by Cheryl Secomb
Abby stared at the calm body of water, the moon’s reflection shimmering across its surface. A lullaby of crickets serenaded nearby as she leaned against the porch swing and rocked gently, the soft light from the cabin glowing through the window behind her. Had she been here a month already?
She inhaled the fresh night air and looked up at the winking stars. Just a few polishing touches and her newest manuscript of her Lily of the Lake children’s book series would be finished and ready to send in to her editor.
Lily. What a whimsical creature she was. She’d stirred alive in Abby’s imagination when she and her family had vacationed here during the summers of her childhood. Abby being an only child, Lily had become her playmate. Together they’d journeyed through adventure after adventure, most in an underwater kingdom since Lily was a creature of the lake. On occasion she could come to the surface, but only when the moon was full and the lake was calm, not a ripple. Like tonight. The inspiration for a new picture book began to tingle in the back of her mind.
What if Lily left the lake, but not for a short time on shore. What if by some magical spell, she sailed into the sky, maybe even outer space? Abby peered into the deep night sky. Perhaps a lake, floating in space, maybe the Milky Way is really made of milk. She shook her head. No. What if it were really made of…
“How about chocolate?”
Abby jumped, her heart racing inside her chest. She scanned the darkness. “Who…who’s there?”
From the shadows stepped an enchanting waif, her wet hair glimmered in the moonlight, her eyes sparkled in the light from the window. She gave Abby an impish grin of perfect, ivory teeth.
Abby’s eyes grew round. “It can’t be. You’re not real.” She sat frozen to the creaking porch swing.
The young girl giggled. She wore a short dress made from wet green leaves wrapped about her slim and shapely figure. Her feet were bare. She skipped closer to the porch. “I’m real to you, Abby. That’s all that matters.”
Abby swallowed hard, her mouth suddenly dry. A chill trickled across her skin. “Am I going crazy?” she whispered. Perhaps she’d been writing fantasy for too long.
She took a deep breath and studied the young creature before her. A smile lifted the corner of her mouth. “Lily?”
Mischief twinkled in the young girl’s eyes. Her soothing voice was hypnotizing. “Come, Abby.” She stepped away, motioning her to follow. “Come and play like we used to do.” She stepped into the lake and reached out her hand.
Abby descended from the porch and followed. She stretched her fingers and touched the girl’s hand. Her skin was ice. But, naturally. She was a creature of the lake. Abby’s toes dipped into the water; she shivered and pulled back her hand. She looked into the inviting eyes of the fanciful girl. “No, Lily. Not today.”
A taunting smile slid across the girl’s porcelain face. “Okay, Abby. Another time.” She slipped into the quiet darkness with the faint sound of rippling water, then the lake stood silent once again.
“Perhaps one day, Lily,” she whispered. “One day we’ll have that adventure.” She turned her back on the lake’s eerie stillness and headed inside, the plot of a new story stirring inside her head.