I skate on a black lake, the ice clear as glass. No matter what moves I make, the blades never carve any shapes, just a tiny wake that freezes clear as soon as I’m past. At any time, I can look down and see the darkness, the occasional creature, amorphous and opalescent, sluicing through the water below.
At times the ice gets very thin, but I’m not in control of my direction, and there’s no safe place to stop. I figure there’s less mass in movement, and try my best to speed up, but I know I’m just inches from plunging in.
At times like these, I take my pills, I try to exercise, I walk in the sun without squinting. I do everything I can to let the ice freeze over, let it freeze into thick sheets so impenetrable I can never fall through. I daydream of houses built on the frozen lake, ice packed hundreds of feet deep like the arctic shelf, so deep I never think about it.
I have fallen through, and it was terrible. Perhaps four times, maybe five. It’s not something I ever want to experience again, and it has made me cautious, gun shy, not as gregarious as I once was, when I drank frozen drinks and didn’t care about the floor.
I have come to understand I have invisible partners skating alongside me, and while we never touch each other, we’re comforted knowing the other is there. They sing songs in their key, and I sing mine, and every few measures, their outlines are faintly visible as harmony.
I skate on a black lake, the ice clear as a mirror, and know I never really had a choice. I’ve got a good map and good leather, but I can’t slow down or else the weight will crack my defenses. It’s okay to keep going. I know who I am, and I live on a lake.