The house sat on the edge of the lake, framed by a thick forest of pine trees that encircled the water on all sides like an advancing army. To the west, just behind the house, the last of the twilight was disappearing with the fading light, the only evidence that any sun had ever occupied this sky. There wasn’t enough day left to have an effect on the water, which was still and black and at that moment looked to be impossibly deep and dark. All around the lake the pines stopped a few feet from the edge of the bank.
Not a breeze stirred the arms of the pines or skimmed across the glass-like surface of the lake.
One moment it was quiet and dark, oh so dark, and the next a light flickered on in the single story perched on the bank and filled the window frame with a warm glow. The light reflected off the lake, emphasizing the blackness beneath.
To the left of the house, off to the side, a small dock ventured a few feet out into the water before ending abruptly, seeming to refuse to advance any further. A figure stood on the dock, outlined by the last of the glow on the horizon and the amber light in the window; toes hanging over the edge, staring straight down into the inky blackness, chin on chest and arms hanging limply by its side. The light blinked out in the cabin window, as if suddenly deciding that this wasn’t the place or time.
“Mother.” The voice was thin and high, picked up by the lake and carried across; on the other side it seemed as if the voice was coming from the depths of the water itself. It skipped off the lake and over the matted root bank before escaping into the trees. There was no indication from the house that anyone had heard.
“Mother, I can’t see my reflection.”
In the distance, a motor gurgled and spit and growled down the pothole-filled dirt road that pushed its way through miles of forest and snaked near the lake. The trees seemed to collect the sound, muffling it, so that only a little managed to break through before fading with one last roar into the distance.
The light came back on in the house and backlit the small form, creating a shimmering glow around it. The form was now prostrated, head hanging over and gazing down. After a few seconds, the light was gone again, leaving the figure alone on the dock.
There was no longer any light on the horizon.
The small voice was picked up by the lake and carried out into the silence beyond the house. “I can see the back of me but not the front of me. I’m down there.” Silence answered.
“Mother. I think I fell in.”