Olga holds her breath and stares into the water. Earlier she had been hypnotized by the sparkle of the sun off quartz-flecked pebbles in the bottom. Now she is enthralled by the reflection of violet clouds on the surface. The river is her favorite place to spend her time, and she hasn't been able to come much this spring. Her mother has been trying to tame her of late, and keep her inside with her schoolwork and sewing. She doesn't mind too much, but she hates being kept from the waterside. Already she has missed the frogs laying their eggs, but that is alright. The tadpoles still come up and nibble her legs, darting into the crevasses between her feet and the rocks at the bottom.
Now it is time to go home. The sun has almost finished setting, and she is supposed to be home before dark. She had lost track of time in her pleasure, and her father would be very unhappy. She hopes that she won't get lost on the path again. It had happened once before, and she had been terrified, running into spider webs and listening to the wolves howl. But besides her fear, her toes are blue. It is still spring, after all, and she has been wading all day long, her skirts bound up around her waist.
She takes one last look at the sun and the cobblestone bridge to the next town. They are brilliant, all in gold and black and blue, and she cannot help but smile. Then she turns and begins to wake back to shore. The river is shallow, and she's a ways away. Before she reaches it, the sun finishes setting and she looses sight of land. It is unsettling, but Olga is a calm kind of girl, not flighty or prone to panic like so many of the others in her village. She continues walking, for she knows her destination even if she cannot see it.
But though she was quite close to the shore, she continues walking for far too long. Finally, she pauses to look up into the sky. The clouds that earlier gave her such delight were now obscuring the stars she needs, and the moon has not yet risen. All she can see is the twinkle of starlight off the water all around her, as far as she can see. She keeps walking, but still there is nothing. Finally, She assumes that she has made a turn somewhere and has been walking parallel.
She shivers in the brisk wind. Now the water is warmer than the air, and her lips are numb. She turns, to rectify her earlier turn, and spots a clear white light behind her. She realizes that it must be the moon, finally rising, and begins walking with new hope. But the moon does not rise, the water stays at knee depth, and Olga still cannot see the shore. Now she turns to face the light. It sends tiny rays skimming over the ripples in the water, laying a silver path just like the moon always does. However, the light is not above the water, she realizes. It is underneath.
She is terrified and cold, and she feels like her sun-bathed lunch was ages ago. She still cannot see shore or the stars, or the moon. She only feels tired, cold and afraid. She wants to cry. Her mother always told her that light is hope, and Olga feels in desperate need of hope right now. Abandoning her plan for reaching the shore, she stumbles quickly through the water, towards the light. She splashes and soaks her skirt, and trips several times but keeps her balance. The water is black and silver all around her, the stuff of nightmares. She has never been afraid of water until now.
As she nears the light, she sees that it is, as she thought, underneath the water. It is a sleeping woman, with skin more pale and luminescent than the lilies that her mother so carefully cultivates. She is more thin and sumptuous than the village beauty, Marie, with features more delicate and royal than any she could imagine. She is floating in the water with only her face emerging, surrounded by pure white cloth that billows and flows with the river currents, and her own flowing blonde hair. Her lips and eyelids are tinged blue, and she wonders how long she has been here. Olga slows down, unwilling to awaken this beauty. She remembers her mother's tales of the elves, all more exquisite than mortal ken, and stops dead. Her ripples, however, continue, and rock the lady's clothes and hair. The long lashes rise, and ice blue eyes turn towards Olga's, meeting them. The sensuous lips curl into a smile, and Olga is frozen in her tracks, trapped.
Author's Note- This is a bit of a deviation from what I normaly write, and I'm not wure where I'll go form here. When I know, there'll be at least one more chapter.