7th-12th Grade First Place Winner
A Night on the Lake
By David Martinez
The hazy lights of a not-so-distant city bounce off the surface of the water. The humidity hangs in the air, blanketing the shore. The chirping of the crickets is the only noise to pierce the silence. The moon looms over the sky, providing a luminous tint to the lake. The trees sway ever so slightly under the breeze, and the scent of lake water fills the air. A stillness seeps into the air. Time ceases to exist.
Two fishermen occupy this moment. What began as a night full of ambition, and caffeinated beverages, stumbled into a space of true serenity. Fearful of another wasted night, they packed their gear, hopped in the truck and set off for the lake. They had one thing on their mind. Landing monster catfish out of this little, lackluster, barely-a-lake lake. They set up their rods, baited their hooks, selected their spots, and cast their lines with great enthusiasm. After the initial buzz of the night had worn off, they grew frustrated as massive fish had not landed in their hands yet. They were certain that in those conditions, with the bait they had made, they were guaranteed fish. No bites, no fish, and worse, nothing to post on their Instagram pages.
“This was a waste!” thought one of the anglers. As the moon climbed up the night sky, and the stars began to appear it seemed apparent that all of the fish had gone on vacation. Or simply did not exist. Perhaps all of the fish they had seen on social media were doctored, and fish were simply a hoax. As the possession of the humid air slipped from one late night to the next early morning, our young late night adventurers were struck with a realization.
This was the most peace either of them had felt in weeks, maybe even months. The chaotic cyclical process of life had worn down, and desensitized them. Never getting a chance to breathe between exams, games, projects, and jobs had lulled them into a state of mental frenzy that they had accepted as the natural state of living.
This space of pure tranquility had lifted that. All the stress, anxiety and tension flowed out of their bodies and into the morning air. Their hooks sat in the water, untouched by any fish, much less record breaking lake beasts, but that didn’t matter. The crisp morning air, and the air inside their lungs became the same.
As they packed their headlamps, snacks, and gathered any trash they left behind. They took one last look out onto the water. While the lingering hope of an earth shattering catfish leaping out of the water into the back of their pick up making them world famous anglers stayed in the back of their minds, they got in the truck and drove home with a new appreciation for a night fishing trip.