The Pond of Antiques

By Lana Semakova

I was walking through the side trail of the forest, the one that has moss covered rocks and a wall of drowsy willows that touch passerbys’ foreheads. I wanted to see what was in the centre of it all, outside of the clean trail for typical hikes. I switched directions from time to time, going from one point to the other, in an attempt to get lost. The evergreen wall parted slightly to make way for a stage of sand. A bright blue pond stood in its centre. I found it funny how this sight was so well hidden and yet so vulnerable to anyone who took a few wrong turns walking through the forest.

The circle stage was a few metres long and tilted down slightly before reaching the small silky patch of sea. Determined to see it better, I walked towards it quickly and right before I could reach the edge, a big splash erupted from the pond and I fell back, knocking out my breath. A sharp black tail quickly cascaded into the water and its heavy grey shadow regressed into the depths of the pond. From the ground I could see several shadows moving under the blue – they were eels slipping through liquid blankets. I couldn’t tell whether or not they were a part of my imagination. I watched them, silently. 

One thing I was sure I could see; small glimmers scattered within the pond – objects. I had a sudden feeling of nostalgia, as if I had found an explanation for an unsolved question. My silence was interrupted by another splash that sent little waves across the water and with it sent one of the glimmers running towards the sands, towards me, into my hands and towards me as I lifted it up to see it closer. It was a little golden heart shaped case. The carving on its back took me back to a memory covered in sunlight and transparency. I couldn’t remember exactly why. It was as vague as a perfect dream.

 I wondered if the case was missing something that could fit in the metal. Perhaps a piece of it was lost in the pond. I had an instant urge to find it and put them back together in hopes of remembering where I had seen the same glimmer before. Cautiously,  I took off my sweater and dipped my toe into the cold. I waited for another splash. The water was quiet and the air was empty other than the splotches of grey moving much below the surface. I continued lowering myself into the pond until the last thing I had to do was take a deep breath.

I opened my eyes in the strange, blue juice. I swam, pushing it aside with my hands and feet. Then I saw something in the distance, a floating, small, heart shaped mirror that would fit perfectly into the gold case. It was falling deeper into the dark blue, like something from a happy memory falling into oblivion.  I hovered in the water, watching it dance in slow motion. A sharp tail slipped under my feet and I shot myself to the surface. I couldn’t see anything below me, the water was too thick.  Was my imagination at fault? Or would one of the shadows strangle me and push me to the depths of the stage? I felt powerless and tired. But I also knew that I needed to retrieve the mirror. 

Taking another deep breath I lowered myself back into the water and flipped my feet, aiming myself down, past the shadows, and towards the falling, gleaming object. It was in my hand, the sunlit particle I had forgotten about. I was observing it through melancholy and warmth when I felt something  slither languidly against my back. I turned around. It was  faceless, grey, menacing and hypnotic. My fingers felt numb. I didn’t move. It didn’t move either. We faced each other steadily while my need for air loosened and my eyesight blurred and I lost grip on the mirror. Then the eel swam away.

When I was drying myself off on the sand, I watched the shadows. It seemed as though one of them was smaller and more distinct than it did before. A toothless eel. I wondered how it was possible for shadows to live in the same place as my forgotten objects. I looked at my reflection in the heart shaped mirror shining in my hand. When I closed it, I remembered where I had seen its carvings before. The sketches I’ve been making in my journal since I was little have the same curved quality to them and the same twist in their swirls. I placed the mirror in the sand and began sketching it in my notebook.  I didn’t end up taking it with me – it belongs to the pond. But now that I’ve found it, I can visit it anytime I like.  

The Pond of Antiques and its eels are an analogy for the subconscious mind, forgotten memory and trauma. To learn more about this topic, check out these sources: 

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