SPIRIT OF THE LAKE: A WINTER FAIRYTALE





S

o the snow fell and vanished in a blink like cotton candy on a wet tablecloth. So the ghosts wandered about the lake, softly and in love, like the wind adores the dark sky. And it was gloomy dark and silent that night. And it was Christmas Eve and snowing like in the olden times.

         Two white birds with golden beaks flew over the lake. They were majestically small and drew several circles around the unfrozen pond before they dropped in a little silver box. Then they flew away, fast as they came, strong like a stream of water on a burning branch.

The lake opened up with a sigh and swallowed the gift from the sky. The box could fit in a child’s hand, but as it traveled to the bottom of the lake, it grew and grew till it was big enough to fit a Christmas chocolate cake, or grandma’s old recipe book with half its pages torn apart. The dark waters lightened up with the silver glow of the box from above.

The Lady of the Waters held the illuminating object in her hands. Her transparent skin lit up as her blue eyes blinked twice. She pulled the lid back to peek inside the box.



T

he snow fell in fistfuls, hard, with the persistence of survival. A strong wind rose from the woods, traveled across the sleeping fields and kissed the lake with the passion of a flaming sun.

Steen Leatherberry, a young boy of twelve years of age, came out of the woods after the wind. He moved to the brink of the water. He was covered up in his father’s long winter coat. The patches that his mother had made on it still clung onto the old fabric -- all except for one. A big hole on the right shoulder blade let the wind in, making Steen shiver every time he received a new blow.

He looked at the dark waters long and hard. The snowflakes danced around his face, chasing the wind’s fiddle. Steen didn’t notice the snowflakes or the wind. His eyes were fixed on the water; his breathing was short and shallow.

He took one uncertain step—a second one and he would wet his toes in the water. He hesitated for a moment but then advanced with renewed resolution.

His feet entered the freezing waters like a blade enters a nightmare. Steen didn’t even blink. He was passing onto the other side and his senses were deserting him fast.

The woods opened up once again to let the figure of a tired snowman out. He was round and tall with all the things one would expect to see on a snowman: the button eyes, the carrot nose, the pipe in his mouth and the scarf around his neck. The only thing that seemed out of place was a walking stick in his right hand.

The Snowman hurried to the lake when he saw that Steen was about to step in. Hurrying, however, in the case of a snowman meant no more than wiggling the lower part of his body a bit more vigorously than before. No matter how he tried, he’d never reach the boy on time.

“Steen! Wait!” the Snowman yelled after the boy, but Steen’s senses had long abandoned him. Inside the waters he went, slowly and steadily like any decent sleepwalker would have.

The water came up to his thighs and waist, reached his chest, covered his neck. The Snowman reached the lake just a second before Steen’s head disappeared into the water.

“No!!!” the Snowman cried, but only the wind replied in a harsh and unforgiving wallowing.

The Snowman remained still on the rim of the water. He gazed at the image of himself – a pitiful, round explosion of dead snow. He yearned to save Steen, the little boy who had given him form and life only two days ago. He burnt with desire to get in the water and pull Steen out, but not all the fire of Christmas fireplaces would save him, the Snowman, from melting away should he take one little step in the lake.

The Snowman wished he were human, he wished he had flesh that could resist water; he wished that he could breathe life into someone’s lungs. He noticed a few bubbles on the water and knew Steen’s lungs were fighting an uneven battle.

The Snowman could no longer stand still. His beloved Steen was walking the underwater paths of oblivion, and he, Steen’s creation and companion, was staying on the rim to protect his useless white frost of a body.

The Snowman fell into the water with a big splash that sent quivers to his white heart. He descended fast into the fluid kingdom and felt himself getting lighter and lighter.

He looked around the murky waters and saw Steen’s body at the bottom, all curled up, sleeping the great sleep of the Greek God Morpheus.

The Snowman struggled against his own perish and got to Steen’s little body with a hop. He lifted the boy as gently as he could and walked across the bottom of the lake. His own body was merging with the fluid medium bit-by-bit, step-by-step. His waist was thinning, his hand could no longer hold onto his walking stick.

With a last effort, he reached the shore and pushed little Steen onto safe ground. The Snowman’s face smiled and his white heart warmed up as he took one last look at the beloved boy before he fell back into the waters, too weak to fight against gravity.

He fell into a hole of darkness, each second consuming him -- his body, his roundness, his frost -- till there was so little of him, he was smaller than Steen.

He surrendered to the end of all, like a troubled mind surrenders to ancient dreams of nirvana. He thought he saw a dim silver light in the distance and gathered it was the end of his snow-borne life.

The light drew closer and larger and the Snowman closed his button eyes. He felt a weightless hand on his head and heard a whispering voice in his ear, “You did a good thing tonight.”

The voice had the quality of water trapped within glass.

The Snowman opened his eyes and saw the Lady of the Waters in front of him. She was tall and beautiful with her long white hair wrapped around her body and her gray eyes radiating like diamond stones.

In her hands she was holding the silver box she had received from the sky. It burnt like a thousand volts, or two million stars.

The Snowman could not speak.

“What do you want?” The Lady asked him.

“I-- I want-- I want to know the future!” he said, gasping for expansion.

The lady of the Waters considered this with her eyes closed.

“The future becomes the past within seconds,” she said in her whispering glass-like voice. “I can show you the past then.”

The Snowman nodded. He was able to see now like he had never seen before.

“Steen wanted to die in the water,” the Lady began, “because his father drowned tonight and he didn’t have the heart to tell his mother. It was an accident, you see, for he fell off the bridge he was working on. His co-workers saw that. They knew he couldn’t swim. But nobody cared enough to go after him in the cold night. So Steen’s father died.”

The Lady of the Waters stopped. She could hear the wind and the wind could hear her just fine. She then asked the wind if Steen was going to live. The wind replied that Steen had no wish to live, but his young body tried to hold on to life like the leaves hold on to the tree.

The Lady of the Waters looked at the Snowman again. She lifted the silver box in front of his eyes. “Do you see this?”

“What is it?” the Snowman asked.

“It’s a spirit. Every Christmas Eve I get to keep a spirit with me down here. I keep the spirit for a year before I receive a new one, and then the old one flies away to join the other spirits in their everlasting pilgrimage of the skies. Bright spirits keep me company down here in the silence of the waters. But your deed was so great that I decided to release this new spirit tonight. In you.”

She opened the lid of the box just an inch and the light that was released was so bright that the stars above turned pale.

The Lady of the Waters looked at the Snowman again. “You understand, this is the spirit of Steen’s father.”

The Snowman listened quiet, turning into a soft, white soccer ball.

“By releasing it upon you, it will enter your body with a force you didn’t know possible. The two of you will merge through your love for Steen. And the two of you will have saved him.”

The Snowman felt his first tears on his cheek, juicing away more and more of him.

The Lady of the Waters opened up the box. She drew the spirit out and placed it on the Snowman’s heart.

The Snowman’s melting body was struck with a powerful electric shock and his mouth whispered his last words before fainting into his new existence: “Spirit of the Lake.”


S

o the snow fell and persisted like hot fudge on vanilla ice cream. So the ghosts wandered about the lake, whining and looking for someone to scare away.

           Steen’s body was freezing with cold and anguish, but his forehead was burning up. Snowflakes covered his eyes, seaweeds crawled upon his cheeks.

The surface of the water was suddenly disturbed. The snow paused its descend and the ghosts looked at each other. The figure of a man came out of the lake and walked onto the bank. The man found Steen and knelt down by him. The snow started dancing again and the ghosts prepared themselves to eavesdrop.

The man was pale, his clothes wet like a cookie in milk. Deep wrinkles cut across his forehead but his mouth was youthful and charming. He touched the boy’s face, and rubbed away the snow and the weeds.

Steen’s eyes opened with the memory of some beloved hands.

“Father!” he said shocked and in disbelief.

His father’s eyes misted over. “We have been blessed,” he said. “We have been blessed by the spirits of the water and the snow.”

Steen blinked with the wonder of a newborn.

The father picked up Steen and kissed his eyes. “Look, my dear boy,” he said, “the town is getting ready for Christmas.”

Steen saw the fog disappear as the Christmas lights in the town opened up their bosom to receive his glance.

His father took his hand. “Come,” he said, “your mother must be worried sick.”

The two of them walked away, never letting go of each other’s hand.

“What was that?” the ghosts asked the wind.

“That was a Snowman’s wish come true,” the wind replied. “A Snowman became a real man tonight. You always have to lose part of yourself to become real.”


©2017 by Stella Samiotou Fitzsimons. AllRightsReserved


 
 

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