I beheld the new visitor with mixed boredom and faint excitement.
"Where am I?" he asked, like all the others before him.
"This is where all the lost things end up, friend," I replied. I followed his gaze to the lake beside us, it's transparent surface an elegant blanket over a sombre bed.
The bottom of the lake was a mess of things; a watch, torn papers, a couple of ear studs.
A diamond ring lay half-buried by coins, the contrast in their values reversed when the ring's owner threw it away in rage.
Children, especially infants, were buried deep under the banks, hidden from view. Six rivers flowed away from the lake, each leading to a cave mouth.
"Lost..? How do I get out of here?"
I pointed, across the lake to the mountain. "Row up the fifth river, and you'll make it out."
He thanked me and got onto the raft I'd painstakingly whittled out, and sailed off.
I drew a deep breath and counted to three as he made it to the end of the river, walking to the cave - and a massive creature lost to time reached out and snapped him up,
just like the previous four who made it to the end of their rivers.
See, everyone always asked me for the way out, but nobody ever stopped to ask me what I was doing there. I was lost too, just like them.
But not anymore.
I pushed another raft into the water and started sailing for the sixth river.