It wasn’t long before the lake came into view. Its surface was a cool, placid blue. Two aluminum boats sat moored against the shoreline. Julia placed her pole into one and motioned for Phoebe to sit down.

“But, what if…” She lifted up the borrowed t-shirt and pointed to her scar.

Julia just shrugged. “If that thing pops out of you again, I’m jumping in the water."

She grabbed the stick, sending the boat on a gentle course. Phoebe's eyes widened as they rode out. Occupying the lake were impressive cypresses and tupelos, larger than she had ever seen before. They had been gathered along the shoreline, but grew seamlessly into the lake as well, dotting its interior.

Image: Phoebe and Julia are in the boat, steering around three giant cypress trees. Julia is in the back with the engine, while Phoebe is in front looking at her surroundings. Their supplies are in the middle. A forested shoreline can be seen in the distance with a fourth cypress close to it. The scene is tinted a light blue as dawn continues to break. End description.

Julia wove around them, slicing through their reflections like a knife. A group of trees were growing in a clump, mud caking between their roots and knees to form a small bit of land. The largest cypress was half-fallen. It leaned precariously over the water and many of its thick roots stretched up into the air.

Image: Phoebe and Julia look up at the tilted cypress. Its trunk is wider than the boat. Half of its roots are sunk into the water and mud, while the other half are splayed out in the air. Behind it, also part of the island, is another cypress. End description.

“Wasn’t like this last week,” Julia said, “Guess that quake did some damage. But the fishing should still be good here, they all crowd in the roots for protection. Then we get ‘em.” She handed Phoebe a fishing pole and told her how to cast, laughing when Phoebe’s line got caught in some low branches. They sat together, with no noise but the rustling of leaves.



Happy Juneteenth!
Avernus is an analogue for the Great Dismal Swamp, and Lake Drummond really does have big cypresses growing in it (though they aren't quite as big as the ones at Avernus!)