Flash Fiction: The Other Side of the Lake

As though on cue with the signal from an orchestra conductor, they arrived at the park at the same time. He came from the southern entrance, and she came from the north.

She was wearing the alpaca cardigan that he’d given her for her twenty-third birthday a year ago. It tickled the palms of his hands when they embraced.

It had been icy cold in the morning, but now the midday sun was out. She felt sweaty under her clothes.

They walked to a wooden bench and sat down. A lake stretched out before them and was glistening brilliantly—as though it were only for show and would dry up once visiting hours were over. On the other side of the lake, there was a row of townhouses with blue roofs.

She thought it would be nice to paint the scenery, exactly as it was laid out before her, down to the bushes of butterfly irises that lined the path from the lake to the townhouses.

Sezzy’s the hotdog stand was metres away from where they stood. He felt a slight craving coming on, despite having already eaten the packed lunch that his wife at home had prepared for him.

Together they approached the stand to fix their hunger. The hotdogs were sloppy and filling. Grease lined their fingers, sauce and mustard oozed out of the buns sideways.

He brought her hand to his mouth and licked a bit of mustard off her finger. It made her giggle. Her cheeks were flushed.

He loved that she was a messy eater. His face remained pristine. No crumbs, no sauce—no mess. No evidence that he had eaten a hotdog. No evidence that he was with her.

They continued along the lake. She ate while he spoke.

He told her about the time a child appeared to be drowning in the lake. I jumped in and pulled him safely to the bank, he said. No idea what to do after that though. I was lucky that another woman came onto the scene and was able to resuscitate him.

I don’t have any water rescue stories, she said, but my cousin lived in one of the townhouses on the other side of the lake. Our families aren’t on speaking terms now and I haven’t seen him in years. We used to make songs together on a wooden xylophone—my cousin and I, she said.

They approached the bridge that went over the lake, the city now in their reach. They had met in the park countless times before, yet they had never crossed the bridge.

I have a fear of water, she said. I just have to imagine the bridge collapsing suddenly and I can will myself to vomit from the fear.

Vomit!? He said. It would be a shame to bring the hot dog back up—it was delicious.

She laughed out loud. His sense of humour made being there worthwhile. His sense of humour had brought them together in the first place.

Anyway, you don’t need to worry, he said. Because if anything happens, the mystery resuscitation woman will come to my aid again.

She put on a manly voice: Just so you know, when I’m with you, I know no fear.

He thought she was really unattractive during the few seconds that she spoke in the manly voice, but noticing the smear of mustard on the side of her chin made him smile.

Once over the bridge, they came to the park’s signature iron statue of the three angels. The female angel on the left was standing, her eyes upwards and seemingly offering protection to those that sought it. The other two angels, a male and a female, were kneeling down and holding hands, offering protection to one another.

Not a lot has changed since I met her, he thought.

Which angel is the other woman, she thought.

They faced the city together.

She thought some more: I want to make songs on a wooden xylophone again.

I know the man that constructed this statue, he said. He’s in a mental institution now.

That is sad, she said. But at least he got to create something beautiful.


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