First Page Challenge 2021—2nd place winner: "View from the Porch"
By Thomas Gabrielson
Three children stood motionless at the edge of the lake, their bare feet inches from the tiny wavelets that collapsed on the pebbly beach. A fragile orange tinged the eastern sky forecasting the daily retreat of the darkness.
The taller girl, her long hair pulled into a tight ponytail, and the boy, blonde with a hint of red, stared at the dark water. The smaller girl buried her head into her sister’s chest and sobbed quietly.
The boy turned without a word and started up the path to the cabin. Minutes later, the tall girl took the younger girl’s hand and led her up the same path, all three now with their backs to the lake.
As the sun rose, the lake water gradually changed from sinister black to a welcoming blue-green but the sunlight never penetrated deep enough to reach the two bodies lying on the muddy bottom.
For the first twenty years of his career, Tom Gabrielson worked as an engineer developing devices for underwater sound. He then accepted a position at Penn State. After twenty-five years teaching graduate acoustics classes, he now specializes in the study of sounds in air—their production by storms, volcanos, and explosions, and what those sounds reveal about the environment. To date, his publications include technical papers and articles on science for general audiences. With retirement approaching, he plans to continue writing—less fact, more fiction!