The water would be icy tonight, after the day’s rain.
As the water lapped at his toes – crept up his ankles, calves, knees, chest – and stung his skin, he almost laughed at his own stupidity. It felt foolish enough to believe what the medium said, and even more foolish to act on her words. But hope and desperation were two sides of the same coin, and there was nothing else left to lose.
It was deep, too deep, but not deep enough. The lady had said it was absolutely crucial that he stood at the deepest inch of the lake.
And what the hell, he thought. Since I’m already here.
Another thunderstorm seemed possible. The sky still took on a bruised shade, though it revealed a faint hint of the moon.
Keep her name in your heart, the medium had instructed. If the bond you share with her is strong enough, she will come.
Of course, it was the sort of thing a medium would say. That way, you couldn’t blame her if this didn’t work.
But he held her name close to his heart anyway, felt the cadence fall in tandem with his heartbeat, until it became nothing less than breathing, a habit, then a need.
Under the faint moonlight the stone glittered, unnaturally bright, in his palm. Onyx, a love stone for the reunion of couples. The medium had definitely done her homework, at the very least.
He felt a tug at his feet that grew stronger by the second. Ripples started dancing across the surface. Water rushed towards him, churning, roiling, almost knocking him off his feet. He folded his fingers over the stone and squeezed it tight. Its edges dug into his palm. He could lose his footing, but not the stone. Anything but the stone. It was his only chance.
He did not let go when a particularly strong current swept him off his feet. He did not let go when he gulped down a mouthful of bitter lake water. Not even when he dipped under the surface. Not even when he felt the fire in his lungs, heard the awful cold ringing in his ears despite the underwater turbulence, glimpsed the last of the moonlight as night took over completely.
The next time he saw the sky, it was clear – moonless, cloudless, but strewn with stars, glittering like tearful eyes. There was no ringing in his ears, and the cold had dissipated. He was no longer in the middle of the lake; he was dry.
And there she stood, in the middle of the field before him, like she had never left. She was more beautiful than he remembered, her thick long hair cascading down her shoulders. And her eyes, wide and dark, made up of a million stars, shining like the black onyx still in his palm. He dropped it at last and took a step closer to her. She extended a hand, waiting for him to slip his into hers.
He stared at their intertwined fingers in wonder. To think it had really worked.
Tomorrow, he thought, stroking her hair. Tomorrow he would pay that medium a visit again.