You arrived at your lake house yesterday and you're excited for a couple of weeks of peace. You rent the house out for most of the summer, reserving just a couple of weeks to yourself and your family (they're joining you next weekend). The money from the rentals is lucrative, but you are always afraid of coming back and finding the place looted or destroyed. One nightmare you always have is where you come back to find that the most recent renter is a psychopath who is convinced that the house is his house and you are the intruder. This hasn't happened for reals yet.
This morning you'll go through the house inspecting all of the bedrooms and bathrooms for signs of theft or broken fixtures. Everything will look to be in place, except for a barrette sitting on the bathroom sink that a renter must have left behind. The barrette will look familiar, like a barrette that belonged to someone who used to come to that house with you. It will give you chills to see it and you'll take it out on the deck and throw it into the lake.
Once the inspection is complete, you'll pour a cup of coffee and sit down for a look through the guest book. This is your favorite part of the return, when you get to read the notes left behind by all of your renters. Some of them are nothing but a log of complaints (Bad TV reception! Too drafty!). Most are effusive notes of thanks and appreciation for the beautiful house and the idyllic lakefront setting.
When you open the book, you'll see eight new pages have been filled in. The first will be a concise note of thanks and a brief log of their hikes and their lake activities. The second will be completely illegible. The third will be a long love letter to the house, speaking to the house in the second person even ('You kept us warm, you held us tight in the night.') The fourth one will be written on a page that is sopping wet with ice cold water. The words written there will suck the air out of your lungs.
The house is as beautiful as ever.
Sarah was the beautiful young women with lung cancer that you lured into your church and convinced to forego medical treatment and instead put her trust in the lord. She did whatever you asked of her, including being born again, because she fell in love with you. You would have her meet you up here at the lake house to reduce the chance of your wife spotting either of you. One night she came up alone after having seen a doctor behind your back. The doctor told her that since she refused treatment, the cancer had spread and he could only give her a few weeks to live. She called and begged you to come up and pray with her for Jesus' healing love, but your daughter had an oboe recital that night. So Sarah threw herself into the lake.
You came up the next morning and found her note on the bed. You hastily gathered all her personal effects into a small wooden smoke box, and you paddled out into the middle of the lake and dropped the box to the bottom. That's where you recognize the barrette on the sink from. Sarah must have recovered it so that she could fix her hair before her haunting. And if you turn around right now, you'll see Sarah's pastel blue face smiling at you, her seaweed covered arms outstretched for your embrace. There will be a crustacean crawling along her neck bone.
Say, 'Good Lord.'
Sarah will bubble some lake water from her lips and she'll say, 'There's nothing good about him.' Then she'll step across the living room for a hug.
Happy Guest Book Day!