Sunday, May 19Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

The Lake and Your Name

Hayley Geneva

Her bare arms were a stark white in contrast to the murky turquoise of the lake. The sun’s rays pierced the surface and lit up the waters below in glistening fingers of light. She kept her eyes locked onto her arms and hands, following the course of each snaking movement. Occasionally her eyes would wander towards the black pit beneath her and she would begin to tilt, as if she were falling off a cliff, slipping into the sweet nothingness below her. 

She stopped for a moment to tread water and breathe in the summertime breeze, it began coiling itself around her face and shoulders. It’s okay, it seemed to say. There was an inflatable obstacle course to her right, and she could hear the children shrieking with laughter as they tumbled into the water. The sound vibrated through the lake, eventually wrapping itself in a warm embrace around her body. She let herself tune into their excitement. She felt alive. One child bombed from the highest peak, his friends squealed their support after him. She began swimming again before the boy returned to the surface. Her feelings of excitement vanished as she was greeted by the water again. She kept her mind fixed on counting her reps to distract herself from the impending sense of doom she had developed. 

Left, right, left and breathe. 

Right, left, right and breathe. 

Left, right, left and breathe. 

She hadn’t intended on swimming in the lake today. She’d woken up infatuated with the idea of a morning swim. It was like something had been calling her there. She hadn’t had the strength to decline that call. Didn’t want to decline. She swam faster. Putting all of her force into each of her strokes to propel herself further forwards. She wasn’t sure why. She felt blank. Empty. The edges of reality started to blur and splash into the water around her. She couldn’t escape the gnawing sensation growing in her stomach that something bad was about to happen. Something very bad. 

A warm wave of water washed over her. It soothed her broken mind. She let it fill in the empty spaces of her being. She felt complete. Her strokes started to grow more and more heavy. She kept forgetting to turn her head to breathe. Something called her name. She felt it rumble through the body of the whole lake. She listened. Tried to come in closer to hear what exactly it was saying. The sun’s rays couldn’t reach her she’d sunk so far down. Just as she tried to come up for air, the lake reared its jaw. She screamed a bubble-filled call for help that no one heard. She kicked frantically towards the surface. Her fingertips just grazing the top of the water before the lake swallowed her whole.