Misty water-coloured memories came flowing back as I gazed across the deep blue waters of Lake Ethereal. Sitting here in the midst of nature’s beauty it seemed impossible that just five years ago tragedy had struck right here in this peaceful country side.
The sounds of music and laughter mingled with the warm afternoon air as Athena and the rest of us at home cleaned and decorated the house to celebrate Athena’s eighteenth birthday. Athena, one year my senior was a striking beauty.
As the guests began arriving I realized with a start that Athena was not around. Not finding her in the house I ran out into the twilight until I found myself in the gardens of “The Haunted House”. It was not really haunted but being ancient and unoccupied, we, as children, had named it thus.
As I was about to turn around I heard a thin, long wail. The sound seemed to come from within the walls of the house. Shaking it off as my wild imagination I decided to leave when something made me look up at one of the windows. There, framed against the glass, smiling sweetly down at me, was Athena. Then before my very eyes she disappeared.
"Athena," I screamed, “where are you?” Only the mocking silence answered me. I was sure it was her. That tall, willowy figure and lovely auburn hair could only belong to her. Gathering all the courage I could muster I walked very slowly towards the house. The big oak door creaked open with a lot of difficulty. The house was devoid of furniture and the cobweb-carpeted wooden floorboards creaked painfully beneath my slender form.
Just when I was beginning to think that everything had been a figment of my imagination that same thin wail filled the room. I froze for a second as a door opposite me opened slowly before running blindly out the front door. I kept running until I found myself falling – falling – deep down into a strange, dark land.
I opened my heavy eye lids sometime later and heard someone say that I was alive.Confused, I sat up slowly and saw that I was lying at the edge of the waters of Lake Ethereal. Looking around vaguely I noticed a small group of people standing a little way away. Walking in a daze I pushed past them only to stop with a jolt. There, lying on the ground was, “Athena.” Unable to withstand the shock I fell down in a faint.
Days later I heard the story concerning Athena’s death and my narrow escape from the jaws of death. According to a witness, I had come flying out of the grounds of The Haunted House as though the devil himself had been chasing me. I headed straight to the lake and jumped in. Athena, who had been sitting on the grassy banks of the lake jumped in after me without a moment’s hesitation. Dear Athena who had never learnt to swim because of her fear of large expanses of water had jumped in to save me, her sister. Our witness to all these happenings plunged in after us. She had brought me ashore first as she assumed Athena could swim.
We moved to the city soon after the tragedy. I shared the strange events that took place on that day with Mum. She told me that it must definitely have been a figment of my wild imagination. I was so sure of all I had seen but as the years passed I realized that it must have been my mind playing horrid tricks on me.
Now, after five long, painful years I am coming to terms with Athena’s death. It will take even longer to forgive myself – after all, my foolishness had been the cause of my sister’s early demise. How could I have believed in the supernatural?
Sighing, I got up and began walking away. The thought of the hustle and bustle of the city made me turn around to have one last, lingering look at the scenic beauty of the place I was leaving behind.
Standing there beside the water, tall and graceful as always, was Athena.
Author Notes: From the Future
- Misty water-coloured memories - Ah yes, the 'Way We Were.'
- Athena was a striking beauty - But of course, the heroine must be beautiful!
- Auburn hair - There is life beyond "A Woman of Substance' kid, so go find it.