The Pond

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Dusk was setting in. The slanting rays of the sun pierced through the thick canopy of the woods taking on a life of their own, as free floating particles were illuminated in their wake. The forest was alive, and the sounds of life echoed over the water. It was not a big pond, but it was well protected. Sunlight rarely touched its mercurial surface, and no human eyes had ever taken in its mystery. Almost totally submerged in the shallows of the pool, she surveyed the pristine surface – her sensitive eyes barely clearing the minuscule ripples that travelled unseen over the water. Her instincts had abandoned her, or at least that is was the feeling amongst the other inhabitants of the pond. All the signs indicated that it was going to be a dry summer, and yet for some unknown reason she had chosen to spawn in the shallows. This of course meant certain death for her hatchlings, and she wasn’t sure why she had done it. It just felt right.

Luck had been on her side – the predators of the pond had not decided to target her unborn children for her rebellious act. She was just being ignored, and that was fine with her, because she also had a heightened urge to protect her young. Probably the strange circumstances she thought. So, she sat there in the shallows, watching the forest around her carefully, and protecting the frog-spawn that lay beneath her spongy form.

She didn’t know how long she had been dormant, when something pulled her back to consciousness. Her membranous eyes flapped open, quickly darting over the water’s surface and beyond. But, all was peaceful, and the sounds of the pond reassuringly droned in the background. It was then that she felt the slight movement. The soft bobbing of delicate spheres of tissue pressing against her oily skin. She nearly leapt out of the water in surprise. Her spawn were hatching! But they were early by an entire moon cycle. She moved aside, totally submerging herself to confirm her doubt. Sure enough, there lay her spawn on the muddy bottom of the pool bouncing around with a life of their own. She was about to go in for a closer look when the first one hatched.

In the darkness of the pool, the flash of light was blinding. And the first one was followed by another, and another as the surface of the tiny spheres broke open and the dazzling golden luminescence poured out in to the surrounding water. As she broke through the water’s surface in surprise, the splash echoed deafeningly through the forest. Everything had suddenly stopped, even the wind chose to keep its silence. She watched the glowing patch of water in awe, as the balls of pure light rose from the surface spiralling upwards towards the canopy, drawing intricate patterns in the air. A few excruciatingly long moments later, all the spawn had hatched, and the glowing patch of water had disappeared. The floating points of light swarmed over the pond giving the entire surface a magical glow, as a lone pair of eyes watched the magnificent display overhead.

Then suddenly, a single sphere broke formation, and headed towards her. As the ball of light neared the surface, her eyes began to decipher a form within the blinding glow. When the tiny winged figure was finally hovering before her eyes, she was totally paralysed. A delicate hand extended from the glowing ball to touch her skin, and the golden butterfly wings flapped hypnotically as the glow enveloped her entire being. When her eyes finally adjusted to the blinding light, everything had changed. But, she felt surprisingly calm. It just felt right.

A lone human figure stood in the shallows of the pond, the cool water lapping against her ankles. A million points of light flowed in streams around her, as her long green hair caressed her naked skin. She took her first tentative steps in the shallow water, sometimes stumbling, as the swarms of light urged her on. By the time her feet finally felt the moist dryness of the forest floor, she was getting used to the idea of walking. She raised her delicate hands in front of her eyes, studying them with curiosity as she moved her fingers. She had a lot to learn, but she knew she would not be alone. The light urged her on, until finally her glowing green form melted into the foliage. Almost immediately the sounds of the forest returned. The delicate tinkling of water, the incessant drone of insects, and the distinct croaking of frogs in the spawning season. It was going to be a dry summer.

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Short fantasy fiction piece written as an exercise for the Fantasybits writer group, based on the prompts ‘Hatching Egg’ and ‘Golden Butterfly’. Originally posted to the group in April 2000

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