The October Country, Pt. 3

“It was September, and the last days when things are getting sad for no reason. The beach was so long and lonely, with only about six people on it. The kids quit bouncing the ball because somehow the wind made them sad too, whistling the way it did. And the kids sat down and felt autumn come along the endless shore. All of the hot dog stands were boarded up with strips of golden planking, sealing in all the mustard, onion, meat odors of the long, joyful summer. It was like nailing summer into a series of coffins.”

And so, Bradbury sets the opening scene of his brilliant short story, “The Lake,” the third story in his The October Country collection that I wanted to break apart and dissect.

Before we know anything about the characters or their story, we’re thrown into a familiar scene, one we’ve all experienced before time and time again—the end of summer. Bradbury expertly navigates us through all the sights and sounds and smells associated with the changing of seasons, and it’s so on point I could’ve sworn I felt a cool wind blow across the pages as I read.

Something I found interesting in this story is that Bradbury seems to be having so much fun describing the setting that damn near half the story is just that—a description of the lake and all thats going on around it. The actual story almost seems to have been an afterthought.

Once we’re finally thrown into the story, we’re told of an unfortunate accident that happened at the lake a year or so earlier, when two friends were out swimming and only one of them returned to shore. The body was never found.

The surviving friend often returns to the lake to call out for his long lost friend, but of course, the call is never answered.

Flash forward about a decade to when the friend once again returns to the lake, this time with his new bride, Margaret, at his side. In the distance, he notices a lifeguard on a boat hauling a lifeless body in their arms. He immediately recognizes the body to be his old friend, so he asks the lifeguard for a closer look. This is the only part of the story Bradbury doesn’t describe in great detail, leaving the horrors of what he sees there on the shore to our imagination.

“The Lake” is a very short tale, but like the best of his stories, I feel like I’m right there inside it, standing on shore, seeing the water rippling under the low sunlight, hearing the laughter of the children as they take their last swim of the year, and smelling the hot grease wafting out of the shops that haven’t yet closed up for the summer.

On the surface, it may not seem like there’s much to this story, but it will forever hold a special place in my heart because of the way it makes me feel.

Ultimately, it’s a story about loss—loss of childhood, innocence, carefree fun, and yes, loss of life and friendships. The seasons are changing and everything that was once fun is now gone.

It’s important to keep in mind, though, that Bradbury isn’t trying to depress us or bring us down, he’s only making the point that things are always changing. We have our seasons, same as the year. Though we may, at times, lament over the things we’ve lost, we will still continue to move forward through time. We will change. We will evolve. We will continue to love. It’ll all just be… a little different.

Search for a Topic
Posted Recently

Click here to buy limited edition/rare/signed DOOM FICTION books!

Have a question?

For booking, requesting materials for review, and general inquiries, please email

For all complaints, hate mail, unpaid parking tickets, etc, please email 

%d bloggers like this: