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The Lady of the Lake and Her Oranges

by Andrea Gerada

On Thursdays I visit the haunted lake, where algae grow only in seasons of defeat—when I lost my cat Biscuit, for instance, or the day the storm cast us out from the rest of the world, leaving us in the candlelit dark.

The path to the water is narrow, lit by the dim honey light of an almost-setting sun. Vetiver roots and violet horsewhips scrape my ankles pink. I bare them to the very few strangers I pass on the way; they whisper only of loneliness, obsession.

I was neither, merely curious about a November meadow between the living and those who seem to come from a more preternatural age. When I arrived she had already emerged: bentonite hair curling artfully, her noble features in repose. Most importantly, the palm of her hand held a gift, which I carefully plucked.

On Thursdays, the water descends to uncover its secret Atlantis: the statue of an elfin woman appears like an ornamental lighthouse, benign creature of the lake. The other week

she offered me squelched bergamot, and the week before, patchouli leaves. Soaked.

During my third visit, I made the mistake of inviting a friend, a skeptic with a puckish nose. The surest sign of irreverence. He called out to her as “pantomime mermaid,” apprehensive and fussy. She failed to make an appearance, and I had terrible visions that night which I could never recall. They only flashed in alarming silvers and Neptune blues. I woke with the sudden wisdom that perhaps even gods of the past become angry at being seen nude.

I looked at my new gift. Today, it was bergamot once more. Before taking my leave, I nimbly peel the fruit and leave a bright yellow carpel in her outstretched palm. I want to be remembered for this, somehow. I want her to want my return.

Andrea Gerada is an aspiring writer and creative living in the Philippines. She holds a BA in English Literature, and is particularly interested in works that explore food, nature, and light.


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