The Pond
By: Dawn DeBraal

Nigel Fenway would scour the earth to find her. The woman who got away. He was so close, so close to having her under his spell. He was a fool to look the other way. She had bewitched him. Made him think that he had control over her. She was cunning and smart, that woman. He was just now beginning to realize how smart she was. He had been duped, and he wanted revenge.

He entered his home on Oxford Street. There was only one house on this dead–end road. The city had planned the street to continue but hit a spring during the excavation. Water came out of the ground like the fountain of youth. It filled a good–sized pond. The land was too wet to build on. The developer looked for other buildable properties.

The pond enhanced Nigel's property. The water never froze. Not even in the wintertime. The spring kept water running year–round. It was a danger to the local children. The ice on the pond was thin. He put up signs every year; there was always one who didn't listen. As the ice formed, Nigel would put a sign in front of the pond. "Danger Thin Ice!" Of course, the kids would goad one another to walk out further. The pond was supposed to be shallow, they said. Idiots. They'd inch out until the ice sagged, taking on water and race to the edge. He didn't care, let them drown themselves. They were a nuisance — survival of the fittest and all that.

The authorities knocked on his door. He answered quickly, afraid they had found the woman who had escaped from him, but they hadn't. Instead, they asked if he had seen the boy. He had, but lied about it.

"You're free to look." He said, waving his hand toward the pond, and the obvious hole in the ice. Maybe they could still revive the boy. He had heard stories where small children under for thirty minutes in frozen water, were able to be brought back to life. But why bother? The boy was addle–headed, why else had he walked past the sign and tried to navigate the pond? Perhaps he was too young to read?

Oh well, Nigel closed the door while the neighborhood parents walked the pond. He heard the scream and watched as they took ladders and hooks, trying to fish the boy out of the cold spring water. They got him pretty quick too. He was apprehensive they might find the others, the women who'd also found their way to the bottom of the pond.

They pulled the boy out, and immediately someone started slapping his still, frozen little body. Nigel felt it was best to leave them be when they were that far gone, but no one ever listened to his point of view. The ambulance drawn by horses hauled the boy away. He wasn't the first boy lost in the pond, and he wouldn't be the last. Why didn't they stay away from the pond?

After the fuss died down, Nigel walked back out to the carriage house, spying her tracks in the snow. The woman never left the garage. She had only pretended to go. He fisted his hair in frustration. He could see her footprints leaving the building. What a fool he had been. He'd left the door unlocked, thinking she was gone already. He thought she had found a way to escape. He had played into her hand. The snow on the ground showed where she was.

She was barefoot. She can't have gone very far. Nigel worried about the people that had come to pull the boy out of the pond. Had they found her? Or had she used this time and confusion to escape, knowing he would be watching the activity? He pulled his coat tighter around himself. That confounded woman would pay for her impertinence.

It was cold, the wind whipped around, daylight was almost spent. Nigel pulled his cap from his coat. He followed the footprints to a tree in the back yard. Was she still here? Still on his property? He might have another chance to get this right. His heart pounded in excitement. He wouldn't turn his eye from her, not for a second. She would pay for making him look a fool. He crept up to the tree.

"Rose," he sang. He could hear her exhale in panic. A sinister laugh left him. He could picture the naked woman cringing on the other side of the tree. Rose, his rose. He leaped to the other side. There she was. Scratching his face, tearing his flesh in the fight mode. He grabbed both of her hands

"You are going to be sorry for that, Rose. You have thorns, and I will cut those off.". He hated taking the chance of dragging her across his lawn, back to the carriage house, back to the closet she lived in, but it was dusk now.

He wondered how she had faked her escape from the little room. He was fortunate to be able to catch her so quickly. Dragging her by her arms, she screamed and kicked at the snow. Nigel didn't care. There wasn't anyone around to hear her.

He bent over to pick her up, she sprinted away from him, headed for the pond. The wench wasn't so smart. There was no way but across the pond to getaway. Nigel ran after her. She kept going, running past the sign of warning.

Perhaps it was better if she ended this way, he would never be able to trust her. She was running full speed, and she was getting away. Nigel was unnerved when he could make–out she was getting close to the other side of the pond. He took off after her, heedless of the ice that cracked beneath his feet. He was getting closer to her.

Nigel could hear the moan that came from her lips. This sound was exciting to him. He came closer when the ice gave way, plunging him into the pond.

The cold water took his breath away. He tried to surface but couldn't find the hole he'd come through. Water filled his boots, saturated his clothing taking on weight as he tried to push himself off the bottom. He needed to break the surface or find the hole he'd gone through.

Nigel was running out of air. It was dark. Daylight no longer penetrated the ice. His lungs burned. Nigel found the hole. His arms reached out of the hole; he could hear her screaming, paralyzed with fear. Nigel tried to pull himself up. Every time he found purchase, the ice broke, plunging him back into the water. He found himself calling her to help him. The frightened look she had earlier turned into one of wickedness. She was no longer a victim. She was a spectator to his death.

The wench. Nigel's hands could no longer grip the edge, frozen in spasms. He felt himself slipping back into the water. She was no longer there when he came up for the last time — beaten by a woman. How could that be? He sank a final time, his lungs heaving in the cold water that took him to the bottom of the pond, where he settled in with all the others.



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