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The Healing Lake

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It may be fifty years since we got married, but it only seems like yesterday. Half a century has gone in the blink of an eye. Five decades of happiness and woes, triumphs and failures, laughter and tears. Memories come and go, but one day I will always remember was our honeymoon. We didn’t have a lot of cash at the time, so we took any deal that was offered. It being winter, we hoped for a flight to somewhere warm. Alas, that wasn’t to be. All we could afford was a week in a cabin on a mountain lake. Unfortunately for us, that lake was up north, the very cold up north. But at least it took us out of the city for a while. Even if we did freeze, we would be alone together. We were both excited as we packed our cases into our trusty Ford and made our way north.

We left early in the morning, but the journey took longer than we thought. We were hoping to arrive in the late afternoon, instead, it was almost midnight. That was our first visit out of town, and we were both surprised by how dark it was. Once the headlights were off, that was it—total darkness. Being stupid, I didn’t think to bring a flashlight. I guessed that living in the city where it’s always light, everywhere was the same. The only plus side was that we could see just about every star there was to see, millions of them. The next thing that hit us was the silence. No traffic noise, sirens or alarms going off. No buzz from the neon lights—nothing, absolutely nothing. The only way we could make it to the cabin without getting lost was with me staying in the car with the headlights on while Sally walked to the cabin. Even that sounded easier than it was.

She made it to the cabin all right but finding a light switch proved a little harder. Eventually, we both made it and even worked out how to start the fire. As far as city folk go, we were about as unprepared as you could get. We took it all in our stride; after all, it was our honeymoon. Not the one we planned, but a honeymoon nonetheless. By the time we got settled and warmed up, it was time for bed. It had been a long day for both of us. The unpacking could wait until another day. To be fair, that first night in a cosy cabin was wonderful. Going off to sleep with the silence only broken by the sound of a crackling fire was heaven. We may have been only two hundred miles from home, but it felt more like a million.

Sally was the first to wake. I was greeted with the smell of freshly brewed coffee. Sally was excited and wanted me to go to the window. I had no idea what would be out there. We had arrived in pitch-black darkness. For all I knew, we could have been on Mars. What I saw was unforgettable: a beautiful lake surrounded by trees as far as the eye could see. The sun was shining through the fresh, clean air. I could see for miles. I said to Sally at the time that if this was the last thing I saw, it would be enough. Breakfast could wait; I just wanted to go down and touch the water, Sally agreed. We left the cases on the floor and walked down in the clothes we wore for the journey. That turned out to be a mistake. Not so much the clothing as Sally’s shoes; they had heels, and the path to the lake was rocky. We only made it halfway before Sally twisted her ankle.

I offered to carry her back to the cabin to rest up; she just wanted to go to the lake. Somehow, we managed to make it all the way, albeit a little slower than when we started. As soon as we got there, Sally took her shoes off. Her sprained ankle was starting to swell. A cold towel is usually good for a swelling, but of course, we didn’t have one. The only other option was to put her foot in the water. To this day, I can still hear her scream, “Oh my god, it’s bloody freezing.” Still, she managed to keep it in there until the swelling reduced. By now we were both getting a little cold, and hungry so started our way back. Sally had no trouble walking and was convinced that the lake had some sort of magical healing powers. She said that her foot felt as good as new. From that day on we called it the healing lake.

After we had breakfast, Sally started to unpack the cases. I was standing by the window, admiring the view, when Sally started to have fits of laughter. Not little laughs or giggles, full on fits. Tears were rolling down her face as she tried to speak to me. I kept asking what was so funny, but every time she tried to speak, she just laughed more and more. I finally got the joke when she held up our swimsuits and blurted out, "Well, I guess we won’t be needing these." I swear, that was the most we ever laughed. I am still laughing, fifty years later. We may not have had much money back then, but that was the best holiday we ever had. I would give anything to be back there with her now.

As I sat there waiting for the doctor to switch her machine off, all those happy memories came flooding back. When the machines went quiet, I whispered in her ear. "Wait for me at the healing lake. I’ll be there as soon as I can. And please don’t worry; I’ll bring our swimming costumes." I was happy to see her pass with a smile on her face.

Written by Brad_Naylor
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