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The Sun Still Hangs Above The Icy Surface
by Xin Kong

No one knew from when John had been sitting quietly by the lake. Every day, he used to sit on the long bench by the water, with his huge hat as if he was afraid to be seen by human beings. He was doing nothing but watching the surface, lost in thought. The sun was shining down on the ice, reflecting a world of rays. There were a few boys skating around, shouting and laughing. John smiled as he remembered his own childhood…

The recent weather report said that, influenced by a warm current from the south, this winter might go through warmer than ever. John believed that nowadays less children skated on the ice than before. Because of the warm weather in the past ten years, the ice seemed to be very thin, unlike what it was in his time. In those days the most exciting thing for him and his friends was skating on the ice of the lake. He still remembered one early spring when the ice had begun to melt, he and his friend went skating, only for the ice to break and, as a result, both of them fell into the lake. If they had not been saved in time, they both would have perished in the freezing water.

More and more children came to skate on the ice. But he noticed that it was getting warmer and warmer. At about lunchtime, the ice was beginning to melt, so he was feeling a little worried about the children. One of the workers came and tried to persuade them not to skate but in vain. Pointing to the notice on the lake, the worker told John that a few people would be drowned to death in the lake every year, but people would not take any warning from this, and so more people would surely die.

John came out of prison only a short time ago. He took part in a robbery and was given a ten-year sentence. While he was in prison John's mother became so depressed she took her own life. After this John promised to try to get out as soon as he could. He tried to behave well and after a while he had his stay shortened. Despite this, two years before he was to be set free, John started to feel ill. After doctors had examined him they found that he was suffering from cancer.

The night before, John had not been able to sleep, so he took more of his medicine than usual, and it sent him into a deep sleep. In his dream he saw his mother again, standing not far away. John rushed towards her but she moved away so fast that he couldn’t catch up with her, so he had to shout, “Oh, Mum, it’s me, please wait, it’s me, Mum.” When he woke up, he found his pillow quite wet with tears.

John had not gone to the lake for two days. But on the third afternoon he appeared with a hammer in his hand. He squatted to hit the ice. The children nearby came to ask him if he wanted to catch fish there. He said nothing, but merely nodded. Then he started. He used great force and hit a hole as large as a basin.

The next morning when the children came, they found that in the hole there was a dead body, one whose arms were still out of the water because it was too shallow.

The local paper reported that every year there were accidents on the lake, the year before last two people died, the year before three died and this year one had died. They hoped that because of this the local people would not go skating on the lake, especially the children.

The drowned person was John.

Since then, no one had come to skate. When you walked by the lake, you could only see the sunshine glittering on the ice.