Do you remember the story of a boy and his first date? She took him to the lake and he fell in love - She Took Him To The Lake, Alkaline Trio
The first night they went down to the lake the moon had been full. It glowed with a dull yellow shine casting shimmering gloom across the water. The water reflected the faces of the children as they stood on the shore, hand in hand. Julie was eleven years old. She wore a yellow polka dot skirt and a red cardigan over a white t shirt. Her complexion was soft, and with every anxious movement of Tom’s hand, she smiled a little.
Tom stood next to her. He was not familiar with the etiquette on such dates though he thought Julie might be. It was rumoured around the school that Julie had already kissed a boy in the year above. Tom tried hard to shake these thoughts from his mind for they prompted a tremendous discomfort in his stomach. He had come close to kissing Jessica Albrin once but there were logistic issues neither of them seemed to be able to overcome. Tonight though, it would be different.
Julie was as beautiful as a girl could be. Long blonde hair that flowed to her shoulder blades, still, blue eyes and the prettiest, sweetest face you would ever see. Tom’s friends assumed she had gone out with him for a dare but Tom thought he knew better. There was a definite spark. As Tom drew shapes in the pebbles with his foot, Julie spoke of the summer she spent picking apples with her grandfather from the family’s orchard.
“You’re too pretty to be picking apples.”
Tom blushed more than she did.
That night Tom had commented on how funny it was when he dropped a pebble into the lake they could still see their reflection, only it looked as if they were melting. When order was restored in the water, Tom would chuckle out loud and Julie smiled inwardly. The moon still shone. The light followed the couple as they walked back up the bank to their beds. The shimmer of the water remained after Tom and Julie had left, only without the reflection of their young faces the lake was much darker.
The two children continued to visit the lake each night throughout the summer. When the nights grew longer and the wind howled through the trees, Julie told Tom it was better they did not go back until the next summer, when the evening was cooler and the flowers bloomed once again.
They returned to the lake only a few times after the first summer, where they would spend long nights under the stars together, staring uncomfortably into each others eyes while Julie held Tom in her arms.
Their love was the talk of the town – ‘the sweetest thing’, ‘first love’. Playground romance had blossomed against all expectations.
One day at the end of summer, years after they met, as the leaves began to turn and drop from their trees, as the days grew shorter, as desire grew damper, Julie turned up at Tom’s house unannounced. She stood on the steps up to the porch for five minutes, waiting, looking for an excuse to turn back. She faced the door at first, but to postpone her task she turned a full circle admiring the paraphernalia that lay around the garden. To the right of the path a tree stole much of the garden’s space. Julie had never been sure of what kind of tree it was but it was beautifully majestic. It seemed to rise for miles and blocked out Tom’s house from the view of her bedroom window. The trunk had both their names carved into it.
It must have been six or seven years ago Tom tried to etch their love into the tough bark. For Tom, this was to serve as the ultimate gesture of his commitment. It was naïve. Tom’s knife failed and Julie reluctantly ran home to fetch her father’s hunting knife before any progress could be made.
To the left of the path lay an open space of grass, home to a rusted bike, a broken hose and various footballs and tennis balls that were now settled firmly into the ground; the grass grew around them, entombing them. At least once a year as spring beckoned, Julie thought, Tom would “get all memorable”, as he called it, and wish to fix up the bike, pry out the balls and relive “those days”. Julie would laugh it off, pretending she thought he was joking when really she knew there was nothing more he wanted to do. She looked around the neighbour’s houses noting the families that had come and gone. It seemed only Mrs. Rayes remained. She used to watch the two of them go to the lake in the evening, and be sure to say Goodnight to them a few hours later, making sure they returned home safe. But now she was ill. Her husband passed away and she was confined to the house. Julie had not seen her smile in months.
Tom’s mother saw Julie standing on the porch and shouted to Tom. Julie was not ready for him yet and only managed to grimace weakly at him when he greeted her. Her eyes shone with the emptiness Tom had always feared.
It was easier than Julie expected. The excitement of young love was replaced with a love of convenience. Where soulmates once stood, there was now superficial, strained emotion and naïve expectation. She did not tell him this. It would have destroyed him. She told him, and this was the truth, her grandfather had fallen ill and she had to go look after her grandmother and the farm. This was her chance to make a fresh start, to gain experience in life and work, and love.
He turned white as if all the life had been sucked out of him and all that remained was a bloodied frame. The wound ran deep. It had been quick and purposefully executed. The girl remained on the porch, still, holding the cut, stopping the blood from pouring out. The boy explored death. “We can make this work”. She twisted the knife. The blood began to seep. From the corner of his eye at first, then from his mouth, and finally from his heart.
She did not expect to go this far, but after this there was no coming back. She had to end this with no hope of revival. The boy fell to the ground. After she did all she could, she left. Down the path, the tree to the left of her burst into flames and branches fell around her. To the right, the bike burnt through the ground leaving a hole in the grass into which you could see the depths of hell. As she reached the bottom of the path, the girl turned back for her parting shot. There was no use. He was there, but there was nothing left.
This was one the first short stories I ever wrote. I loved the imagery created by Alkaline Trio’s track and couldn’t resist using the song’s story as a basis for a piece.