The lake sparkled. Puffs of cloud travelled on its surface. The mountains were wrapped in haze, as if wishing to hide from view.
I walked on the pier listening to the water swishing through reeds and lapping to the shore. I thought a big branch floated ahead. Shocked, I realized it was Johannes, our local war hero gone missing.
He was still dressed in black, as always since he returned from the war. Facing down as if obsessed with the bottom of the lake, he rose and fell with the water. He’d been my hero too, though whatever else transpired between us in the past was no longer there.
He had come back another man, spending his time by the lake fending off imaginary enemies. Youths teased him and asked him about the war. But he never answered them.
The mountains across the lake now looked as if sitting in judgment. I found a piece of wood and, leaning over, tried to pull him towards me. A water snake slithering away frightened me and I swayed to avoid falling in. I stood there feeling guilty, as if I had violated him with my branch.
Once the water settled, I saw he was now turned sideways, the way he shyly used to turn whenever I tried to catch his eye, before he went away. At that moment, I saw shades of dark red, and dusky purple on his face, and I thought, I must confess, that these colors suited him.