Flash fiction by Gillian Church
“I know she was here, though!” Tears streamed down Lucy’s cheeks. “You don’t believe me; nobody believes me! But I know I’m not imagining it!”
by Gillian Church
“She was just here!”
Lucy waded into the fish pond, carrying a broomstick.
“Sweetie,” called the girl’s grandmother from her perch on the patio bench, “even if mermaids were real, they couldn’t fit in that little pond! It’s a glo—“
“Glorified puddle,” finished Lucy. They’d had this conversation before. Many times
Nobody believed that Lucy had seen the mermaid, but, on many occasions now, she had watched the beautiful creature emerge from the pond. She always seemed to smile and gesture to Lucy, calling her to the edge of the little pond. And little Lucy — who had nobody but her worried grandmother to talk to, and nothing interesting in her life outside of books — had become enchanted. Any time Lucy tried to get closer, though, the mermaid disappeared beneath the water’s surface.
“I just saw her! I know I did. There must be some way for her to get in and out of our pond.”
She stabbed the broom against the pond’s bottom, careful to avoid the golden fish that tickled her bare calves. She followed an invisible pattern, making sure to check every inch for a deep spot or hidden passage. She only found mud and smooth, dark rocks, though.
“Where are you?” said Lucy, pleading. She had covered the entire pond and found no spots deeper than two feet, but she knew she must have missed something. She continued, avoiding looking back towards her grandmother, who watched with a smiling mouth but concerned eyes. It was the only expression she had when it came to Lucy, whose obsession had begun to frighten her.
“Maybe it’s time to go inside, dear,” said Grandma. “You can get dried off and maybe we can do a puzzle before dinner.”
“I know she was here, though!” Tears streamed down Lucy’s cheeks. “You don’t believe me; nobody believes me! But I know I’m not imagining it!” She threw the broom into the water and climbed onto the grass. She couldn’t stop crying and she wasn’t even sure why. She felt frustrated and embarrassed, but also like a beloved friend had abandoned her. Like her only dream had vanished.
Lucy rubbed her eyes and headed toward the house. Her grandmother bent down to retrieve the broom from the pond.
Lucy’s tears were interrupted by a splash from behind her. She whirled around just in time to see a pale, bluish arm reach out of the pond and grab her grandmother’s throat.
Before she even had time to understand what she was seeing, the mermaid emerged, flashing a toothy grin at Lucy. She’d never noticed the creature’s teeth before. They were surprisingly sharp…and there were so very many of them.
“Thank you, Lucy,” hissed the monster, as she dove back down beneath the water’s surface, dragging the old woman with her.
Lucy ran back to the edge of the pond where she had seen her grandmother disappear. She reached down, scrabbling at the rocks, hoping to grasp her grandmother’s hand or dress or anything.
But the pond was no more than two feet deep and there was nothing to grasp but pebbles and handfuls of mud, and the only other living beings were the unbothered fish that nibbled at her arms.