Conner never had control over anything in his life. Will he step forward into the unknown?
| Connor stared down at the cool blue water of the lake. Three times. Three times he had pulled friends out of the deceivingly calm surface. Three times they died before he could reach them. Life just didn’t seem fair. He looked up at the twilight creeping over the sky. It would be dark soon. He needed to get back to the cabin, yet his legs wouldn’t move. It felt like cement was holding them down on the sickly green dock that swayed gently with the waves.
Just one step, he thought to himself, just one step and it’s all over. Connor squeezed his eyes and prepared to take the step. But although he couldn’t step backwards toward the cabin, he couldn’t step forward into the lake either. Darkness fell around him as he contemplated the situation. One step forward or one step backward. The decision was in his hands for once. He hadn’t felt complete ownership over something in his life since childhood. He couldn’t stop his parent’s divorce or his father’s alcohol addiction. Dalton, Cassie and Teagen had all lost their lives while he stood by helplessly and watched.
Instead, he could take a step backwards and return to his life of movie popcorn and new releases. Gina would be there too, but she was little more than a distraction. Connor met her at a party and she had clung to him ever since. She was good in bed and didn’t ask too many questions. But Connor didn’t foresee things getting any better than they already were. Nothing would ever be the way it was.
A sudden splash in the middle of the lake dragged Connor from his thoughts. A group of teenagers he had failed to notice earlier were jumping off the dock anchored there. One of the girls ran and dived. Connor watched as she landed gracefully in the water. But when she didn’t resurface, the other kids started yelling her name.
“Cassie, this isn’t funny!”
“Cassie! I’m coming in after you!” Startled, Connor realized it was his own voice. There was nobody in the middle of the lake. The dock had been taken down after Cassie died.
“Get a grip, Connor,” the boy whispered to himself.
A cool breeze blew across the lake, causing his skin to prickle in defense. Connor rubbed his arms with cold hands, as he continued to stare across the water.
“It’s cold. You should get inside.”
Connor turned his head to the boy standing beside him.
“Dalton?” he gasped, “You’re-”
“-standing right next to you,” Dalton replied, pulling his faded green hoodie tighter around his small frame. “Go back inside, Gina’s waiting for you.”
Connor turned his head the other way to look back at the cabin. Sure enough, one window was lit with the silhouette of a young lady filling it.
“She can wait. So how are you-” Connor looked back to Dalton, but realized he was gone.
“I’m losing my mind,” Connor muttered and turned around. He came face to face with a sandy-haired boy covered in freckles. “Teagen,” he breathed.
Startled, Connor took his final step backward. In the distance, a distinctly feminine scream could be heard. But it too, died, and the dark veil of night covered the deadly calm surface of the lake.