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189

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This lake represents a whole lifetime. My lifetime. As a child, I wandered over every shore, I observed each pebble, every ripple that moved across its surface. In order to see you. Legendary monster, I have spent my whole life looking for you, you knew how to open my heart and my eyes.

I was seven years old, and already used to sneaking off in the middle of the night, in the moonlight, so that my parents wouldn’t find me. Yes, I used to steal the boat! But my conscience did not trouble me as I was sure I would soon make one of the greatest discoveries ever known to science. Oh, I was under no illusions; if you were really there, there must be an explanation. You were not simply one of the last survivors of the Devil’s creation that God had brutally massacred.

So, I was seven, and the waves tossed my little boat about. I was the captain, and I was exploring unknown places, full of dangers and monsters lurking in the depths of the icy waters. That night it was not cold, and the sky was clear as the full moon lit the swell of the water with all its imposing roundness. The reigning silence was oppressive, the water, mountains and trees were all black, yet my heart was stirred by a desire to know, to discover, to explore, a longing so strong that I would have faced every danger in the world just to see you.

You.

I was in the middle of the lake and all of a sudden, the water started to move, as if it had just acquired some phenomenal force. My craft danced on the wild swells, I clung to the sides, I shouted, and suddenly I saw you. I saw your huge head rise out of the water, black, against the moon, staring at me. There was nothing but your head, and no face: my heart stopped beating as we looked at each other, head to head. For several long minutes, for several long moments.

Then a splash of water, a boat turning round, then nothing, nothing other than the choppy waves that took my heart with them.

I grew up with one aim in mind: to see you again. I spent day upon day, night upon night exploring the lake, staring into it. I became a scientist, and I had soundings taken of the lake dozens, hundreds of times, in search of the legendary creature. And several times, you were there. You, several of you, who came from the sea and then swam off again. Then came back again. Always in the deepest part of the lake, where the cameras could hardly see anything, where the underwater caves were too deep. Yet we did have pictures. You were smaller than one would have thought, you came in a group for a very short time because there would never have been enough food for everyone.

But in fact I had still not seen you again. I organized an expedition, as soon as I knew you would all be there, that you yourself would be there, and we went down into the heart of the Loch, so deep that no light could reach us. The sun had disappeared. It was night once more, and our light was the moon.

That was when I saw you again. Through the porthole, once again my heart stopped beating, when for the first time – and also the second –, my eyes met yours, I saw your head, straight out of another era, turn towards me and stare at me.

Here you are. You exist. The myth has become reality.

Nessy.

This story is not just that of an ambitious explorer who has spent his life in pursuit of a monster hiding in the depths of a lake in Scotland. It is the story of a man who knew how to look for himself, recognize himself and find himself. I had finally made the discovery of a century; at last Nessy, and his brothers and sisters were indeed there. And suddenly, something took my breath away. I looked into your eyes, Nessy, and I realized. Realized that I was just about to destroy you. There are so few of you. An endangered species, at risk of extinction, finally brought to light.

Humans would make short work of you.

They would capture you, and turn you into a fairground attraction. They would kill you, little by little. If you remained a legend, you would be protected.

To not reveal your existence would be such a huge sacrifice. I delved into the furthest reaches of my soul, the depths of my heart, the swell of my feelings, and in the end I knew that I would say nothing.

I have explored Loch Ness, I have explored the creature’s eye, I have explored my heart, and in the end I kept quiet.

Translated by Wendy Cross

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