It was on my fifteenth birthday that I saw it.
My family picnics on the shores of Seneca Lake on our birthdays. This one was no different. I stormed away from the spread of sub sandwiches and cupcakes to take a walk down the lane where a hundred gigantic oak trees grew after my brother made fun of my acne. Again. The sun was setting and I barely heard my mom call after me not to wander too far.
My brother was such a jerk. My acne wasn’t so bad. Okay, yes it was, but why did he have to point it out to me so much? It wasn’t like I never looked in a mirror. I knew I wasn’t pretty (the cheerleaders at school reminded me of that fact more often than my brother did), and I knew Bobby McFarlane thought I was a pizza-faced wildebeest. My brother told me that too.
Tears ran down my face as I choked on my breath. I folded my arms to shut out the balmy summer breeze as though it too would call me ugly. Down the lane I walked, the lake a few yards to my left. Late afternoon mists were already creating a ghostly veil over the trees. The lane felt like a tunnel, a portal. Maybe to a parallel dimension—one where I was pretty and porcelain-faced and kissed by Bobby McFarlane.
I jumped and looked around. I was alone. My family was hidden behind the rows of oaks. My brother was probably pigging out on cupcakes so I wouldn’t get one. Or maybe he was hiding behind one of the trees trying to scare me.
I looked to the water. The surface was still rippling, as though a stupid, gangly, four-eyed someone had disturbed the water. I walked through the trees, searching.
“I know you’re there, Gregory,” I said, stomping toward the wavering surface of Seneca Lake.
Another splash. I looked for Greg, but I was alone. In the distance, now that I was out of the lane of trees, I could see my family. Gregory was among them in his red sweatshirt.
I looked back at the lake. Maybe a fish had jumped. I liked seeing them do it, so I stared, waiting, until something broke the surface. Something round and shiny, like a boulder the size of a cantaloupe.
I stepped closer. I squinted. I leaned over the water. The rock didn’t move. I waited.
Then I saw the eyes. Just as I recoiled and fell onto my butt, the head disappeared, followed by the flick of something silver and sinuous.
I stayed where I landed, my butt wet from the grass and my eyes glued to the mirrored surface of the lake, until my parents called me back. Then I ran.
If I saw what I thought I saw, it could only mean one thing:
Gregory, the cheerleaders, the jerks could all suck it. I had a secret. One that would change the world.