sunshine by josh thomas

Through the rain and the fog we could see two men, up to their waists, in the lake. They were wearing black rubber trousers and long rubber gloves.

On the edge of the lake there was a third man who was attached to the men in the lake by a pair of ropes. They looked as though they’d lost something and, I guess, they didn’t want to get lost themselves while they were looking. It wasn’t a big lake; at least it wasn’t that big on the surface.

“Are they fishing in that lake or are they looking for corpses?” I asked. Vicky looked out of the car window at the dismal weather and replied right away.

“They’re looking for corpses.”

I looked again. The men were absolutely soaked because of the rain. Vicky was right. It was the kind of day that you’d find a corpse in a lake. If it had been sunny that morning, it would have been different. The three men might have decided that they were going to go fishing after all and they’d have gone to the lake with sandwiches and a Thermos of hot drink.

If it had been sunny, they’d have sat around and could have ended up telling stories for six hours and may have even learned some new things about each-other that would have brought them closer together as friends.

At the end of the afternoon, one of them may have caught one of the big silver salmon that live in the lake and they’d all have gathered around to have their photos taken with it shining in the sun before putting it back into the lake and watching it swim away.

But this morning, when they’d looked outside, it had been raining and they’d had to put off their plans to go fishing. It would have been the wrong thing to do on such a grey and spooky day. You wouldn’t choose to go sunbathing in the snow, or to go to the cinema on the most beautiful day in spring. This is just how they’d felt.

So, in accordance with the weather, the three men had decided that the thing to do would be to go looking for corpses in a lake instead. Instantly, they all felt better because they knew that this was exactly the kind of thing that such a day was for.

We drove past their lake just as they were beginning to look for corpses. I’d probably have started at the lake too. You can’t find corpses just anywhere. I wondered whether they’d have any luck. It would be a shame, having already given up their plans to go fishing, if they didn’t find any corpses. That would really put them in a bad mood!

I decided that they probably would find a corpse in the lake, after all – they looked so determined. They’d haul it out of the water, all grey and wet, and pose for photos with it. They’d tell each-other stories while dragging it back to the shore and learn things about each-other that would cement their friendship and create even deeper bonds between them.

After they were satisfied, they’d put the corpse back in the lake and watch it drift away from them, like proud parents watching their children making friends in the playground with the reeds and the mud. Later, they might boast about the size of the corpse to their wives or to other men in the pub.

All things they could never have done in the sunshine.
Josh Thomas lives halfway up a valley in Wales.