It was a feeling she had, that everything would begin in spring. Similar faces, different set of eyes. She was seeing them simultaneously. Seeing the two faces conjoin and then part, speak with unconditional likeness, disembody one figure for a whole. That morning, she heard a man coughing in the distance. The night before, they had told her the disease had become airborne, would travel over the water, and when the ice would melt, it would flood in through the banks, through the walls. She knew none of them were prepared, but she couldn’t do anything. One of the guards had confronted her, asking why she let up before the fight began. She said only the weak refuse to surrender, the courageous resist but ultimately accept their fate. In the morning she was called for by the voice, the man coughing in the distance. Finding him hiding under the shade of pine trees, she sat beside him and wept. The flight of migratory birds passed overhead, coloring the over cast sky. She was hoping to flee, hoping to pass while the ice was still frozen over. She imagined the fate of a stranded swan, wrapped in an icy blanket. When it warmed, the ice covering the swan’s corpse melted, and the abandoned vessel sank deep into the water. I wasn’t there to see it, but she was. She says the flight of birds is still a mystery. We were watching from the shrub while the few boats drowned. Don’t you remember, the voice said to her. I reached out and you were gone.
The lake was formed by two distinct sides, accessible from either shore, from which the parallel side remains visible. On the one side, a deliberate glamorization has steadily evolved the nature of the shore, though somewhat slowed by an economic down turn in recent years, nonetheless sweetening the landscape, rescuing it from its tired form. Any success owes much to the rehabilitation, and regular nursing, of lakeside chestnut trees, whose seedlings fall angrily against the ground, withering beside an array of weeping willows and elderflower nesting below similar variant trees stretching further away from the water. She had told me, recently, before the divorce, investigating the sudden intrusion of Varroa mites into the forest, she was surprised to discover a wild strawberry patch had grown in the absence of natural vegetation. In her opinion, standing perfectly still within the frame of the strawberry patch, it was possible to dismiss the summer chorus of laughter playing feverishly across the bank, focusing her attention to the spot where she stood, feet pressed firmly against the earth, her hand holding the bark of a towering tree. When the memory comes to you, he asked, are you nervous? His eyes pierced the moonlight’s hollow glow. The image, sutured into her thoughts. The memory of the day, unsettled.
In an August entry the summer she disappeared, she recounted to him the story of two children swept ashore, their legs bound together with fishermen’s rope. Standing at a water-logged trench of the bank, she listened carefully, closing her eyes so as to meditate on the sounds, embracing the dissonant cries of a murder of crows passing overhead. A flight of swallows dipping underneath the low-lying bush to veer into his sight. Had she pictured the image herself, hoping to entomb the living vessel of their shared past, she would not have noticed his face, watching her from across the shore.