The informant and her family used to live in Rockford, Michigan next to Lake Bella Vista. She says she grew up with the legend of the ghost of Lake Bella Vista, hearing it from neighbors and family members. She says she first heard it from her father.
According to the legend, a man who used to live on the lake went swimming late (well past midnight). He dove down under the water, and got his foot caught between some rocks at the bottom of the lake on accident. Without anyone around to help him, the man drowned, leaving his family behind. Years later, a group of teenagers (a horror story trope many will recognize) went swimming in the lake late at night. one of the girls started screaming that something had grabbed her leg, and before her friends could get to her, she was pulled under. Her friends swam to shore as fast as they could to get away from whatever it was that had pulled her under. They found the girl’s body floating in the water the next morning with a black handprint encircling one calf.
The informant says that the story is one usually told to kids at family get-togethers with neighbors and guests. Whoever tells the story usually pantomimes along with the narrative, and involves the audience by grabbing someone in the front row and pulling on their leg just as the ghost in the story had done. The informant says that the most performative part of the legend is when the storyteller puts a big, muddy handprint on the leg of the front-row “victim”.