Week One (January 7th)
Regan Leigh’s blog, and her entry: Untitled (Horror)
Gary (you’re here), and my entry: The Lake Of Hope And Sorrow (Romance)
Claire Gillian’s blog, and her entry: Call Of Duty — Mom Ops (Comedy)
Grady Hendrix’s blog, and his entry: The Three Cases Of Almanac Jones
Week Two (January 14th)
Diane (Dolores) Dooley’s blog. and her entry: The Morrigan (Urban Fantasy)
Ben Bradley’s blog
J. (Agnyl78) Elyzabeth’s blog, and her entry: One Night (Erotica)
[there are two blogs linked, so click through to both of her blogs]
Jamie’s blog, and her entry: The Bully (YA Fiction)
Cole’s blog, and his entry: The Bunker (erotica)
Hillary’s blog, and her entry: Winter Wool (Contemporary Lit)
Week Three (January 21st)
Julia (IdiotsRUs) Knight’s blog
Jhuk’s blog [not participating this month, but check out her blog regardless]
Mike’s blog; and his entry: High Scaler (Historical Fiction)
C. Scott Morris’s blog, and his entry: Untitled (Children’s Lit)
Week Four (January 28th)
Ralph Pines’ blog
Rob (rmgil04) G’s blog
The Lake Of Hope And Sorrow
by Gary James
Kerilyn brushed an errant strand of russet hair from her brow as she attempted (valiantly, though with decreasing chance of success) to ignore the man strolling towards her. Taking her time, she nudged her sunglasses up to cover her eyes, hoping that he would walk on with neither comment nor attention paid to her. Ten minutes was all she asked for. Ten minutes of peace and quiet, where she could immerse herself in thoughts of nothing but the ripples expanding across the surface of the lake, watching as they spread out to touch the shore from the smallest of touches. Such precious moments of tranquility had to be taken full advantage of, for their rare beneficial properties eased complex torments which she barely understood. Pulling her jacket tighter around her, despite the heat, Kerilyn could sense the man moving closer. His steady gait, his confidence, splashed jagged waves through the peace she so craved.
She turned to face him, letting him stare at his own reflection in her mirrored glasses. Opening her mouth to respond to him, she caught herself. The lake. She turned from his gaze, sighing. “I come here for peace and quiet, not so that I can be chatted up.” Saying more to him would only encourage further dialog.
“Sorry, it’s just-” he paused. The sounds of water splashing against the pathway engrossed Kerilyn’s attention, and he flustered a word twice before he could continue. “I saw you here. The other day, I mean. You looked so lonely that I thought you might want someone to talk to. Perhaps..”
Kerilyn counted her breaths from the fading of his words, and, when it seemed he would refrain from his attentiveness, breathed deeply in the smell of freshly cut grass. As sunlight tingled on her skin, she reflected on the fading embers of his concern for her.
Without speaking, he nodded and walked on.
Kerilyn stood for a moment, caught in the ever-changing lightshow dancing across the surface of the lake, then turned to see if the man had gone. Hands thrust into the pockets of her jacket, she began to make her way out of the park.
As she approached the park the next day, one hand idly brushing against the railings, she reflected upon the encounter. Hoping that the man would not be there, Kerilyn swung open the gate and entered. The trees crowding the side of the footpath provided some shade, allowing sunlight to dapper through in streaks of light before her, guiding her to the place where she could lose herself in contemplation. For a moment, as leaves rustled in the wake of birds taking flight, she felt the burning intrusion again. Angered at her response, when silence was all she should have offered, she determined that she would not speak to him again. Closing on the water – her space – she saw him. Sitting halfway around the circumference of the lake, cross-legged with one arm draped along the back of the bench, he watched her as she walked.
Biting the inside of her cheek, Kerilyn took to her usual spot at the edge of the lake, resisting the temptation to look over to her unwanted companion. Water lapped against the banks in soothing waves. Controlling her breathing, concentrating on the serene center of her being, she glanced at the bench to see if he was still there. He wasn’t. His approach, as before, was one which was as measured and relaxed as she had ever seen. Too flustered to deal with another round of his attentions, she moved to leave, though the call of the water held her in place long enough for him to arrive, unbidden. Almost without effort, he seemed to bring out in her something near anger.
“Hi there, mysterious lady.”
She glared at him from above the rim of her sunglasses, unamused. “I thought I made it clear that I was in no need of company.”
“It doesn’t hurt to try my luck.”
He remained silent for a moment, hoping, perhaps, for witty repartee. Kerilyn did her best to disappoint him in all regards.
“I’ll see you tomorrow, then. Take care.” With a nod of the head he departed.
Stepping into the park, aware that the man would likely be there for the third day in a row, Kerilyn tried to push thoughts of his disruptions into her routine from her thoughts. Almost immediately as she passed the threshold from the city to the greenery, with footsteps muffled by the grass underfoot, he announced his presence.
“Well, fancy bumping into you out here.”
Kerilyn took off her sunglasses and faced him. “There’s such a thing as stalking, y’know.”
“Me? I’m hardly a stalker. We just happen to frequent the same location at roughly the same time. I didn’t even know you took this path into the park.”
No, Kerilyn thought. I don’t usually come this way, but I did so today specifically to avoid you. As she began walking again, she made a mental note to avoid the park for a few days. Just long enough for the lovesick puppy to find a new playmate.
“Don’t you ever get lonely, standing out at the lake by yourself?” He matched her pace, slipping into his well-worn nice guy routine once more.
Kerilyn sighed, lowering her gaze. “What do you want?”
“I see a pretty woman standing by the edge of a lake, all on her lonesome, I get to wondering why she is all alone.” He let out a small, though warm, laugh. “You looked so sad, out here by yourself. I thought that a friendly face, and someone willing to listen, would be good for you.”
Staring at him from behind her protective lenses, aware that her shield of indifference had been dented, Kerilyn replaced her sunglasses. “If you must know, I go to the lake to remember.”
“Must be an awful good memory for you to spend so much time here.”
“Someone-” She thought for a moment how best to phrase the thoughts drifting through her mind. “Someone I know died on- died in the lake.”
Standing at the main entrance to the park, Keri pondered how two weeks of brief companionship had changed her expectations of the park, and how it had ceased to loom so large on her mind. There were still nights where she would awaken in a cold sweat, but the darkness had lifted. As Lucas wandered up to her smiling – always smiling, she thought – it felt natural to smile.
“And we meet again.” He gazed into her eyes, “Brown. Your eyes are brown. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you without your sunglasses.”
Her hand reached up to her face. “I must have left them at work.”
“Other things on your mind, huh?”
Keri smiled. “Don’t you go getting the wrong impression.”
“And a smile as well. Today is bringing all kinds of firsts.”
Lucas raised a hand to Keri’s cheek, and she could feel a blush blooming under his touch. “I have a surprise for you, but you’re going to have to trust me.”
“Trust you? I barely know you.”
“Well, there’s plenty of people around, and it’s not as if you don’t know me.”
“And what is it that I have to trust you about?”
“You’ll see. First though…” He reached into his pocket, removing a long piece of cloth, “You’re going to have to wear this?”
“A blindfold? Seriously? You haven’t gone and bought me a pony have you? I made that wish when I was eight, and I’ve since learned that they aren’t the delightful, sweet-smelling creatures I once imagined them to be.”
“Not a pony. Put on the blindfold, and you’ll find out soon enough.”
Walking hand-in hand, Keri felt increasingly self-conscious at the heat of Lucas’ grasp. “I can hear the water. Are we near the lake?”
“We’re nearly there. Just a few more steps.” Lucas moved behind her, moving Keri into position with his hands on her waist. “Are you ready?”
The blindfold slipped from her face, and Keri found herself staring at a small wooden rowboat, two oars laid across the stern. Her gasp of shock at a reminder of the worst day of her life did not seem to register with Lucas.
“I can’t.” She pulled from Lucas, “I can’t go back on the water.”
“No. Maybe not today. But when you are ready, and whenever you want, this will be here. For you.”
Kero looked into Lucas’ eyes, only barely aware she was speaking. “Thank you.”
She knew that one day, maybe not soon, but eventually, she would go with Lucas to the center of the lake in that vessel.