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The Things Once Lost

by Lora Danielson 2 months ago in Short Story

Frozen Pond

As she stares out the window the grey that seems to have a hold on the whole world starts to consume her. Spring is around the corner and her mind wanders to what she can do to pass the time until the sun is finally shining. The thoughts of frolicking in the sun wearing short shorts and bathing suit tops are a much happier place in her mind than the dreary, heavy grey surrounding her out the window. She has no idea how much time has passed as she shakes the happy place in her mind away and the view outside gives no indication except that it is still light out, so it has to at least still be early afternoon. So, she sips on the coffee she forgot she was holding and although it is barely warm it brings a smile to her face, and she decides to go for walk. Not being able to work has found her in some pretty dark places especially since this winter has seemed colder and to drag on for an excessive amount of time. That is probably because she has not been able to do much, the pain that has consumed for years has finally taken its toll and even the simplest tasks have become excruciating. Walking helps her keep active and is a great way to experience nature and think about other ways to pass the time and stay as healthy as possible.

Walking through the trees, that when it is nice out are thick and luscious covered in greenery and filled with singing birds, she catches a chill from a sudden gust of wind. As she shudders and pulls her jacket tight, she looks around and realizes she has stopped in a small clearing that she normally breezes through and doesn’t pay any attention to. Continuing to look around she sees a path that would take her a new direction that she has never went before. Having only lived on the property for a couple months, the move and unpacking had taken most of her time until now, so the walks had been purposeful and quick to go over the hill to a small store that thankfully carried all the basic necessities. Until a better income could be established, not having to drive much and having everything needed close and not costing a fortune was already helping to relieve some stress. The walk was short enough that she could carry groceries back and long enough that it felt like it was making a difference in her efforts to stay fit. After pondering for a minute if she should walk this path, she decided now was not the right time to check it out. Not wearing the proper clothes if it got much colder, and remembering she needed to run to store she started to move again in that direction smiling to herself wondering who was going to be working there today, if it would be old man Bob, he was always smiling and telling stories. She believed him to be quite the looker in his day as his tales always consisted of the local girls who all fancied him. Or would it be Betty, she was a younger girl probably about 30, unusual to carry the name Betty these days but she is always nice to talk to although she seemed to have a sad far away look that never left her eyes. You have to wonder how someone so young could wear such an old look. There were a couple other employees but so far, they had only been working a couple times she had been there and didn’t seem to pay her any attention aside from the polite greetings. Bob and Betty however called her by name, and today was no different with Betty behind the counter smiling from ear to ear as she walked through the door.” Hello Sylvia, she bellows, how are you today?” “Fine Betty thanks for asking! How about yourself? You look wonderful today!” Sylvia answers in return. “I am doing very well and thank you so much, my boyfriend got me this the other day, said he felt it would suit me and I have to say I absolutely love it!” Before they could continue another person steps into the store and Betty turns her attention to them, she called him by his name, Jeff she thought she heard her call him from across the store but not overly concerned she walked to the toilet paper she was glad she remembered she needed and made her way up to pay.

As Sylvia walked home, she paused at the clearing once more to see if she could tell how far it might go, and what she might find at the end of it. There was an old photo of the property on the wall, she had tucked away, surely it would show her what she might find and what she should wear and possibly bring to do some exploring of it. With another gust of wind giving the feeling it was going to get dark really quick, the chill went deeper and the eerie sensation of nocturnal creatures starting to awaken seemed to carry within it, with it she started to walk quickly to the house. The forest seemed uninviting as the darkness overtook it, the shadows seemed to envelope the beauty and disguise it with an unseen force of evil making sure only the creatures meant to be there were brave enough to stay when all the light was gone. The night creatures seemed louder than anything seen during the day and their noises were far less enticing than the chirping of the birds she was met with when she started her walk. As her house came into view her pace slowed and she once again felt more at ease knowing her warm shelter was a short distance away.

Entering the house, she noticed a light was on she didn’t recall leaving on when she had left. The sun was high and there was no need for a light to be on, could it have been on from the night before she wondered, just unnoticed since although dreary, still bright enough to cover it being forgotten. This made her cautious as she moved to the room with the light on, she let out a gasp as a figure stepped out from behind the door to the room and the groceries fell to the floor. “Oh my god darling I am so sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you, I thought you may have forgotten I was coming since you were not here, but the door was open, so I let myself in!” “Mom! I am so glad it’s you, I did forget all about it, I am glad you found your way in and to your room.” “This place is so beautiful and quaint; it is perfect for you! Are you still loving it? I know you haven’t had much time for much with unpacking and trying to work.” Yes, I do love it, there is so much to explore, and I can not wait till summer to be able to have a small garden and plants!” “That’s wonderful, I will definitely need to come back when it is warmer so we can enjoy some time outside and make the yard all you have always wanted.” “Yes, I am excited as well, in the meantime I discovered a path I haven’t noticed before and think we should go exploring tomorrow. Which reminds me there is an old picture I tucked away in one of these drawers that shows the property, please help me find it and hopefully it will help us plan what to bring on our journey tomorrow.”

After digging through the already cluttered drawers her mom found the picture and although fairly small had a detailed look from above of what the property looked like only five years before. Noticeably the trees were not as established and because it was taken in the summertime it was hard to pinpoint the exact spot she was standing when she seen the path. After pointing out some key points that were the same, she was able to find the spot where the clearing should be and although the path was not shown in the photo, she ran her finger the direction she felt the path should be and where it started but unfortunately the only thing shown was the trees fully in bloom before the picture was cut off. So, we settled on making sure we had a picnic lunch packed with snacks and lots of water, prepared what we could then made some hot chocolate and sat by the fire to catch up. Although she was only gone a few months, so much had happened back home and so she listened to her mom talk long into the night and awakened alone with a blanket laid over her, her mom had gone to her room, the door closed and the soft sound of her snoring escaping under it, so she went to her own room after checking the fire was out and everything else off and curled up in bed anticipating the day with her mom. It was not long before she was snoring herself, although her dreams were restless it was a deep sleep, and she awoke a few hours later feeling great and ready to explore. She realized her mom was still sleeping so she stoked a fire, then put on coffee knowing the aroma would wake her mom so they could get a start on their day. The day was looking like it was going to be decently nice, the sun was peaking through the clouds giving the illusion of warmth, but it was still early so it was actually very cold still. The radio gave more hope for a warm day putting the daytime high in the mid 30’s so could even see the snow start to melt a little. She packed extra socks, gloves and sweater into a backpack for both her and her mom, as she was just making sure the last of what they needed was packed her mom came out of her room looking well rested with one thing in mind. “That coffee smells delicious, where are the cups?” She joined her and they went to the kitchen and made up their cups and sat and laughed over more of the recent events she had missed since the move. Her sister Leah had met a guy, fell in love, and a week later they were running away to Vegas, when she got back from Vegas, she was still in love but with a different guy than she left with. Same old shenanigans, hopefully soon she would find the right path for her and settle down some. Her sister was a couple years younger than her but always tried to be older and act older, instead showing just how young she is. So far, she had not got into too much trouble but if she didn’t start making a better path for herself it was hard to say how much longer that would last. Leah and Sylvia loved each other but it had been a long time since they had shared the friendship they had when they were young, Since Leah had turned eighteen, she felt that she was still treated like a child and that it was Sylvia’s fault, so she turned to her friends and finding the next party which took her away from her family as they lived very different lives. Sylvia is driven for success; she has dreamt of being a writer and explorer since she was a young child, and her new place was the biggest step she had taken to reaching her goals. By moving away from the city and everyday life that kept her occupied and busy beyond belief, she felt she would be able to take the final steps towards finishing her first complete novel. Being in such a beautiful area meant that even though she may have to stay close to home until she got paid from her book or found a part time job that she could handle, at least the beauty surrounding her could keep her mind at ease and she was still in a new place with many things close by that her time could still be spent exploring and writing until the day comes she gets to hop on a plane and go to the first major destination on her list. Since her goal is to bring attention to places less known and help to bring in tourists and income to them, Iceland has long been on her mind with its so-called fountain of youth and untouched lands filled with so much unexplored terrain she couldn’t imagine a better place to start her career, especially since her family had ties there and she was told family still lived out there.

The sun was finally above the tree line and clouds were parted enough that you were able to feel the heat long missed over these winter months, so they finished putting their stuff together and made their way out to the clearing. The glittering frost on the leaves made sunglasses a must as it almost made it impossible to see the path into the trees. Although Sylvia was sure the path had not been used much in the last few years, it seemed to carry the remanence of many footsteps of years past. The feeling of children frolicking back and forth as their parents laughed and joked lingering behind enjoying the smells and lovingly watching their children play, were like ghosts all around us, as though we were watching a home-made movie of prior years. The good feelings as we walked told us we were sure to find something wonderful at the end of the path, that something that used to be utilized so often must bear an amazing treasure. All along the path there were wooden plaques, worn from time in the elements, but still able to see the words most likely painted by the first children to find their way here. Arrows pointing the way they were walking, beware signs placed as though to keep strangers from going to far, although giving off a sarcastic feeling knowing that there was no danger but fun at the end of this path. Boats painted the same as you would see leading up to a boat launch, this path was far to narrow to have anything more than a blow up dingy or kayak carried down it, and finally a Keep Out sign on a tree that almost seemed to be older than all the others, thicker trunk and worn bark said this tree had seen a hundred years or more, it towered well above the already established forest that covered the majority of the area and the feeling of it being the keeper of all it could see was almost unmistakable like you had just met the leader of a country. Sylvia’s mom stepped past the tree first, the path continued beyond it, but the Sign told them that this was a spot they should stop, if only for a peek, or to have a quick snack as they had been walking for at least an hour. They probably could do the walk in much less time but because they didn’t want to miss anything they took their time and enjoyed the walk.

It was hard to tell which way to go once they went around the tree, there were a few spots that looked as though they had been well walked and maintained, and they all seemed to head a similar direction. They discussed which one to take and decided to take the most central one to the tree, in the likelihood they could get lost they marked it with a ribbon and started on their way. They stopped to mark a spot with a ribbon every five minutes and to their delight after only fifteen minutes they found the edge of the forest and stepped out into a beautiful snow covered plain. At first it looked like this was not the spot they were looking for but as their eyes adjusted to the reflection of the untouched snow, they realized that only a few feet in front of them the snow seemed to look different. There was a drop and then it looked like for at least a foot that there was no snow at all. They could not determine what it might be so cautiously they set what they were carrying down grabbed a couple of sticks from the edge of the forest walked to the spot the snow looked different. As they got to it and could see out past what was the ledge, the frozen land revealed a large pond that in its frozen state did not give away whether it was there naturally or if it was built by previous owners to give their children a place to swim in the summer and skate in the winter but the size and location said that it was there by the grace of the earth and stumbled upon by some lucky children trying to find things to do living in an area that had no one around for miles. Sylvia was taken back by how lovely the pond was, even frozen it gave off such a wonderful feeling of freedom and joy that all she could do was imagine giving the ice a proper clean and digging through boxes to find her skates she hadn’t put on in a few years now. The ability to write so many things about one space flooded her mind and having a place to write that is so secluded and once it warmed up would have animals and birds, bugs and so many other things so watch and ponder to include in her writing she was so happy in that moment she almost forgot she was not alone. Her mom seemed lost in thought as well, smiling peacefully to herself and staring across the pond with a wonder in her eyes that Sylvia had not seen in years. Tears filled her moms’ eyes as she started to tell a story Sylvia had never been told before.

When I was a young girl, we had a pond just like this on our property. Every day me, my sister and brother would get done our chores as fast as we could, do our homework and then rush out to swim in the pond until it was so dark, we could barely find our way back. Our parents would call us home for dinner and a bath and we would show up covered in mud and sand and soaked clothes. We could never get enough of the pond, and we were heart broken the day your grandparents told us we had to move. We never were told why we had to move, and I think we all hated them for a time after we left. None of us spoke to them from the time we started packing until the day we got into our new home. When we realized that they had moved us to another beautiful property, an outdoor pool in our backyard and a lake only a few miles up the road we decided that we could not be upset over the pond anymore and were grateful that our parents considered our passion when making a move that they were forced to make so dad could continue to work and support our family. Looking out over this pond brought me back to our last day at the pond, that felt like the last time we were ever that close to each other. Growing up soon took over and the age differences started to take us all to different groups of friends and even with a pool and lake we never connected the way we used to at the pond. “Oh, honey please say you would not be against me bringing your aunt and uncle here.” “Of course, not mom, that sounds like a wonderful idea! I will call Leah and dad and you call Sandy and Murray, lets see if we can get them all out here for a weekend after the snow has gone and the area has bloomed.” “That sounds perfect, then we can swim and have a picnic, share more stories of all the times we shared at our pond.” “I am sad grandma and grandpa are not around to see this and to be with us. I bet they would have so many stories not remembered by the three of you and they always seemed to have a different perception of times shared together. Where you all recall it being filled with fights and arguing they always reminded you of the love and picking each other up when you fell.” “Yes, I miss my parents very much, I think they will be here to see even though it is not in physical form.” They decided to eat their sandwiches and have their picnic talking about some of the times shared at their favorite spots and then as the sun started to fall behind the trees, they took a long lingering look over the pond that even in its frozen state, had warmed their hearts and brought back memories long put aside in their busy lives. The walk back was taken much quicker than the walk there. The air carrying the brisk chill that seemed to bite the skin as the sun disappeared out of sight and the now dark path made them both move faster and they were relieved to once again have the house in sight, looking forward to warming up with hot chocolate in front of the fire and making a date for getting the family together at the pond.

3 Months Later

As the family gathered around the pond, they set up tents and fold out tables and chairs. They had tons of food in coolers, and everyone seemed to look happy as they set up to spend the weekend together. Some of them had not seen each other in years and it felt as though it had only been hours. The memories came flooding back, the laughter rang through the air. She never could have imagined that the frozen pond she had found with her mom would bring their family so close after so much time. When the quiet hit she was off to the side behind one of the tents, the roaring laughter and hum of conversation trailed off and there seemed to be an odd feeling all of a sudden. She came out from around the tent to find out why everyone had stopped talking. Everyone was looking for the same direction, so she followed their gaze and there coming up over the hill was her sister. Sylvia couldn’t keep the tears from her eyes, her sister had given many excuses to not be there, and she was the last person she expected to come up over the pond. She looked skinny but healthier than last time she had seen her, and Sylvia knew just from the brightness in her eyes and the confidence in her walk that she was sober. They ran to each other and hugged, Sylvia jokingly asked about her trip to Vegas and Leah told her that was what woke her up and made her make the changes that she was so excited to share with her family. Sylvia knew that not only would her next stories be written successfully here but the next chapter in their family’s future and the next chapters in her and her sisters’ lives would be completely different all because of the once frozen pond.

Short Story

Lora Danielson

I am an avid traveller looking to become a successful writer travel.

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Lora Danielson
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