The lake had always been an agreeable backdrop to the house, a sort of mantelpiece stubbornly displaying the first owner's wealth and prosperity as well as the deepest depressions and tribulations. It sat in quiet tranquility, rippling the sun and moon like an artist redrawing a masterpiece. But the serenity was so pure, so untainted, it sometimes seemed, to those who knew it well, almost sinister.

Trees surrounded the lake in silent distress, and in the fall the leaves fell unusually early. The branches were particularly brittle and broke off easily even during the slightest breezes. The grass was a sickly yellow-green and sometimes broke off. People—especially kids—saw monsters in the lake. Ownership of the property also exchanged hands numerous times during the past thirty years, and the current owner, Sam Edgard, had moved in just two weeks earlier, and during that time had accomplished all that needed to be accomplished when moving houses. The man who had built the house, old and haggard just as Edgard was, had disappeared only eight months after it was finished. Some gossiped that he had fallen into the lake, and some said that he'd had a heart attack. But no one really knew what had happened.

These were a few of the thoughts that ran through the old man's mind like banshees at a cold midnight It was twilight, and the brittle brown leaves crunched as he shifted his weight from leg to leg. He could see the sun just over the tops of the trees at the far end of the lake, which was about the length of a football field. The bare trees blurred and spread the sunlight, and he had to squint a bit, but he could still see fine. His hands were in his jean pockets, and the left was closed around a small rock he had picked up on his way over from the house. He had been waiting here for a while. His son, who he hadn't seen in a while, should have arrived roughly an hour earlier, but Edgard was still waiting on the bank, poised for the long-awaited interaction that had kneaded his thoughts so many times.

His eyes dropped to his mud-stained Nikes. He had been out by the lake less than a half an hour and they were already dirty. Rain had stained Brakewood yesterday, as it had done so many times before, and it still lay diluting the grass. Rubbing the rock inside is pocket, he felt a strange slipperiness. It was damp because of the rain, but it was just slippery, like an alien moss had somehow covered it. His face began to grimace, but then he realized that this was nothing irregular, nothing abnormal. He had just become biased because of the village gossip about the place and its queer times past.

Abruptly disgusted again by the rock in his pocket, he hurled it into the water in one swift, agile movement that could scarcely be repeated by an old and arthritis-ridden man. Perhaps it was the adrenaline that had suddenly filled his veins, but he had felt a sudden surge of panic from his heart, soul and mind to get that object away. The rock made an odd plop into the water, as if it wasn't water; as if hitting a huge mountainous pile of slime or mud. Edgard frowned, turned around and walked back up the pebbled walkway towards the back door of his house.

When he was halfway up the length of the path, he heard another splash from behind him and he halted hastily. With curiosity grander than ever before, he quickly turned around and saw an amazing sight: in the heart of the lake there was not a magnificent sea monster, not the devil from its murkiest caverns, but his own wife, her beautiful blonde hair fluttering about in the swift breeze. The murky water obscured everything below her waist. She was dressed in a wedding gown, and the part that was in the water drifted about her on the surface. Her eyes were black as the burnt hearth inside the house, and with a nimble gesture, she raised her fair fingers and beckoned old Edgard. Mesmerized, he was silent and motionless, almost hypnotized by the bewildering feeling of tranquility and concealed malevolence. Time was immaterial as he watched, unblinking, as his dead wife grew closer.

"Margaret . . ." he croaked, feelings of longing, fear and sadness crowding his heart.

All at once Edgard regained consciousness from his hypnosis, and realized what was happening. He turned around toward the house and ran up the walk like never before, but his aged body stuck to the facts. His leg shot hot pain up his thigh, and he tripped over a small stone. Landing on the grass, he immediately attempted to regain his pride and mentality as he tried to sit up, but the pain in his leg kept coming back.

His son's face appeared in his field of vision, and he helped him up. "Thanks, John," Edgard said, relieved. He glanced back at the lake and saw nothing. Not even the weakest of ripples. Edgard smiled. Had he really seen that? Old age brought many burdens, and hallucinations were one of them, but he just hated to succumb to the reality of his age. But was it really bad, that bad, to witness, even for a short time, happy memories living again? He sighed. As he looked into his son's eyes, he felt his memories of childhood and innocence ripple throughout his mind. Truth hit him then, and for the first time, his son John saw an old, tired, man beneath the previously energetic and animated father that he had known for so many years. The old man let out another sigh.

"Are you all right?" John asked, worried.

"Sure," Edgard murmured, looking down. His cheeks sagged in a tired frown, and he waved his son inside. "I'm fine. Just had a little spill on the sidewalk." He held the door open for his son, and as he closed it behind him when he got inside, a hot, dictatorial pain shot up his leg like the waterline during a boiling flood. His grimace was the only thing that showed on his face; he did not want to show to his son how old and mentally watery he'd become during the last hour.

"Sorry I was late. I got caught in traffic."

"S'fine. Do you want coffee, ah, tea, or beer?" Edgard asked, walking to the refrigerator and opening it. Inside lay a few leftover containers of Chinese takeout, a few sandwiches and some beer, perched for action. He took out a beer and twisted the cap off in his hands."

"I'll take a beer," his son said, but got it himself. For a moment there was silence as the father and son sipped a few times. The silence seemed endless for the old man; he felt sweat drip down his brow as he played over all of the possible images in which he would mess up and not act young, and his son would see how much his father had changed, whoops, retirement home, any vacancies?

John thought about how he had seen his father as he walked around the house, lying there in the grass, looking up into the sky. John didn't want anything to happen to his father.

"There's sandwiches in there also, if . . ."

"No thanks," John said. An awkward silence followed. John and the old man pulled up a seat at the kitchen table.

"So, how was college?" Edgard asked.

"Four years was a long time," John said and chuckled. "After the second year, I thought it would last forever, but now as I look back on it, it seemed as if it came and went like the wind."

"I don't even remember my college days," Edgard said and instantly regretted it. But the bands play on. "All I remember are the parties, calculus, and the pillow I slept with, and that my mom had slept with when she was a kid." His mom was long dead, and this brought tears to his eyes, but he smiled anyway.

"A pillow? You never showed me that," John said with melodramatic distress that was mostly out there for the conversation's sake.

"That's because I gave it to your Aunt Trudy when her husband died before you were born." He bent his head in thoughtful approach. "I don't know what she did with it. She still lives up in Portland. You can call her, if you want."

"Sure," John said sincerely, "maybe later."

Another awkward silence. They each took a sip of beer.

"Do you have a job?" Edgard asked.

"I've applied at the schools in Sheffield. I think I'll get my Masters after my first few years."

"Enemaletry school?"

"Elementary school," John corrected. Both of them felt a part of them die with that correction. A new picture of his father was forming in his mind.

"You think you're ready?" Edgard asked.

"Hell yeah," John answered. He took another sip of beer and set it down gingerly again. He looked at his father. "Is your knee all right?"

"Sure," the old man lied. "You can put the beer in the fridge. Are you ready to go?"

"Where to?" John asked, getting up and pushing his chair in.

"We'll have to see. I think Applebee's is open."

"Whatever you want, Dad," John answered, and for the first time that night, they smiled at each other.

When they were outside, the old man sighed with delight when he saw the sun and its radiance. It came up this morning, bright and beautiful. It would end the day, still vivid and handsome. And it would rise again tomorrow. It would rise again tomorrow.

"Dad?" John asked, worried, peering into his father's eyes.

But Edgard was not listening. He looked at the sun, at the reincarnation. Then he saw the water and its eternal turmoil. Would you rather turn and rise and splash forever in a stupor in the wake of the sun? The sun, whose brilliance died and lived and died with eternal brilliance? The water, try as it might , would only just lick the lowest edge.

Edgard forgot everything and ran to the sun, perched high over the water.