. Nothing much could be seen of them, but sooner or later they made their presence felt. To an observer, it would seem as if there was a fight going on underwater. The floor became cloudy and there was a great show of fast movement and if they looked closely those involved were tiny figures flitting in and out. The sunshine never reached right down to the lakebed, and those who dwelt below saw only the sparkle of the sunshine on the water. When anything strange showed up, those who thought they were in danger, hid in the bulrushes and the long grass, till what they considered the enemy had gone. During the summer months, bright colours showed up amongst the different shades of greens, browns, and greys. Those colours were tiny fish that were too small to be seen unless they were caught in a child’s fishing net. They were like flickering neon signs.

 

Generally speaking, people enjoy living near water of some sort: whether it be a river, a small pond, or a lake. When the village was distanced from the lake, a building constructor bought some of the land and put up six houses. The houses weren’t at all similar, but completely different. However, they were all rather pretentious. To look out of windows that give onto a lake surrounded by trees is not the norm, and those who lived in the houses knew that.

 

In the first house Stefan and his second wife, Nadia, lived with their two sons. They had been there ever since the houses had been built. Neither of them had been able to resist the idea of having such a lovely view. Their two sons had been born, and had had the sight of the lake in their eyes from the day they had been taken home from the hospital by their parents.

The second house was occupied by Denby, who was a mystery writer with his own mystery. No one knew anything about him, but as he caused no problems he was left in peace.

The third house belonged to Joseph and Lucky. They were partners, and spent a lot of their spare time doing up the house. They didn’t have children, always saying that they were too young to be worried about small people.

The fourth house was the home of Roger and Minnie, who came and went, but no one knew where or when they went or would be going. They were very restless.

The fifth house had a woman and her two sons, who had the company of Stefan and Nadia’s boys for getting up to mischief with.

Then there was the sixth house, where a weird old lady passed her days making all kinds of remedies from herbs which she collected from the woods behind the lake. Her name was Ginevra, and she was a rather off-putting character. All those who knew her said she wasn’t as bad as she was painted.

 

The social life among those six houses and their occupants was rather frosty at first, but then, gradually, they came to realize they only had each other, as the village was too far away in an emergency. On fine days, someone could be seen strolling around the lake, the main fear for those with children was that they might fall in. The proximity of the lake to the houses, decided the parents to take their boys to swimming lessons.

 

One day in early spring, when the wind was too chilly to change clothes for lighter ones, the four boys had the idea to go fishing for tadpoles. Each boy was carrying a typical child’s fishing net and wearing Wellingtons, arrived at the lake. What nobody had told them, was that the lakebed wasn’t firm, and as they stepped carefully into the lake they began to slip and slide. As they moved, a large cloud emanated from the lakebed. The surface was cloudy and not transparent, so it was difficult to see anything below the surface. Getting out of the lake wasn’t easy, as they were unable to get a strong foothold. Denby and his friend, Mary Rose, were taking a walk when they heard the shouts and screams coming from the lake. They rushed to where the scandalous noise was coming from, and dragged the soaking wet foursome out. Denby saw that there were more carp than he had seen the last time he had looked. “Now, you four, get home and get changed, and leave the lake alone. The trouble with you lot, is that you have absolutely no respect.”

The boys ran off in the direction of their homes, leaving Denby and Mary Rose staring after them, and the lake all stirred up.

Lucky was looking out of the living-room window. She saw the four wet boys running to their homes, and Denby and his friend staring after them. Joseph was sitting on the sofa reading a book. Lucky often thought about what they had left behind when they went to live beside the lake. The scandal surrounding their love affair and the unexpected death of his wife, and with that all the accusations levelled at them. Lucky knew that Joseph had no part in his wife’s departure from this world, but to get others to believe him innocent had been devastating. Their best friends deserted them, and then they were aware they only had each other. The house by the lake had proved to be a perfectly positive way of starting a new life. Lucky and Joseph never spoke about the past. There was no reason to, they had suffered enough without raking up dead ashes.

Lucky closed the curtains a little and sat down to look through a magazine. The sky had darkened and there were several streaks of lightning and then thunder. The rain, when it started falling, came down in great sheets, lashing everything it fell on. The frogs jumped into the lake, the wind grew strong enough to stir up the lakebed and ripple the surface with wave after wave.

Ginevra was in her kitchen baking bread and creating potions for her customers. She loved the sound of the elements, and found being at home very comforting.

Roger and Minnie had been away for the day and had a worse than difficult time trying to get home. The rain made everything invisible. “Just like Noah’s flood,” Minnie joked.

Rita had made her boys have a shower and dress warmly, after their unauthorised dip in the lake. She was very feckless as a mother, and had a lot to carry on her shoulders. Her husband and father to the boys, was in prison. He had been too impatient to wait for his business to take off, so he had been embezzling money from other business accounts. Rita was angry with him because their sons needed their father, and there he was, locked away till the law said he could be released. Meanwhile, no one knew about his whereabouts, and Rita was too busy to do anything other than work, and try to bring up her boys as best she could.

 

The weather became hotter and hotter and the water in the lake went down. Things that hadn’t been visible to the human eye, were all of a sudden exposed to anyone who approached. There were still a lot of carp, and some of them began disappearing, to be served up with chips. Denby and Mary Rose got hold of a good sized carp, and got it back home. Mary Rose cleaned it well with clean water, and left it in a bucket full of water for two days. She then opened it up, and stuffed it with chopped spring onions, finely sliced red pepper, lemon zest, and grated ginger. The recipe of the stuffing meant the fish wouldn’t taste of the mud at the bottom of the lake. Denby knew that some pubs and local restaurants caught the carp instead of buying fresh cod or haddock. Some of the other residents of the six houses also caught carp, and did with it what they could.

As the weather was hot, the boys were desperate to go swimming, once they were more confident. They weren’t the only boys who wanted to swim in the lake, and on one of their ventures met up with another group from the village. So now there were two teams made up of four to a team. They knew each other of old, and also knew what to expect. The village group began bashing the four from the houses. Soon there were bloody noses and black eyes and, worst of all, missing teeth.

Denby and Mary Rose ran to Rita’s and Nadia’s houses and told them about the fight at the lake. By the time the two mothers arrived, their boys were in a truly horrid shape. Denby called for two taxis to take boys and mothers to the local hospital.

 

Due to the seriousness of their injuries, the police were called. “Come on now, you lot, who were the perpetrators?”

The damged boys said nothing. No one wanted to be a snitch. The policeman repeated the question several times, but not one said anything. “All right then, but don’t think you’re being clever by not saying anything. If another group of boys is attacked by them it will be, in part, your fault. Now get going, and be careful.”

The mothers and boys took two taxis back home. Rita felt far worse than Nadia, who at least had a husband. Rita got inside her home and gave the boys a real rollicking, threatening them with all kinds of punishment. As it was, she was prohibiting them from going to the summer fair and they would have to spend the summer with her parents, which of course they certainly didn’t want. Nadia on the other hand, and Joseph, that night made enquiries for a summer camp for their children, as far away as possible from temptation.

 

The summer wore on, and those people who lived in the six houses and hadn’t gone away for their holidays, made the most of the lake by sitting outside in their gardens.

 

Towards the end of August, not long before the boys would be returning to school, a boy from the village was announced to be missing. The water was now down to a record low level, and the foot of a boy was seen sticking out of the pondweed. Firemen and the police arrived at the lake, and removed the corpse of the young lad. As the four boys from the houses were away, they were not even considered as having anything to do with it. The boy’s photo, with a paragraph about his family and what he did in his holidays, was in the local newspaper. The general consensus was that he had been mucking about, and had slipped, and gone down into the bottom of the lake. If the boys who were away had seen the photo, they would have recognized him as one of their attackers. The dead boy’s friends in the village were questioned, but they all behaved as their victims had done - nobody said anything.

By the time the four boys got back home by the lake, the village boy’s death was old and cold news.

 

The rains began later than normal and carried on until nearly Christmas. The creatures of the lake preferred it, because it meant they wouldn’t be bothered by anyone from above. Long before the six houses had been built the lake was very much larger. The rains were so heavy that the lake couldn’t hold back any more and soon overflowed.

Water has a memory, and that autumn it lost its amnesia of the last years, and it collected itself together. The land surrounding the lake was an extension of the lake itself, and the six householders were shocked and shattered when they saw they were imprisoned in their lovely homes. The local firemen said it would be better to leave their properties till the water subsided and the damage could be assessed. Roger and Minnie said to the authorities, “No one said the houses were built on wet land. Now what do we do? Our home is useless. We can’t sell it, because no one’s going to buy it.”

Rita was pleased to be leaving. The housing authorities had offered her a nice dry house far away from water.

Ginevra picked up all her things and went to live in a small flat where, being higher up, she might have other problems - but not flooding.

 

When all the houses were empty of occupants and furniture, nature did the rest of the destruction, and the rain simply poured down. The lake went back to its original size and the carp and other water folk simply multiplied. Eventually the rain stopped, but the houses were lost to rotting walls and roofs.

 

The landscape had only just dried out after the autumnal rains, when the snow arrived. The already devastated area was soon covered by many layers of snow, until the whole of the wetland was a huge smooth whiteness. The water plants and the wood were the only outstanding features. The icy cold was such that the weight of the snow broke the roofs of the six houses, or what was left of them. In the lake there was still activity unseen by human eyes.

The same silly boys from the village had not a clue to the boundaries of the wetland. They only knew one thing, and that was the water had to be frozen solid after all that snow. After school while there was still light to see, they all went to the lake. They all wore padded jackets, woolly hats, gloves, and Wellingtons. One by one they followed each other onto the ice to slide around. Their combined weight broke the ice and they found themselves up to their waists in icy water and mud. Fortunately, one of them had his mobile with him, and he called the fire brigade, who soon got to the lake and dragged them out. They were taken home and put to bed to warm up, and the whole village heard of their escapade. They were named and shamed in the local paper as not having the intelligence of a snowman.

 

Next spring came, and the lake was news, due to its having grown so much in size. The land surrounding it, where the wood was, and the six houses had been only a short time before, was turned into a natural conservation area: full of water, water plants, fish, wading birds, and other little animals. The ducks and drakes had flown away to a warmer place.

 

The carp were getting fatter and fatter, and some bright spark from the conservation society said they must not be fished for food.

 

Denby was happy he and Mary Rose were no longer down there. They had gone to live in Madeira, where the sea kept itself to itself, and floods were not a very high possibility.

 

The village had also been flooded, but it had been built on higher land. Everyone, even those living in the six houses, received the same compensation. Nobody turned it down, they knew they wouldn’t be offered any more. Some of the villagers stayed, and others went away as far as their finances permitted them to.

 

And meanwhile the carp kept multiplying. 


Submitted: March 15, 2015

© Copyright 2022 Georgina V Solly. All rights reserved.

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Comments

james cooper

Interesting story and point of view. I spotted some tiny mistakes, or things that I didn`t get, but keep on writing! You are on your right way!

Sun, March 15th, 2015 7:48pm

Georgina V Solly

Hello James. Thanks for the comment. Glad you found the story interesting. I see you have just joined Booksie, and I wish you all the best for your story writing.
Georgina.

Sun, March 15th, 2015 8:35pm

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