***(out of 4 stars)
Published in 1944, Ray Bradbury's short story, The Lake, is a story that I read quite often. I've become very fond of this magical writer. Recently, oh the past year, I've really digested Ray Bradbury fiction. There's something about his prose that attracts me more than any other writer. It must be his metaphors, his style and the way he personally lives an enriching life, that really inspires me to keep turning the pages. After all, his life does bleed through the pages.
With each story, Bradbury takes you on different journeys. He can take you to a simple setting such as a lake. He can take you to an entirely different planet. Or, he can take you back through time. Where ever the journey, it's always more pleasant with Ray Bradbury. The story that I wish to talk about now is a very short one. I mentioned it above, The Lake.
Harold is a young boy visiting a lake with his mother. He walks off by himself and finds a place to sit. He begins to reminisce about a time not too long ago. A friend of his, Tally, walked into the lake about a year earlier and never returned. As Harold sits and reflects on the young woman we find out that he is leaving town; heading West. He begins to build "half" of a sand castle, hoping that Tally will come and build the other half. He leaves the lake - wishing, hoping - that his Tally will answer his call.
Years later - and newly married - Harold and his wife Margaret decide to head back East to visit Harold's old town. Once there memories flood Harold. Although he doesn't recognize most of the towns people, he surely feels at home.
Harold and his wife decided to visit the lake, where his young friend drowned so many years before. The day begins to fade away as most of the visitors of the lake retreat to their homes. A life-guard boat pulls into shore. The life guard is carrying something in a sack. Intrigued, Harold approaches the life guard, while Margaret stays behind.
A body of a young girl,(dead ten years)is recovered. The life-guard is astounded that they've even recovered the body. Of all the kids that drown in the lake - 12 to be exact - only one of them never turned up. Harold knows who the young woman is. He knows it with his heart.
Again, he walks off to be solitude with nothing but the sound of the waves crashing upon the shore. He notices footprints coming from the lake, and leading to a half built sand castle, then they disappear back out in the water. He comes to the realization that his friend had finally answered his calling. She built her half of the castle, as he wished her to do.
The Lake is a great little story. I loved every minute reading it and every word that was in those pages. For such a short narrative, Bradbury invites us into the mind of his character, Harold. Harold is grieve stricken with the loss of his dearest Tally. It actually haunts him his entire life. We know that his love for Tally is deep, much deeper than that of Margaret's. I think that this is why he choose to stay out West, rather than move back. The pain must have been too unbearable. A nice little twist at the end brings a paranormal aspect into this heart felt story.
This is another story I'm reading from The October Country collection. A must read for any Bradbury fan!
Side note: I'm not 100% certain, but I do believe that I heard an interview where Ray Bradbury stated that this story was inspired by his own experience with a young girl drowning in a lake.