Excerpt from “The Lake Experience” by Laura Lynes

Laura Lynes’ short story from SAND 24 transports us to a near future in which two workers at a lake resort attempt to provide guests with “the sublime experience of feeling small and alone inside Nature” despite the obvious effects of climate change on the lake experience. The two lovers escape into humor and fantasies of freedom to enjoy what might be the last days of their love. The first page of “The Lake Experience” is excerpted below.

Image of excerpt from fiction in SAND 24. Image text: The Lake Experience By Laura Lynes Above the lake, the sky is a pleasure dome of pink fading into baby blue, and several of our latest hotel guests have begun the long, shallow walk into the lake’s centre—keen, I know, for the full immersive experience. It is another hot day. The willow trees are vibrating around the rim, and the water, milky as always from the lake’s mineral base, is static. Except for the guests, only a small, attendant drone is moving. As for me I am on standby in my paddle boat, although I, too, am all eyes. I watch as a woman with a bright blonde bob lowers herself onto all fours in front of me. It is as if she already knows that the lake stays shallow right through, and yet she’s in pursuit of something still, pulling her thin body through the water now in a steadfast, forwardly writhing motion. When at one point she looks up at the sky, I do too. The pink is turning red and the whole display is deepening. If our guests enjoy the effects, they might emerge from the lake in a good mood. This thought begins my fantasy: The guests return to the hotel with a spring in their step. Gia is at the desk as usual and the guests grin widely at her and exclaim What a day! or To be alive! while lifting dripping arms into the air or slapping the desk. At this, Gia is moved to smile with all the teeth in her head, and then she blinks and the guests are gone, tucked away in the creamy folds of their rooms and 100% satisfied all round. I play this out as the guests push on with their lake-walk. The heat is beginning to throb and the skin of my legs has stuck to the polyethylene of my seat, making me unstick and re-stick myself onto a different patch. I notice that others, now, are dropping into a crawling swim and the general momentum of the group is picking up. I close my eyes to resume the fantasy. With the guests tucked away indefinitely, the drone falls out of the sky with a cartoon whoosh! followed by a wallop! when it hits the water. And so Gia and I have full access to the lake. In the beginning we laugh and laugh because we’re in love, and because the warm mineral sludge is Luxury we haven’t experienced. But then we laugh because we notice that laughing loosens up our parts. Our laughing becomes harder, insistent, undoing first our collar bones, and then the sterna between our breasts, until finally there is a full shattering and we are free.

Laura Lynes is a British-Hungarian writer, currently undertaking an MSt in Creative Writing at the University of Oxford. Her writing can be found in publications including Lighthouse Journal, erotoplasty, and Litro Magazine.

This excerpt from SAND 24, designed by Déborah-Loïs Séry, appears as it does in the print journal. To read more, buy a copy or subscribe at our webshop.