Author: Hari Navarro, Staff Writer

“Do you know what happens when you stare into television static?”, he asks.

“You start to see patterns, forms that join and fuse and start to make sense of the chaos. The flickering separates like pulled away meat, not completely, just enough for the bones below to be glimpsed. And, we can see just what it is that holds up the crackling pixel-bound madness”, he replies.

But today, as he stares again into the lake, he can find no shred of sanity in its cruel and noisome horror. No good can be plucked from the empty drop that falls beneath its surface. The deep fleck filled hollow that surrounds the stab beam of his torch.

What was that last thing she said? And he breathes in the night’s air and it slits like a pipe to the throat.

As a child he had wandered off and lost himself here. The tapping had drawn him to the ice. He’d fallen to his knees and drawn his arm across its flake packed surface and there, beneath the window, she hung.

This tiniest of things. No larger than a kitten and, for a moment, he’d thought her just that. Her eyes staring upward creamy and blind. A pet, cast into the water as trash. But, then, she moved and he saw the pale translucence of her skin and saw she’d a tail and not legs.

That first winter he sat night after night and told her things. How his mother and sister would char the backs of spoons and then draw up its bubbling mess and push it into their arms. And how they made him do things for money.

Then she was gone. He tried to find her when the ice melted away but she disappeared into each new year’s thaw. These winter-less months were long and painful and he longed for the cold to return, when he could tap at the ice with a staff until no longer it cracked and, again, she’d return to the light.

They grew up together and though she never uttered a single word she spoke to him endlessly, evolving into the most beautiful thing and he cried as she swirled in the deep.

She made him breathe when he felt as if his lungs were a sea, when he spoke of the loathing he tried to supplant as he picked at his thigh with a fork.

All they’d left was his husk and she’d filled it, topping and levelling him off. Intricately piecing him back. Steadying him as he stacked his detritus in unfinished towers in the middle of a place in his head.

Stacks that wobbled at the slightest of movement, but pillars nonetheless. Legs to hold him up and present him bitter and sodden with doubt to a life from whose wheel his hands did so constantly slip.

Girls. He knew they could sense the unease that slid through his veins. But with her, he thought that she loved him. That they would be together and one day she would break through the ice and she’d kiss him.

And he would kiss her.

“Be”, that’s what she’d said.

We were warned. The winters have become obsolete. It snows. A dirty black sludge but for years now the lake no longer forms its thick window crust.

“I remember the patterns you wove. I’ll do this life to its very long end. I will not waste this thing you’ve helped me become.

Though I’m jealous, like a god, for I so want for the peace that you have”, said the man into the murk at his feet.