Enters a Place by the Lake
The young man entered a place by the lake. The young man entered the place and said hello. The place was empty. No one replied to his greeting. The young man entered the empty place and he looked around.
The young man entered the empty place and looked around and saw nothing. He saw nothing because the place was empty. He saw walls and a floor and a ceiling but nothing else because the place was empty.
The young man looked for another door. Perhaps a door to another room. But the place was a one-room place, and it had no other door. No other entrances and no other exits except the door that the young man had used to enter the place. The place by the lake. The empty place by the lake.
The young man looked for a source of heat. The young man was cold, and the snow was still falling on the lake. The young man looked for a source of heat, but he found none. He found none, but he found that the place by the lake was warm.
The young man shivered.
The young man remained inside the place by the lake until he had warmed up enough to stop shivering. He wondered where the heat came from.
The young man felt around the place trying to find one spot that was warmer than any other place, but he found no such spot. Whatever the source of the heat, it heated the place uniformly.
The young man looked out the single window that hung on the wall near the single door. The snow still fell heavily on the lake. On the lake and all around the lake. The frozen lake.
The young man looked at his fishing equipment leaning against the window. He wondered if he should bring it in, but he decided he was not prepared to brave the cold just yet. He had only just become warm.
The young man watched the snow fall on the frozen lake, and he began to daydream.
When the young man snapped out of his daydream, he forgot what he had dreamed about.
The young man was suddenly worried that whoever owned the place by the lake would find him there and get him in trouble for being in a place where he did not belong. Even though the place was empty, the young man worried that he did not belong there. He knew he did not belong there, but he hoped whoever owned the place would not mind that he warmed himself there in the warm, empty place.
The young man sat in the corner. He sat in the corner and felt warm.
The young man tried to imagine who might walk in the front door. The only door. The young man assumed a man. Then he wondered what would happen if a woman did. It was possible. He even considered what would happen if a bear entered the door. He assumed the bear could not be the owner, but he did not deny the possibility that a bear could enter the place by the lake looking for a warm place like the young man had found. The young man had dreamed enough about bears. Bears entering places he was in and frightening him. The recurring dream always had a bear, and the young man both hoped and feared that a bear might enter the empty place by the lake.
The young man considered whether a young woman might enter the empty place by the lake. He wondered what he might do if a young woman entered the place while he was still there. He began to hope a young woman would enter the place. He hoped but he did not fear. He did not hope and fear that a young woman would enter the place in the same way he hoped and feared a bear would enter the place. He only hoped a young woman would enter the place. He did not fear.
But a young woman did not enter the place. No young woman entered the empty place by the lake.
And no bear either.
Nor a man, nor a woman.
The young man remained alone.
The young man remained alone in the place by the lake, the frozen, snow-covered lake. The young man remained alone and he thought about many things. He sat in a corner being warm, and he thought about many things. He thought about many things, but he did not come to any conclusions about any of the things he thought about.
The young man became hungry.
The young man thought about what he had to eat, and he remembered he had left his small bag of food outside with his fishing equipment. For a short time, the young man hesitated to go out in the cold to get his food. He was warm and he liked being warm. He even wondered what had made him think about trying to go fishing on a frozen lake. But he soon became hungry enough that he was ready to brave the cold.
So the young man braved the cold and retrieved his small bag of food. He left his fishing equipment outside.
The young man ate his food. He ate his food until he was no longer hungry. Then he ate the rest of his food so he would not become hungry for a long time.
When he had finished his food, he looked through his small bag. He looked through his small bag for anything he might have with him to keep him occupied while he remained in the warm, empty place by the lake.
But he found nothing.
All he had to keep himself occupied was the small bag. So he tried to occupy himself with the small bag.
The young man tried to imagine what would happen if he rubbed his small bag and a magic being appeared. He tried to imagine what would happen if a magic being appeared and granted him three wishes. Granted him any number of wishes. He did not know why it had to be three.
The young man wondered what he would wish for. He thought about all the cautionary tales he had heard about the thought experiment of the three wishes.
The young man thought perhaps it was better to not have any wishes at all. Perhaps he would just tell the magic being that he did not want the wishes. Or perhaps he would ask if he could donate the wishes to someone else who needed them more than he did.
Then the young man thought why not wish for a few reasonable things—things that would not cause the problems that befell the characters in the stories who wished for the wrong things or wished for more wishes.
In the end, the young man wished that he would never meet such a magic being so he would never have to face the dilemma of deciding what to wish for.
And his wish was granted.
The young man rose from the floor of the warm, empty place. He rose from the floor and looked out the window.
The snow had stopped falling. The snow had stopped falling, but the lake was still covered with ice. The lake was covered with ice, and the ice was covered with snow.
The young man wondered why he had come to the lake to fish on the ice but had not brought a tool to cut a hole in the ice. Perhaps he had not wanted to fish on the ice after all. Perhaps he had liked the idea but had no real desire to do it.
The young man took his small bag, his small, empty bag, and he left the warm, empty place by the lake. He left the place, and he took his fishing equipment, and he walked out on the ice. The young man looked for a place where he might sit and fish if he had a tool to cut a hole in the ice. But he did not find such a place. He did not find a place to fish, and he did not have a tool to cut a hole in the ice, so he thought it was just as well he did not find a place.
The young man crossed the lake to the opposite shore from the warm place by the lake, and he left the cold, frozen, snowy lake.
Only after the snow began to fall again and had covered the young man’s tracks did a bear enter the warm, empty place by the lake. The bear entered the warm, empty place by the lake, and it fell asleep, and it dreamed its recurring hopeful and fearful dream that a young man would enter the place and frighten the bear to death.
To read more stories in the series, see the Becomes One Hundred Stories page.