By Jake Kale
It had started just after eight o’clock, after the last flicker of sunlight had faded beneath the distant hills opposite the lake. Greg Trent thought at first that they were exceptionally bright stars that had somehow penetrated the murky blanket of cloud cover. Then Monica noticed they were moving, streaking down towards the Earth, and the two of them had gone out onto the patio and watched as wave after wave of trailing lights appeared, raining down like interstellar gold dust into the valley below and disappearing into the pitch-black depths of the lake. “What do you think they are?” Monica asked from beside him, her voice hushed by awe, trepidation, or both.
“I don’t know. Meteors, I suppose,” Greg replied, his own voice subdued, not taking his eyes off the vision before him. There was a haunting, dreamlike quality to it, one that seemed to pervade the warm night air. The very composition of the scene—the framing of the lake within the valley, the deep shadows of the distant fells, the still, enigmatic waters and the otherworldly illuminata they claimed—was all so perfect as to seem unreal, yet it was. And neither Greg nor Monica could look away.
He sensed her drawing close. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“Me neither,” he whispered back. “God, I wish I’d gotten some batteries for the camera.”
“There might be some in the cottage,” Monica said.
He still had the camera with him, but he doubted that it would work and he couldn’t be sure if there were any batteries spare. And he didn’t want to go inside to look and risk missing the display, because not only had he never seen or heard of anything like this happening before, Greg doubted anyone had. This was a unique meteorological event, something totally unprecedented. It was beautiful, yet at the same time Greg couldn’t shake off an instinctive foreboding. He knew that was only natural, but at the same time he hoped it wasn’t warranted.
“Wow,” he heard Monica whisper reverently as she took his left arm in both of hers, and Greg leaned into her, feeling her long hair brush against his neck, and smiled. Ever the pragmatist, she’d snapped him out of his reverie and summed up the appropriate emotional response better that his mannered prose ever could.
She’s far too good for me, Greg thought.
He and Monica watched the spectacle for another five minutes, and Greg felt his excitement build exponentially as each passed. He wanted to go down to the lake, yet at the same time he wanted to stand here holding hands with his wife and watch forever. After a thoroughly debilitating day, this one special moment had brought them closer together than they’d been in weeks, and Greg didn’t want it to end. Yet he knew that it would, and sure enough after another minute or so the shower began to thin out until finally the last embers trickled down and were extinguished. The night sky their celestial visitors had arrived from was again obscured by dark clouds, the lake waters calmly guarding their secrets, the mild air quiet. “All good things,” Greg said softly. He cocked his head in Monica’s direction.
His wife gazed up at him, strands of dark hair drifting across her face. A suggestive smile tugged lightly at the corner of her mouth. “Feeling adventurous?”
Greg felt his own cheek rise in reciprocation. “A little.”
“Then stop your grinnin’ and drop your linen!” That was an old in-joke, one that had started off as crude seduction technique but had now become a generic call-to-arms. Neither of them had used in ages, and it felt good to hear it again. To feel adventurous again. Monica’s grin broadened.
The two off them dashed back into their small rented cottage. Imaginatively named The Lakeview Cottage, it was a simple, open-plan building, “sparsely but elegantly furnished, all mod-cons included”, to quote the brochure. Greg headed straight for the stairs opposite the patio and up to the galleried bedroom, ducking to accommodate the sloping ceiling as he retrieved his brother’s old camera from one of the bags in the wardrobe. The camera ate up batteries like there was no tomorrow, and he’d given up on using it because of this, but if he could find just two serviceable batteries he might get a few good snaps out of it. He made his way back down the stairs, calling to Monica, “You find any batteries?”
“Here, use the ones for the remote,” she yelled back, tossing the TV remote control over to him as he reached the foot of the stairs. He gratefully retrieved the two AA’s from inside and checked that they worked, then removed them and put them in his jeans pocket so as not to risk them running down. Monica grabbed her handbag and both their jackets, chucking his over to him, and the two of them stood silently at the threshold of the cottage for a moment as a subtle jolt of anticipation passed between them. “Ready?” Monica said.
“As I’ll ever be,” Greg replied. And with that she opened the door and the two of them stepped out into the unknown.
Out of the Depths by Jake Kale is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.