The Lake-Chapter 3

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“Well, what do you want to do now?”  Lily asked Lilith as the two girls sat side-by-side on the stone bench, staring out across the lake.  The girls had been together continuously over the course of the last four weeks, and had spent time doing everything from exploring the surrounding area to building their own secret fort near the lake.  Every afternoon after she was done with her chores, Lily would rush down to the lake to meet Lilith and the two girls would run off to play for the day. 

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“I wish we could go swimming,” Lily sighed wistfully as she gazed out at the rippling water.  A slight breeze blew across the lake and ruffled her hair.  The weather had been continually heating up over the course of the last several weeks and Lily could feel sweat rivulets running down her neck under her shirt.  Lilith, looking as cool as ever in the striped jumped that she seemed to favor, shrugged and turned her lavender eyes upon her.  “Well, why don?t we?” she asked simply. 

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Lily turned toward her and swallowed.  She was embarrassed to admit that she didn’t know how to swim.  She finally admitted, “I haven’t had lessons yet.  I’m actually not supposed to be down here.  My parents wouldn’t be happy to know that I’ve been playing down here for the last few weeks.”

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Lilith smiled.  “I can teach you,” she suggested and turned back to stare out over the lake.  “I’m a good swimmer.  My Aunt Betsy taught my sister and I to swim one summer.  If you’re brave, I can teach you too.”

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Lily glanced quickly at her friend out of the corner of her eye to see if she was teasing her.  Lilith’s face was straight, however, and she didn’t look like she was kidding.  Lily considered the proposition for a few minutes without saying anything and then nodded hesitantly.  “Sure, I guess.  If you think you can,” she answered.  “Is it hard?”

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Lilith shook her head and then turned away from the lake.  “No, it isn’t hard.  We can start tomorrow, if you like.”  Lily nodded eagerly, the idea growing on her.  Wow!  She was going to learn how to swim!  She could easily imagine spending the rest of her summer swimming in the lake with her best friend.

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Lilith was good to her word and began teaching Lily how to swim the next day.  The next few weeks flew by as Lilith worked patiently with Lily everyday, trying to help her learn.  Lily was a good student and paid close attention to all of Lilith’s instructions, trying to emulate her friend as closely as possible when she was shown the different strokes and breathing patterns.  By the end of the two weeks, Lily was swimming confidently on her own and had become very comfortable in the lake.

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One day, two and a half months into the summer, Lily and Lilith were drying off on the grassy bank of the lake, staring lazily at the dragonflies nearby as they danced in and out of the reeds.  Lily could feel the sun warming her shoulders as she picked absently at the long blades of grass in front of her.  She had something to tell Lilith, something her parents had just told her yesterday, but she was having a difficult time finding a good way to bring it up to her friend.  She watched Lilith sitting quietly beside her, staring absently out over the peaceful lake, her pale skin that never seemed to tan, almost seemed to shimmer in the hot summer air.  She sighed.

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She and Lilith had become such good friends over the course of the last two months.  She knew this day would come, the day when she would have to tell Lilith that she was moving, but the day had come more quickly than she had anticipated.  Mrs. Winston was scheduled to come back two weeks early from her summer vacation than originally planned and her parents had already made arrangements to move into their new house in the city.  She couldn’t imagine not getting to see Lilith everyday, as she had become accustomed to over the past two months.  She swallowed the lump that was forming in her throat and made a futile attempt to clear it.

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Lilith turned toward Lily and stared at her for a few seconds.  “You’ve been kind of quiet today,” Lilith stated matter-of-factly.  “Are you OK?”  Lily thought about lying for a minute, but decided that that was probably about as good of an opening as she was going to get.  She shook her head and tried to clear the lump out of her throat again.

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“My mom and dad told me that we are going to be moving to our house in the city this weekend,” she blurted out.  She could feel tears coming to her eyes and she turned her face away from Lilith to hide them.  She sniffed softly and hurried on.  “We weren’t supposed to go for another two weeks, but Mrs. Winston is coming back and my parents have already gotten the key to our new house so we have to go.  I’I don’t know if I will ever be able to come back to visit.  The house is in the city.”  She finished, staring down at the severed blade of grass twirling in between her fingers, not meeting her friend’s gaze.

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“Oh,” Lily said simply.  The word was empty and hollow.  Lily raised her eyes quickly to read the expression on Lilith’s face.  She couldn’t tell if her friend was angry or sad at the news.  Lilith’s pale purple eyes flickered from Lily back to the lake and Lily was unable to read the expression in them.  Lilith sat as still as a stone statue staring out over the lake without blinking.

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“I was going to tell you earlier today, but I just couldn’t,” Lily stammered.  “I don’t want to go, Lily.  Just like I didn’t want to move out here at the beginning of summer.”  Lilith didn’t say anything, but her back stiffened slightly.  “Not that I’m not glad that we moved out here, of course,” Lily amended quickly.  She was trying to make things better, but it seemed like she was just making them worse.  “You’re the best friend that I’ve ever had, even in California.  Maybe we can still write each other…be pen pals, you know?” she offered weakly. 

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Lilith just sat silently staring out across the lake.  Just when Lily was beginning to wonder if Lilith had even heard her, Lilith shifted abruptly and stood up in one fluid motion.  She turned and stared down at Lily with an unreadable expression on her face.  “I have to go,” she said as she turned away from Lily and began to walk along the bank of the lake.  She stopped after several steps and, inclining her head in Lily’s direction, said over her shoulder, “Let’s go swimming one last time, shall we?  Can you meet me Saturday morning before you leave for one last swim?”

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Lily frowned slightly, but happy that her friend was no longer angry with her, she nodded once in acquiescence and said, “Sure.  My parent’s shouldn’t mind.  I’ll meet you here Saturday morning, Lily.”  Lilith turned and continued on her way around the lake as Lily stared quietly at her friend’s back, wondering why life had to be so complicated.

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