A short story by
Tony Boswell © 2003

The lake sits back in the woods. It's not really a lake, only a pond which I have elevated to the status of lake. Surrounded by trees, it opens on one end to a flat grassy area. This is where I come to sit when I've had it. Had it with everything and just don't care anymore. That's really a lie too. I do care. I care too much. That's why it all comes crashing down and I have to get away to this place.

Here, I feel totally alone and satisfied to brood at my own pace. I pretend that I'm the only one who knows this place exists but the empty Budweiser bottles over there also call me a liar.

It takes a truly idyllic setting to really bring home depression. Usually I sit here until it starts to get dark and then I go somewhere and get drunk. As I lay here, something in the woods catches my eye.

It is not so much a glint of light as it is a difference in the shadows. At first, thinking someone is there, I move to leave. Being here with someone else would ruin it for good. As I am walking away I look back but I don't see or hear anything. Okay, I'll take a chance.

"Is anyone there?"

No. I walk back in a slightly round about way.

No one.
Something though.

It's hard to describe. I'll call it… silver. It's silver like you know a mirror is, even though you never see the silver, only the reflection. This doesn't reflect though. It's about 4 feet wide and 7 feet high and not thick at all. I mean zero thick. You almost can't even see it from the side. It's a flat sort of silver wall, the same on both sides. It doesn't seem hot or cold, light or dark. It definitely doesn't seem right.

I am afraid to touch it. I should go get someone. I don't know who. I don't leave. Instead, I pick up a pebble. Afraid that it's going to shatter, I step back and toss the pebble. It bounces off silently and with no effect on the thing.

I pick up a larger stone, the size of a golf ball. I toss it. Again it bounces off with no noise. But something doesn't look right. I do this about 5 times, getting closer each time until my face is just inches away. The stone goes in part way before it bounces back. Watching from the edge, no part of the stone shows through the other side and the thing doesn't give or bend or even ripple.

Poking a stick in it gives no resistance, but the stick, this is really hard to describe, but it sort of bends back out. I rotate the stick and the bent back end rotates as well, but in odd way. It's like seeing your own finger broken and in a position you know it should not be in but there it is. Feeling like I may be stirring up a hornet's nest, I keep playing at it and trying to get my mind around it like an optical illusion.


I jump back.

Oh my god.

I realize it and immediately know its true. Beyond any shadow of a doubt I see the truth of it. At the same time, excited and scared to death, I grab a pen from my jacket and scribble on a match book, "Are you..."

My mind racing now, I begin to see the ramifications. I throw the unfinished note at the thing. Of course it bounces back. I don't even bother to pick it up.

Time has passed. I'm sitting crossed legged in front of it. I don't even remember sitting down. I'm staring at the thing in what has to be the ultimate game of "Don't blink". I sit for over an hour trying to out guess the situation.

I have realized that on the other side of this thing is not the other side I can walk around to, but another, other side. A side just like the side I am now staring at. And on that other side is another person who is sitting down staring at his side with a matchbook lying between he and it.

He is also trying to decide what to do, knowing that whatever he decides, I will also decide. Any note he tries to send will be returned unanswered. Any answers he has to give, we both already know.

He can wait for something to happen but his opponent has equal patience. He can rush headlong through this door to arrive on the other side… alone. Alone to find that his doppelganger has also reached the end of his patience.

What would the other side offer him? Would he find himself, a right-handed person from a left-handed world now a left-handed person in a right-handed world? The events of his life which led him to be at this place at this time would still be there. He could step through this door and nothing would have changed, except him, and only he would know it. And me.

And so it turns out, it's not so much a doorway through as it is a revolving door with only one entrance (exit?).

We get up, brush ourselves off, share a cigarette, take a last look and walk away.

As I walk away, knowing with certainty that he is also walking away, I think; To know there is someone else out there who has been through what I've been through, and faces what I face, really… doesn't make me feel that much better.