It was a gloomy day, but the fish were biting, so John and Mary were out in their little boat trying to catch their limit in brown trout for their dinner that night.  Mary has always felt a little uncomfortable on the lake but never really knew why, until that afternoon.

John and Mary grew up in the same small town and have known each other for most of their lives. They lived a few blocks from each other, and Mary’s family owned a cabin on the lake, which she and John inherited when her parents passed away. Mary loved to swim in the lake but would only go out to a point where the seaweed didn’t touch her legs.  Her sisters teased her when she refused to swim laps with them out past the sandy bottom, and eventually, they gave up asking her. Mary said that the weeds “felt like hands trying to pull her down” and has always felt something a bit off about them.

Now, years later, she often found herself gazing down into the water from the boat, mesmerized for what felt like hours until John would startle her out of her trance, asking if she was alright. The overcast day made the dark water look even scarier than usual, and the weeds seemed to look alive at the bottom of the murky lake. There appeared to be hands in the weeds, waving at her. Mary couldn’t help but feel a chill run down her spine as she looked over her shoulder to make sure John was still with her. He saw the worried look in her eyes and asked her if she was alright. She reassured him and told him that she was, even though she didn’t believe it herself.

“What did I just see?” she asked herself, not ready to believe what her eyes had shown her.  “Were there actually hands down there? Or was I seeing things?”. Mary still could not bring herself to comprehend what she had just seen and must have lost some of the color from her face because John got her attention again.

“Mary, ……  Are you alright? You look sick.” Mary mustered her courage, even though startled, and replied shakily, “Ya, I’m fine. No worries.” “Are you sure?” John questioned. “Yes, I’m fine, jeez. Leave me alone about it.” And looked back into the dark waters, trying to reassure John, but mostly herself, that she was, in fact, alright.

Just then, there was a quick, light-colored movement in the weeds that caught Mary’s eye. She allowed her head to snap in the direction that it moved towards, but instead, she moved her entire body and set the boat tipping.

John was startled and tried to remain steady, but he was standing on the bow, casting away from the weeds, and was not ready for Mary to move so suddenly. John ended up falling over the side of the boat into the cold, dark waters. Mary tumbled into the center of the little rowboat when John’s weight was being thrown out of it, and there she lay, bleeding from her eyebrow. Mary must have hit her face on the side in the quick motion of the craft balancing itself. Mary got to her knees and looked over the side of the boat for John to help him back in but quickly realized that it was silent; in a panic, she hurried to the other side to look once again at where she had seen movement in the weeds.

Mary screamed as she saw John’s panicked, drowning face looking back up at her, knowing there was nothing she could do for him. She was too scared to jump in that far from shore, always has been. I guess now she knew why. The hands were wrapped around John’s legs and continued to pull him deeper into the dark.

It only took an instant for John to disappear, but it felt like an eternity to Mary. No sooner did she stop seeing him did she start to see the hands reappearing, coming back for her. The panic filled her chest, and Mary was too scared even to scream. Before she knew what was happening, the boat had tipped again; this time, it completely capsized, throwing Mary into the dark waters she had feared for so long.

They found the boat, washed up on the shore miles from where they had launched, days after they were both dragged into the darkness below the weeds. Some say that on an overcast day, if you look closely, you can see their hands beckoning you to join them in the darkness below the weeds.

Submitted: September 23, 2022

© Copyright 2022 J. Davenport-Blow. All rights reserved.

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