Rating: G

Disclaimer: I got the idea for this extremely short ficlet from 'City of Masks' of the Stravaganza series.

Summary: A girl's thoughts while on vacation.

She stared out over the water. It seemed so close, yet untouchable. Glancing toward her left, in two steps her hand turned off the light, and she turned automatically toward the lake again.

It wasn't dark, wasn't quite twilight even. It was the time of day just before then, when every miniscule movement of water could still be seen; recorded, if you managed to view one wave and ignore all others, a feat which she found quite challenging.

Her gaze flickered over to the houses. Hers, or her hosts', to be precise, was a mammoth one built right to the abrupt bank of the river. This continued all round the square lake. Such an unusual shape. She supposed it must be man-made, but that didn't detract from the beauty of looking out your window and seeing water lap at your backyard.

The sounds of a baby screeching with laughter, followed by excited mutters, didn't distract her. On the contrary, she was glad the two others that shared her room weren't there. Space was a luxury, unoccupied space even more so. There were two doors that could be closed between her and the rest of the inhabitants, and she took full advantage. Silence was priceless.

Across the lake, there was an opening. She supposed it eventually led to the sea. For a second, there was a passing light, red and white…and for another second, she imagined it was a boat, a mandola, such as might be found in Venice or Bellezza. She imagined it was possible that she could be in such a beautiful city, with all its danger and intrigue, suspicion and romance, even farther from what she had already escaped than the few hundred miles between her and her home.

Reality came back. Downstairs, her uncle's sharp voice interrupted her aunt's as the baby began to cry. Grandma began to nag, and footsteps on echoing up the stairs announced the presence of her little brother.

Her paradise broken, she turned away from the window and lay on the bed, waiting for the intruder into her Xanadu.