The lights that had been hung in the trees, and dangled across the open night sky, were disguised by flickering stars. If you took the moment to look out at the lake that rested in the valley of the foothills, it was impossible to see the difference between them. It was beautiful. I walked through clouds of laughter and happiness. Their show had been a success. The glass of crystal champagne in my hand seemed to hold onto the warmth, and as I took a careful sip my Mom wrapped her arm through my own. “What a great party,” she squeezed me tight and we continued to walk through the ballet of the audience.
It felt like a movie, or a page from the production we had successfully performed that night. Glamourous dresses, a romantic setting, a feast and the moonlit lake, it was just as the party in Act II, though that party had less of a magical flavor. A haunting setting, filled with murder and fear would have made this party and that, one in the same.
But now, that show was a shadow in all ours minds and the party progressed. The leading men and leading ladies danced around with their friends and family as my Mom and I walked our own way down the grassy tracks. Years ago, we would drive up this path to the cabin above the lake. Then, I was a ambitious university student, unable to understand the apparent lack of ambition and passion in my mother’s daily activity. But not tonight. Tonight, I had reached my highest ambitions. Tonight the conversation between us was fluid. Tonight, I finally understood my mother’s passion and her ambitions. It was nice to see my Mom again, see her like this.
Further we walked away from the songs of laughter, and down the hill towards the lake. That’s when it all started. Smiles of confusion spread onto our faces as we watched a car back up further and further, while we waited for the break lights to flash in the night. The break lights never came. We watched as the headlights bent up towards the sky. The car began to slide into the dark forest behind it. I heard my champagne glass shatter behind me as my legs started running. My Mom called for help.
As I watched the lights sink below the surface of the lake, I noticed another figure running down the stony beach. His pace matched mine, lengthening and fighting against the uneven earth. Below him the stones on the beach were flung into the lake, creating an uneven wake of his progress. I slid down the leaf covered and muddy hill, my hands fighting the Earth for balance. He beat me in our blind, heroic charge. The lights of the car had come to a rest on the bottom of the lake. For a moment they flashed, as their blurred highs were blocked by his form diving deeper into the cold water.
I skidded to the edge of the lake, cascading my own wake of stones into the water. I waited. My eyes searched even though they could not see past where the reflection of the moon was broken on the surface. It was only in my imagination that I saw the frantic scene going on below; the lungs screaming for air, the grabbing of others trying to fight their way to the surface and the frantic fingers pulling on seat belts and door handles. I knew I would be useless below the surface, and I waited.
The first hand broke the surface, and grabbing hold of a now broken sapling, I reached out for it. A wide face, eyes and mouth and nose, blind in fear followed fast and with all my might I dragged him onto the shore. He was clawing up my arms, drawing blood with his nails. I bit my lip to stop the screams, the pain would certainly be worse below the surface. A second hand broke the surface, as the distinctive snapping of branches sounded from the forest, More people were coming to help. I clutched tight to the second hand, and again began pulling the frighten man towards me. More hands reached around to help me. Someone began carrying me away from the scene, wrapping a towel about my shoulders.
“One more,” I shouted to deaf ears, “there is one more below!” What was he doing? “No, you can’t there is one more below the water!” My Mom took my hand and pulled me down the lake where the lights of an ambulance bit into the night. “There is one more,” I shouted again as my Mom hushed me. “You saved them all, they are all going to be okay,” she pulled the towel tighter, rubbing my arms.
That was the night where everything became another. There were more parties and more nights where I walked underneath the stars and the moon. It was just another way I laughed with my friends. Now, when I looked at the moon I saw it broken on the surface of the night sky. Even the moon was another.