3. inside and outside
The next time I went to the trailer there was someone standing at the fence. I saw them as I was opening the door. I unlocked the door and when I turned back to waive, they were gone.
I can’t remember anything about them. Can’t remember what they looked like, length of hair, anything. They were just there, a being standing at the fence, and then they were gone.
In town, I had made friends with one of my neighbors. She was about the same age as I was, I guessed, and worked remotely for a medical company. Her brother lived with her, too, though I didn’t see much of him. Ime had moved from the city a few years earlier. She had grown up there, her parents having immigrated there from Nigeria. Ime was kind and we talked often when we were outside. She brought cookies over whenever she baked. I felt that she had a more difficult life than she let on, but I was not sure what it could be.
Ime told me about Quiet Lake one day after I told her about the trailer. She said she loved folklore and that she had learned that the lake used to be called Lake Manitou until it was changed by the Reed Family that had built a large vacation home on the lake.
Ime said that the lake had originally been built by the government in the early 1800’s as a part of the treaty with the Potawatomi tribe in order to build them a mill on their land. They named the lake Manitou after the “great spirit” one historian said, but none of the tribe would go to the lake because the colonists had mistranslated their language. The Potawatami had told the colonists that they had seen a great monster in the lake. They called it Devil’s Lake in their language.
Ime said that lots of things had multiple names here. I thought it was a funny comment and didn’t think much of it but I started to notice that the roads change names frequently in Milford at odd intervals.
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I thought about that lake monster the next time I went out to the trailer, though. I hadn’t expected to see the person standing at the fence.
I knew the Reed House that Ime referred to, a big vacation house across the lake from my grandparent’s farm. I didn’t know anyone else around the Lake. It was, as the name suggested, a quiet lake. There were a few folks fishing to the West of the trailer and the figure that had appeared at the fence to the east, but it was otherwise empty.
After I saw the person at the fence, the trailer provided some comfort. I had been spooked and sought shelter in the trailer. My hands were still shaking when I took one of the books off the shelf. It had a faux marbled cover and plain end papers, but the collophone had been torn out. The first page remaining in the book was the preface.
I glanced at it, flipped through some of the pages, and photographed them with my phone. I was particularly interested in one of the pages, which I now know to be a SATOR square. I placed the book back, though, because I still wasn’t comfortable taking anything out of the trailer. I felt like it would upset the order of things.
I didn’t see anyone at the lake again for a long time after that first sighting, but I felt differently about being there. Whatever nostalgia I had for the place had been mixed with disquiet, the feeling like there was someone watching somewhere around the lake.