The author walked down from the house, past the gazebo, around the wrought iron patio furniture whose paint was flaking and feet were rusting, and on toward the dock. The dock was only visible from the house in winter, and now it was summer and everything was green, the path overgrown, because he'd come back well before he'd intended and the gardeners had not been to cut things back and trim them into shape.
The house itself had once belonged to a doctor from Savannah who would spend his summers on the lake. The author wondered what the doctor's patients did while the doctor was away all summer. Just not get sick?
That doctor, who'd lived in what they called the Victorian era, even though America had no queen, had had a family: a wife, three daughters, and one son. And he'd had a housekeeper, and a cook, and a nanny for the children. The house reflected all these things. It was Victorian and very large, with a second staircase for the servants and a whole wing at the back in which to hide them. And there was a carriage house, too, that had since been converted to a garage.
In all it was a nice place to live and a quiet place to work, though it was too quiet and too big for him to wander late at night when he couldn't sleep (which was often). And these days he didn't work so much, either. He had ideas, plenty of them, but the effort of sitting down and making them concrete—turning them into written words—had somehow come to be beyond his abilities.
It was a strange thing because he'd never thought words were something one could lose, or that molding them into sentences and paragraphs and whole books would be something he'd forget how to do. It was an art. He fashioned words the way someone had fashioned that patio furniture, and words were better because they couldn't rust (could they? he wondered), but how was it he'd lost the knack of wordsmithing? Was it possible to wake up one morning and simply not be able to do it any more?
The ground began to slope down toward the edge of the lake. The dock was in sight now, the dirt path bald where it had been walked so frequently the hairy grass had worn away and would no longer grow there. The author concentrated on not tripping and falling, lest he roll into the water and no one find him for weeks. His assistant wasn't due in for two, but the author had hoped returning to the house early might jump start his creative juices. The house hadn't helped, the gazebo hadn't helped, the patio hadn't helped, and so now he would try the dock. Barring that, he would hike into the woods and camp like Thoreau if that was what it took.
But no, he wouldn't. He hated camping.
Liked campfires. Disliked sleeping outside.
The author made it safely to the dock and walked the hot, dry length of it to sit at the very end. The lake was low; he could not touch the water with his feet. He even stretched a bit, just to see.
Which is why he was very surprised when the water reached up to touch his toe.
A fish? It had to have been a fish.
The author leaned forward to peer into the clear, cool depths. Far below lay the brown, sandy bottom, green fronds lazily swaying. And yet he saw no fish.
And so when a fist of water reached up and grabbed his shirt, pulled him in, he supposed he wasn't so surprised after all.
Well, the author thought as he went under, at least this gave him something to write about.