This is a short story I wrote. I am sure there is more to say about this, but for now I will let the story speak for itself.
For thirty years, I had been coming to this same lake. Thirty years of hoping that one day the Lady of the Lake would find me worthy. Worthy to see the blade slice through the waters and gleam in the dawn. Now, after decades of longing, there the sword rose glinting in the sun—like the glow of day: Excalibur. Her lily-white hand held the sword aloft; the blade dripped water like a battle-worn sword drips blood, and it called out to me—a beacon of hope.
I trembled. I was afraid the Lady would withdraw her hand, that I was not the one she waited for. My demons taunted me that I wasn’t worthy. Yet, here she was. Fear-fueled, I plunged from my stead and burst into an unsteady run—running upon both hands and feet, at times, to keep myself from completely falling. I tore my way through the moss-lined knotted foliage sentinels who warded the lake.
Bloody-handed, I dove headlong into the bone-wrenching frigid waters as one last demon branch reached out to stop my life-long pursuit. With a shudder, I sputtered to the surface and then rose from the waters.
My hope was rewarded; Excalibur still held high above the surface of the cold water.
Waiting for me.
The mist hung above the lake and swirled about me as I shuffled, stumbled, fell, rose, shivered, and continued undeterred toward the source of my hopes. I waded at first, but that caused my feet to suck deep into the lake-mire. So, I threw myself entirely in and swam the shallow pool, full-force. Panting and half-blinded with water, I neared the outstretched arm.
I slowed as I came near her. My body pounded, a chill crept through my being, and my fear increased.
I was afraid that my clumsy, ungainly splashing would offend her. I stopped.
I rose to my feet because the lake was not deep. Then, reverently, awkwardly, I slogged toward the Lady. Coming within reach, my breath constricted, my muscles spasmed, and dread began filling my soul. I fell to my knees, with my body bent from exhaustion and reverence. My head and hair touched the water, and I tried to reach out—
My hand flinched, and I recoiled. Thirty years of dreaming, hoping, and wondering! What if I weren’t worthy? Looking at my hands, I made a fist then stretched my fingers to steel myself. I did it again. Then I tightened my hand into one last fist and forced myself to relax. This time, I reached out as I released all my breath—like releasing an arrow.
My soul was like tinder, and I was near the flame.
Still steady, she never flinched. She waited—upright and true.
I hadn’t shown my unworthiness, yet.
She waited, steadily, for me to embolden myself and grasp the hilt; then, she’d let go and return to her hidden domain.
This time as I reached out, I did not pull back, and at the touch, my fingers ignited
—my heart glowed like the sword in the morning light. It became a flame.
I had never cared for the trinket she held. It was only ever her silken skin I had waited all these years—to see, to touch.
After thirty years, I caressed her hand, and water fell from my eyes. Thirty years before, when I was a boy, I had seen her and the old wizard talking in the waning light of day—in one of the few times that she ever showed herself above the lake of shining waters. Her gaze had met mine as I hid in the brush. Her voice traversed the waters into my soul and kindled my heart with longing; her form had captured me, and her eyes brought me to the brink of death and enraptured me.
I was hers, have always been hers.
Thirty years of seeking.
Thirty years of mockery.
Thirty years of working on believing in my worth. Here now, I knelt by the Lady’s side stroking her lovely hand, and she did not withdraw. Fear released. Delight filled my heart. The chill fled from me, and my shudder turned to joy-filled trembling—as I held her hand in mine. She let the trinket fall to the wayside as she wholly gave her hand to me. Then I bent low, kissed her hand, and hunted to meet her eyes for the first time. There within the lake, emblazoned with passion, I saw her eyes like deep pools waiting, longing, to meet mine.
We held each other’s gaze.
After thirty years, I was unwilling to wait another moment; I lean forward and fall all in. Thirty years of longing inundate us, and the flames of desire enshroud us. Our lips meet, and the inferno of hope envelops us. That fiery love churns the lake around us as we embrace thirty years of passion, and then the waters were stilled.
To this day,
the trinket lay
in the quell
where it fell.
©2020 Jay Myers; All Rights Reserved.
No portion of this story may be reproduced, distributed, or revised without express permission of the author.
Here are a few of the attempts I made at capturing this image.