Yesterday evening was like any other, in that, after work, my partner and I walked the 200 metres down to the lake for our swim.
As we stripped down to our swimming costumes on the stairs where we leave our sandles, keys and towels, the sound of laughter came to us from two young men in the lake just a few metres away. We climbed into the lovely silky cool water and greeted the young men, one of whom had goggles on. I remember his face, as we set out swimming parrallel to the shore towards the beach which was our goal. I noticed a young woman calling to them from the bench up on the wall, where we also often sit in the evening taking in the view. Just a typical blissful evening on lake Ceresio, like so many others we have enjoyed I thought.
We arrived at the beach after a 10 minute swim and sat on the pebbles just drinking in the view in the dusk. After a few minutes we saw a boat speeding past us. "That boat is going fast I said".
"It's the rescue ambulance" he said. "How convenient I answered, instead of using the road they can send out a boat ambulance much quicker, probably an old person who's sick, I said.
"No, he replied, its the divers, someone is in trouble". My head came up and I stared at the boat stopping at the exact spot where we had been, blue light flashing. Another police boat with searchlights and the flashing blue light, arrived.
"We should head back its getting dark, I said, why don't we walk along the road." He set out to retrieve our keys and towels from the steps while I sat waiting on the wall.
A chef came out from the restaurant and looked at the boat. "A child has fallen into the water" he said to me, the only person there. My eyes fixed on the spot where we had got in. I looked, and said "but there was no one else around near the lake", what? fallen off the balcony I thought.
Nicola came running back and said our keys and towels had gone and the police had closed the road, the divers were there trying to retrieve the body of the young man, the young man in the goggles we had so recently greeted. I went into shock, as we ran back along the road in our swimming costumes toward the police and divers.
The stairs were empty, our stuff had gone , we asked the police who were taping off the stairs we had just entered the lake from, we asked them about our stuff, they said they would ask the other police officer, and then asked us what time we got in, and we told them about seeing the young man with goggles playing, and they asked how old? I said he looked about 19.
They told us he was now at the bottom of the lake, his sister had run shouting into the hotel seconds after we started swimming away from them. I couldn't believe it! I kept pointing to the spot were he was, but the inky black water was silent. After questioning us and retreving our house keys, they asked us to clear the area and we walked home in shock.
"Just like that" I said, he must have hit his head, or drunk something. Theres no current there, its shallow, before the shelf drops off".
We went home, I thought about that life taken in a blink of an eye all night, how?
This morning I woke, the village was full of talk about this young German man who drowned on holiday, he was taken to Lugano in hope, but died there soon after.
I was the last person to greet him, I thought, so strange, so tragic.
At 2pm in the heat of the day I again walked the same route down to the steps to swim, hoping to find some answers. I left the keys and towel on the same steps, as the night before, the blue lake so beautiful and tranquil gave up nothing, as I climbed into the blue silky cool water again, it was like any other summers day, it was as if nothing had happened, that a life hadn't been snuffed out like a candle.
I cut short my swim , got out of the water, and said a silent prayer to the lake I love, as I dressed, the swan I feed daily, went gliding by so elegantly, and silent. I climbed the stairs and went home. Life is so fleeting, and so precious, gone like a leaf in the wind... gone.