Water Pressure

3rd in the 'Fantasy And Beyond 1998' competition

Ripples of water, kissed tenderly by the morning sunlight, glistened beneath him, beckoning with coy fingers. With a furtive glance, he dived in. He felt the water hiss and sizzle as it enveloped his warm bare skin, and curtains of bubbles blurred his vision. Surfacing, he filled his lungs with moist morning air and, treading water, scanned the lucent water surface, searching.

He sound found her – her silhouette obscured somewhat by a tree’s overhanging branches, becomingly shading her figure. Sylphlike, she sat serenely in the waters beneath. Excited, he ducked under once again and wound his way through the cool water to emerge beside her.

Glancing quickly upwards, her surprise at his sudden appearance was belied by the ripple of pleasure that crossed her face. From beneath a veil of liquid curls, she met his reverent gaze with mud brown eyes lashed with watery green. She brushed his cheek with wrinkled fingers. ‘I did not think you would come,’ she said, deliberately.

‘But I did’, he answered in a voice expressing much more than reprove. ‘How could you doubt?’ It was true. He idolised this watery maid and all her quirks, and would do anything for her. She knew this, and regarded him coolly, cocking her head to one side. Her eyes narrowed. ‘I have a problem’.

‘Go on’. ‘A problem that has plagued me for quite some time’, she continued. She gesticulated towards the other bank of the lagoon. ‘A blue and scaly serpent, with fanged maw and stinging tail. Huge, it is’, she added, watching his open mouth widen still. She leaned in closer, allowing her hair to brush lightly against his cheek. ‘You could rid me of it’. She pressed a finger to his naked chest. Bemused, he glanced downwards, and then up again as his decision was made.

‘Yes’, he answered simply. She smiled and nodded towards the other bank. Taking a deep breath, he sank below the water surface. There, the filtered sunlight was dispersed into dappled walls of refracted light, behaving as mirages that confused his path. Braving this, he stroked strongly on, feeling the cool water flow over his body and whisper softly in his ear. He ignored its urge to return, already able to hear the hum of the serpent pulse metal-edged through his body. Its cloudy blue shape was silhouetted in the waters ahead.

Kicking wildly, he flung himself at the beast. Wrapping himself around its slender form, he rolled maniacally in the water, sending up plumes of white foam. He rose his head victoriously into the air and grasped the narrow neck in both hands.

‘Michael!’ The struggle suddenly ceasing, he turned his head in response. A tall figure stood at the edge of the swimming pool. ‘What on earth are you doing to the pool cleaner?’ his mother asked. She glanced over at another figure, her body wracked with laughter. Understanding, she knelt down and looked her young son in the eye. ‘You know, you don’t have to do everything your older sister tells you to!’



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