Bewildering Stories

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chapter 1, The Land

installment 5

by Tala Bar

Installment 4 appears in this issue.

part III, cont’d

She was a tall, slim, young doctor of twenty-five, more handsome than pretty. She and a girlfriend were having a double blind date, in a good though not too flashy restaurant. Dar had brought Jare, a young male colleague, to meet her artist friend Rima. Rima had brought her reluctant older brother, to meet Dar for the first time.

Bard was an engineer by profession and an artist by temperament, naturally shy and unforthcoming. He was an astonishingly handsome man of a rather dark appearance.

The meal was made of the regular, uninspired synthetic food, and none of the four people paid too much attention to it. Rima was her usual talkative self, laughing embarrassingly at her own jokes; she was rather plain but very lively, and she clearly attracted the attention of Dar’s companion, at least for the moment. Bard answered Dar’s questions in one- and two-word sentences, almost forcing her into a silent reflection on his appearance. He was a slender man of medium height, which made the two of them similar in stature. Dar, never too keen on beautiful men, thought his handsomeness rather offensive. He had regular, harmonious features, almond-shaped black eyes with long dark lashes, straight nose and such cute mouth that in spite of herself, she would have kissed him on the spot. Besides that mouth, there was nothing in him to attract her, he certainly was not her regular type, and she could not understand Rima’s mind in bringing him to meet her.

After the meal, while Rima and Jare had gone to see a show, Dar and Bard took a walk on the promenade by the lake. Astonishingly, it seemed to have been this expanse of water that had wakened him up. It was his passion for the lake and his hobby of sailing on it, which had finally drawn her toward this reserved man. His mere excitement about his aspiration to by a small boat of his own, which awakened in Dar a mounting excitement, plunging her into a special, mysterious mood quite unfamiliar to her.

In her dream, the magic of that night had enveloped Dar as it had done on that first meeting. Dar had never been particularly attracted by the lake. Hidden below its pretty, changeable surface, she knew how polluted the water was, permanently and completely unusable. When the wind blew toward the shore, no one could avoid absorbing the stifling, sharp smell rising from the water.

They were lucky that night that the wind blew away from the shore toward the lake, and the stench did not disrupt the enchantment of the atmosphere. A full moon shone, playing hide-and-seek on the soft ripple, breaking up into myriad moons glittering back at them. Sails from the marina spread like bright sheets to wave a salute, and for a moment Dar felt herself carried onto the middle of lake, the water swishing around her, the full silver sails flapping like the wings of some giant bird.

“Do you sail?” Bard asked. More than listening to his words she had been imbibing their poetry. She laughed. What was it in him that had released such hidden force inside her?

“No, I haven’t had the time for it. And actually, I am a little scared of being on the water.”

“There’s nothing to be scared of, if you know what you’re doing. I have a friend who owns a boat, and maybe I’ll borrow it one day and we’ll go together?”

She turned to look at him. He faced her squarely, their eyes on a level. His dark hair flew softly in the breeze, his shapely lips shone in the moonlight. His beautiful eyes were examining her seriously.

She smiled. “Is it an invitation?”

“It is,” he replied.

“You are very sure,” she was a little surprised, remembering his behavior at dinner, and Rima’s description of him as shy and hesitant.

“I am, with you,” he said. His face came very close to hers and she melted into their kiss.

A sudden burst of pain grasped Dar’s heart in her sleep. A black cloud covered the moon, a silent wind raised the black water of the lake; high waves rose, threatening to inundate them... She clung to him, and he melted to nothing in her arms; she turned and started to run toward the lake, stepping on its water, climbing the tall waves, fighting the storm, calling, calling, shouting his name until her throat constricted and no voice came out... She woke to find herself drenched in sweat, as if she had indeed been in the water, in the lake, which she knew was no more...

To be continued...

Copyright © 2004 by Tala Bar

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