Pushaw Lake

Pushaw Lake

Hunter Taylor, Reporter

Angie had always been afraid of water. Ever since her early childhood she has hated large bodies of water. You would think this phobia would be of ice, but it was always the bigger picture. Of course she’d still take showers, but everybody knew not to ask her to come down to Pushaw Lake.

Angela Stewart was born here in Glenburn, Maine, and it doesn’t help that the whole east side of town is parallel to Pushaw Lake. That is where her phobia was born. As a little girl she had no friends up until she met Skylar in the second grade. Their parents were friends and they would always play together on the weekends. During the summer their families would go down to the lake. This terrible event happened a couple years later when she was in fifth grade. Her and Skylar took a sled to the lake, and they would take turns pulling each other across the frozen water. They lived in the part of town called Sandy Beach, which jutted out into the lake in three directions like a crown with three points. Skylar lived more inland, but Angie lived on the middle stretch of land (the second point in the crown if you will). Her house is the only house on this little island of hers, and that is why she loved that lake, which is ironic, because she never knew how afraid she would be of the water surrounding her home on three sides (almost four if you count the side that joins the mainland by a road).

The day was warm, but still a little chilly. Skylar and Angela were bundled up to their chins and were warm, except for the little nip of cool air at their noses and cheeks. It was Angie’s turn to pull the sled. She was running as fast as she could smiling, while Skylar was screaming and laughing in the sled. They were a little far out from the shore. About 15 feet. Angie took a break to catch her breath, and that is when they both heard it. A crack. Then a couple slightly louder cracks. And before Angie knew the ice had cracked, the lake consumed their sled. One of the last things Angie heard from Skylar was a yelp as the sled dropped. Of course at that age you would not know what to do. Maybe if it was a movie Angie would have tried to be a hero and hold on to Skylar’s hand to prevent her from drowning and scream for her parents. But this was real life. Even if Angie would have grabbed her hand Skylar’s winter wear was soaked, it was weighing her down. Angie couldn’t have saved her even if she was brave enough. She did the only thing a scared child could do… scream. Her cry echoed across the lake.

Of course by the time Angela’s father arrived, Skylar was gone. Her father told his wife to call the fire department before he took off towards the lake. It usually takes thirty-four minutes to get from the fire department out to Sandy Beach Shore Road, but they arrived in thirty. But by the time they got there, Skylar was dead, and they had to fish her out of the bottom. When they arrived they found Mr. Stewart holding his wide-eyed daughter close to his chest. She never said this aloud because she was scared silent, but in the consciousness of Angie’s mind, she wanted to get out of there immediately. She looked down and realized that if that kind of thing can happen to my friend, it can happen to anyone… and they are standing right on top of the ice in which her friend just plummeted to her frozen death. She immediately thought if that bad thing can happen on the ice of a lake, how many horrible things can happen beneath it.

Angela Stewart is now thirty-three years old and still scared of that lake. She moved away two years after graduation. She tried to get as far away from her home as possible, and as soon as possible. But unfortunately later last week on December 12, 2017, her mother died. She came back home for the funeral. She was an only child, which meant she was the one to take on the arrangements of the funeral. She was inside dealing with her family. Her cousins, aunts, uncles, and her father. She wanted the funeral to take place at the house, in the Stewart’s living room. She went outside after discussing the program with the preacher. She was pulling out a cigarette and looking out towards the lake. Oh, how she hated the water, but she always seemed to stare at it. It’s like she was expecting a monster to come up out of the lake and devour her. And just then as she was about to light her cigarette, a monster did just that, not literally, instead it devoured Angela’s attention. It was Skylar. She hadn’t aged in twenty-three years. She was still ten years old. She was standing out on the ice, through the clearing in the trees.

And it may have been Angie’s stress over her mother’s death plus the fear of the lake that caused her to get up and walk towards the lake. But it may be the fact that she has never had a friend as good as Skylar. In any case, she got up just the same. She dropped the cigarette into the snow. She was hypnotized by her friend, motioning to her to come closer. As she got closer Skylar started to back up. Every step Angie took, Skylar took. About fifteen feet away from the shore is when Skylar stopped and allowed Angie to decrease the distance between them.

“I’m so sorry Skylar…” Angie said with tears coursing down her cheeks. “I’m so sorry I didn’t save you… I was so scared…”

As she walked up to Skylar, the little girl held out her hand to bring Angie to a halt. Angie’s brow creased, then loosened when she realized where she was standing. Angie turned around and started to run back to shore. Skylar caught the sleeve of Angie’s coat. Angie was stuck. She tried to pull out of the grip, but her hand was like stone.

Angie looked at Skylar wide-eyed. That’s when Skylar said, “You should be scared.”

Skylar looked down and stomped. She looked back up at Angie and smiled. And those sounds the girls heard so many years ago came again. Angie let out a scream that sounded like an almost exact duplicate to the scream she did twenty-three years ago in this same spot. Skylar let go of her sleeve and Angela Stewart plummeted into the water.

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Angie’s father sat up and his tears were choked off by the sound of his daughter’s scream. He was fifty-seven years old but he remembered that scream. He hesitated to get up, but when he did get up he didn’t hesitate. He got to the door as fast as his arthritis-filled knees would allow him. He whipped open the door and looked out onto the lake and saw the two figures on the ice holding hands. They looked up at him and smiled, while both of their free hands pointed to the hole in the ice.