I used to call it the sparkling lake because the water shone even in the greyest weather, as if a light was switched on at the bottom. I had been to this lake many times; it was my favourite place when I was younger.
I was there when they embraced near the lake. I had been briskly making my way home when I saw them. Taking the short cut through the park as I usually did, not dwelling in its beauty as I had when I was younger; the sight of them made me halt. The man had been waiting silently. He seemed to be translucent. A glowing woman emerged from a bubbling lake surface, steam rising with her entrance. They appeared hesitant in their embrace, careful in fact. They were both like nothing I’d ever seen before, they certainly were not human. Human women did not glow like that; make water boil with their mere touch. Men were solid but this man seemed to be made of liquid. I didn’t know what they were; I stood hidden behind an engulfing willow tree, transfixed.
Suddenly the see-through man startled the glowing lady with a passionate kiss; it was in that moment that something went wrong. A shrill scream seemed to escape from the embrace as a burning flame appeared to be scorching their lips. The man was struggling; gasping noises were escaping his mouth. He fell to the ground. He was no longer translucent but charcoal black, like a marshmallow that had been roasted too long on an open fire.
The glowing woman was crying, “I knew this would happen, we cannot defy nature, and fire can only play with fire!”
Her voice was getting louder and louder, so much so that I thought my head was going to burst.
“You were made of purity”, she yelled at the charcoal figure lying motionless, “and I engulfed you, turning all that was white into black. I’m sorry for your life and for my heart because it is now forever broken”.
It was then that she saw me. She seemed confused for a moment, thrown off, my presence had startled her. I feared for my safety as I stood shivering, conscious of every movement I was making.
Her skin seemed to sizzle as she said those last two words, like her sadness and anger had started a fire within her and was burning her skin from the inside out. Steam seemed to rise from her flesh, a sight that would make any mortal’s blood boil. She was the essence of the sun; to get too close could prove fatal.
Her screams were like daggers piercing through my skin, pain I could feel, pain which seemed to paralyse me. Her vividly bright eyes bore into mine, her anger and pain clearly visible in the shimmering hazel. I wanted to touch her, to sooth her, but my body would not move. My brain controlled my heart; to get closer would only mean pain. I was forced to watch the scene unfold, to watch this surreal being lose the one she loves. It was an accident I was not supposed to witness, between creatures I never imagined. Yet here I was, all alone, having to face a more-than-woman who had accidently killed her lover.
She continued staring into my eyes; they burned from not looking away. Tears streaming down her face evaporated with a sizzle; it felt like an eternity before she unlocked her gaze. Then she simply stepped into the lake and disappeared. All I could see was a heap of blackness on the grass near the lake surface, I was afraid to approach but even more afraid that this had all been a wild hallucination. I cautiously left the shelter of the willow as my body finally allowed me to step forward into the open towards the lake.
My legs were shaking under me as I approached the black figure. As I got closer I realised that all that was there was ash, ash that was slowly being blown away by the wind. A shiver ran down my spine. I forced myself to step to the edge of the lake, where the glowing woman had sank in, sizzling noises marking her exit. I bent over to see if I could glimpse anything, the lake no longer shone, it was dark. Not the dull colour that water can sometimes be, but pitch black. I could not see a thing; it didn’t even look like water anymore. The texture wasn’t liquid; it looked solid. It was as though the life force that shone within had felt no reason to continue shining.