Short Story: The People Of The Lake

Lake Lanier

Silence filled the night as the young girl sat near the lake. 

“What you doing out here,” a whispering voice touched her ears. 

“Who said that,” she called out while standing. 

“Dangerous place for a lonely girl,” the voice said again. 

“Who’s there,” her heart sped up with fear. 

Backing up preparing to run, the girl saw something that made her want to pass out. A glowing figure began coming out of the water. It was a African American girl about the same age as her wearing old tattered clothing. Her eyes held a hint of sadness and a lot of anger

“Where are you going girl,” her voice got stronger. 

She turned to run, but a force stopped her. 

“Going so soon,” the spirit taunted her. 

Tears flowed down the girls eyes as she pleaded, “Please.”

With the snap of a finger, the spirit had the girl sitting back at the edge of the water with her. 

“Relax girl, I won’t hurt you right now.”

“What do you want,” the frightened girl asked. 

“What is your name,” the spirit asked back. 

“Nechole,” the girl answered. 

“Well Nechole, I am Polly. Named after my mother,” she said with pride. 

“Are you going to hurt me, Polly,” Nechole’s voice shook. 

“You intrigue me,” Polly looked closely at her, “Why would you be here alone despite the history of this place.”

“Lake Lanier,” Nechole was confused. 

“You people must do better with learning history,” Polly scoffed, “Have you never heard of Oscarville?”

“Oscarville?”

Polly waved her hand out towards the water and an image of a city appeared. In it you could see people running for their lives, buildings on fire, and so much death before water rushed through the town and the image sank back into the water. When she looked at Nechole there was tears running down her face. 

“Was that real,” Nechole finally spoke. 

Polly shook her head while sighing. It had been awhile since she told the story to anyone. Many were not worthy, but it was something that stopped her from letting happen to Nechole what happened to the others. 

“It was very much real. Those that didn’t make it out safely, were killed all because people felt we didn’t belong in a town we created. Then they lived in the town like nothing happened before flooding it further disrespecting  our bodies.”

Nechole sat there taking in all that was told to her. Not only was she talking to a ghost, but receiving a history lesson as well. 

“Is that why there’s so much death here,” Nechole’s voice rose like she had just uncovered and major secret. 

“Over 600,” Polly stood, You should go now.”

“What’s wrong,” Nechole was scared again. 

“The others will be waking soon and they won’t be as nice as me.”

Nechole backed up from the shore and moved quickly towards land. Looking out at the water she saw other glowing figures begin to rise out of the water lighting up the night and watching her. What appeared to be the leader, held up his hand and made her stop in her tracks. 

He then looked at Polly,” You told her our story?”

“Yes Father,” she moved closer to him.

“Why?”

“She has good energy. She is the one to tell the story.”

The father looked back at Nechole. In the blink of an eye he stood in front of her. He circle her with glowing eyes studying her before stopping back in front of her. 

“My daughter is a fine judge of character. You radiate purity. Will you tell our story?” 

“Is that what you want,” Nechole’s voice shook. 

“It is.”

“Will the killing stop,” she inquired. 

“We do not wish to kill,” he told her, “but with our sacrifice the descendants of others must pay the price as well. 

“You take our people as well,” she stressed. 

“They did not heed the warning,” he shrugged, “we were not welcome here then and we do not need to enjoy the creation that came from our deaths. Go back to your people, tell our story, and make sure the world knows what awaits them should they not heed the warning.”

With that he was back at the shore with the rest and they all disappeared except Polly. She lingered a second longer. 

“It was nice to meet you Nechole, “ she waved. 

“Interesting, but nice Polly.” Nechole waved to her. 

“Tell our story and don’t come back.” She warned with a smile before disappearing.

Note: Oscarville, Ga was one of the city’s located in Forsyth County that experience what many have referred to as a racial cleansing. 1,100 African Americans were chased out of the town making it an all white town. Many tactics were used such as burning buildings, lynching, and more. In two separate occasions, a black man and two teenagers were hung in retaliation to the rape of one white woman and the murder and rape of another in 1912. Towns like Oscarville and others were then flooded to create Lake Lanier which took 5 years to fill up.

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