Glass was the writephoto prompt from this time last year. I’m trying to catch up with Sue Vincent’s meme while she’s doing other things. I hope she’s doing well and will be back soon.
This was the photo prompt:
When I wondered what to write, I suddenly thought of the tale I’m working on with Deirdre. She’s an addition to the Dylan and Dougall team from my world of the Princelings, explained in my post on the Princelings website. This might be the twist in the tale I’m looking for.
So it’s snippet, rather than flash fiction today. It’s just over 500 words.
Deirdre goes boating
Deirdre scrambled to a halt at the top of the cliff. The bay spread out below her, seaweeded rocks dropping into the deep channel just off-shore. She’d never seen the water so still before. Not even the gentle swell of the surface to show the waves were still at work.
Were any of the mermaids still there? What about a selkie? Or even an otter? She had to see if someone, one of them, had seen her friend. Nobody at the castle had any idea where Dylan had gone.
Not a ripple broke the glass-like surface.
She clambered down onto the rocks, and peered over the edge. The anemones and barnacles stared back at her, no distortion or reflection getting in the way. Peering through a pane of glass would have left more impression, since handmade glass could never be entirely flat. It was neither high nor low tide, as well. How could the surface be so silent, so vast, and so motionless?
Wondering would solve nothing. She had to know whether Dylan had been washed into the ocean. The small boat lay in the arms of the rocks, carefully protected by cushions padded with seaweed and hair. Deirdre slipped the painter from the iron ring set in the basalt rock, then eased it out into the water.
Even with minimum splash, the boat set ripples journeying out to sea. She might as well have announced herself with the alarm call on a conch shell.
Paddling as softly as she could, she made her way across the bay to the headland. Perhaps a sea creature or two would be there.
Halfway across, she paused for a moment, resting her hands. It was months since she’d last paddled a boat. Her hands were soft again. She flexed them, and looked over the side, into the depths. Fear rose up as the light went down, down into darkness. The channel was so deep, if she fell in, she’d never emerge. Surely Dylan couldn’t have got here and survived?
She was thrown back into the boat as it tipped to the other side, accompanied by splashing and screeching. A mermaid, maybe the one she’d seen the day before, grabbed her and lifted her bodily over the gunwale, holding her in the water. She screeched at Deirdre again, and pulled her under. Deirdre managed to take a breath before her head slipped below the surface.
“Speak!” the mermaid said, then pushed her into the air again. The mermaid held onto Deirdre’s legs; she could stand on the creature’s hands. In a second she realised what the mermaid meant, took a deep breath, and put her head under water again.
“Dylan’s disappeared washed out to sea can you help us’ she said in a rush, and raised her head again, gasping in some air.
Then she ducked her head back again, hoping for an answer.
“Wait here!” The mermaid raised up her hands and deposited Deirdre back in the boat.
Deirdre sat on the dinghy’s bench, shaking the water from her ears, trying to come to terms with actually talking to a mermaid.
She sat under the afternoon sun, the ripples fading away, and the water returning to its glassy state.
Just wait, she thought.
© J M Pett 2020