This story is by Kayla Aldan and was part of our 2017 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Can a person literally fall in love? Technically and grammatically, no. People who say that have used “literally” in an incorrect manner. None of these individuals have tumbled down a flight of stairs and landed in such a way that one might describe it as being “enjoyable.” So when I tell you I literally did fall in LOVE, the following question is how.
You see, I fell in the LOVE, not love, although the two are not entirely different–more on that later. LOVE stands for the Lake Of Visceral Emotions. I’m aware of the redundancy, but I’m not the person who named it. It’s a lake steeped in local legend, and my guess is that whoever thought of the name did so to highlight this tale.
The story goes that, thousands of years ago, there was a woman, and she was the strongest woman in the Seven Clans. She was also the only child of the Alpha who ruled over all seven of the clans. It was under his leadership that peace prospered, and his daughter would take on his role after his death.
On one autumn afternoon, the Alpha collapsed from a fever while hunting. With each passing day, more leaves fell from the trees, and his health worsened. Healers from each of the Seven Clans offered an assortment of herbs, salves, and poultices, and he turned them all away.
“The day the last leaf falls from the birch tree outside will be the day I breathe my last. There is nothing to be done,” he told them.
The days turned colder, and a single leaf clung to the birch tree outside the Alpha’s home for nine days. On the tenth, he called his daughter to his side.
“There is something you need to know,” he whispered. “Any who try to claim the Alpha title for the wrong reasons will meet an untimely end.” He released a gentle exhale, and a wind burst broke the bond between the stem of a lone leaf and the birch branch to which it was once attached.
The traditional burial ceremony was held for him, and he was buried under the bare birch tree before the first snow. On this day, the woman accepted her role as Alpha and ruled the clans for a short while before any stepped forward to claim the title as their own.
The first craved the power of the position. After offering himself as a husband, a boulder tumbled down a mountain and crushed him while he was hunting.
The second desired wealth. After declaring his intentions, a swarm of wasps stung him to death after he started chopping down the tree in which they had built their hive.
The third lusted after her. He planned to camp out in the brush outside the woman’s home until it was dark, but a rotted oak fell on him before the fires were lit.
Many more came over the years, but their reasons for wanting the title have been forgotten. The woman grew old. On the anniversary of her father’s passing, she sat down beneath the birch tree where he’s buried. She fell asleep, and the final leaf fell. That night, a terrible storm brought rain for nine months and filled the valley in which the Seven Clans lived creating the LOVE as we know it today.
Here’s the part that irritates me–someone, in more recent years, named it the Lake of Visceral Emotions because love was apparently missing from the story. Since then, the myth has developed into a modern tourist attraction drawing in people who are searching for love. The story was altered to say that the woman, unable to find a suitor willing to love her, cried day and night for years filling in the lake and eventually drowning in her own tears. The claim is that bathing in the water will bring your destined lover to you. Men and women of all ages flock to the LOVE and throw themselves in the water.
So what does this have to do with me? I have done everything in my power to avoid the LOVE. I’ve mocked it my entire life. Well not too long ago, I got my foot caught in an exposed root, tumbled down a steep hill, and rolled over the edge of a mini cliff into the deep waters of the LOVE. And that is how I literally fell in LOVE.