Terror at the Lake

After spending sixteen hours in the car cramped in the back seat between my two little brothers, my grandparents say they want us to drive another three hours in the car to visit their lake house. My parents can’t say no, and being an eight year old kid there isn’t much I can do. And that was how I arrived at a lake in Wisconsin to have the most tortuous weekend of my young life.
This lake house is situated approximately in the middle of nowhere. When my grandma opens the door to the wretched house a wave of putrid, musty air wafts out; it suffocates me like a giant dusty, moth eaten blanket. She leads us into the kitchen which is smeared in blood like a scene from a horror movie. “Oh, don’t mind the blood,” she says with a smile, “it’s just from the fish we gutted last time we were here.” I hate fish, especially dead fish; it would have been naďve for me to think there wouldn’t be any dead fish at a lake, but walking into a house where the first thing I see is rotten fish guts smeared on the wall certainly wasn’t what I was expecting.
She leads us to a bedroom which is to be shared by my mom and dad, my two little brothers, and me. The sheets are dug up from some random closet and placed on the two small beds in the room without being washed. They are caked in dust and grime which keeps my two little brothers, who I have to share a bed with, up and sneezing all night. On top of that I am pretty sure that there are bugs in the mattress, because I can feel them crawl on top of me as I attempt to sleep.
I wake up the next morning still groggy from the nineteen hour car trip the day before and the lack of sleep I had that night. My grandpa asks if I would like to go fishing with everybody; being trapped on a boat with buckets of dead and dying fish is not my idea of fun, but it’s not like I can say no. I can’t swim so I am forced to wear a toddler size life jacket that I can barely move in, I am pretty sure it is cutting off the circulation in my arms. I follow everybody outside and spot my cousin sitting on the back step playing with something in a bucket. I go over and ask what he’s up to. “I putted da fishies to sleep,” he exclaims while holding up fistfuls of flattened and flopping fish. I look at the ground and find squished fish carcasses all around me. I back away slowly, trying to not to step on any of the “sleeping” fish.
On my way back my grandpa calls me over, “Hey! Want to see something?” I walk over excitedly, I don’t know what I expect to see, but it isn’t this. He lifts back the thick metal lid from a hole in the ground. The scent of hot rotting fish floats up. I almost vomit as my grandpa points into the hole full of huge, rotten fish corpses. “Hmm,” he says, “I guess we forgot to feed them.”
Finally, we board the motor boat. It is my grandpa’s pride and joy, and is way too small to fit eleven people on. We are all sitting, cramped like sardines, on this boat, when my cousin starts to throw a fit. He is climbing over people and flailing around, he stumbles into my lap, arms and legs flying crazily around my face. A razor blade-like finger nail catches on my cheek, his pulls his nail out taking a chunk of my flesh with it. Blood is pouring from my face and everyone, but my mom, is laughing. My mom holds a towel to my face to stop the bleeding, but the fishing trip continues.
Luckily the fish weren’t biting, and the fishing trip is cut short. We arrive back at the lake house where lunch consists of stale fish shaped crackers and sandwiches made from a roast chicken that had been in the back of the fridge. My mom bandages up my cheek, which bears a scar to this day. As I attempt to fall asleep that night, I am comforted by knowing that we are leaving in the morning.

E Poulakos

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