Daciana: Fish of the Lake

Nothing said adventure like French Toast with lashings of maple syrup. Patrick threw on a few strips of bacon for good measure. The girls eyed their plates, waiting for everyone to sit. As they took that first bite, they hummed with delight. The crisp outer layer of the eggy bread followed by the sweet and salty hit. Patrick tapped his glass, drawing attention. When the holiday was over, Leticia would be moving in with them. The girl’s eyes turn from dad to her, the woman who was happy for them to call her mum. Leticia squealed, jumped up and knocked her orange juice. She did not stop, throwing her arms around Leticia. Daciana grinned, following her sister’s example with less chaos. Patrick felt somewhat left out, and with another bite, he joined them. His chest pressed to the back of Leticia’s chair, and with arms stretched wide, he embraced his girls.

Patrick had a magic vision of their holiday, a view shared by Leticia. To the outside world, they looked normal. Mum, Dad and their two curious daughters. The twins pointed, questioning and giggling as they strolled along the pine trails. The initial excitement of embracing Leticia into their family unit waned in Daciana. She hugged herself again the autumn breeze. In the days following Spooky Day, Daciana had grown quiet and distant. For Luliana, it appeared nothing had changed. She continue with life, calling Patrick “dad” and fantasising about him marrying Leticia. Daciana felt an increased sense of isolation. She saw how Caleb doted on Cornelius; he smiled as the giggling toddler played with his food. Charlotte seemed hesitant to make conversation. What she said lacked the interest and affection Leticia’s voice conveyed. Daciana wondered why the coldness which infused the air had begun growing within her. These thoughts weighed heavy on her mind as they approached the lake.

Daciana lifted her eyes skyward. There were rumours, fairy tales and legends of a great battle. A large chunk of land ripped away in a time when magic existed in their world. The rough surface of the cliff overlooking the lake stood as a testament to this story. Over the years, trees covered the rugged and desolate land. A place that once housed a thriving spellcaster community. Daciana rolled her eyes as Luliana swooned, drawn in by these stories. “Where water falls over the earth’s edge, a doorway will open and lead the seeker to a magical realm”. Daciana stuck a finger in her mouth, pretending to vomit. She hated the romanticised views, and her sister was full of them. Luliana ignored her, continuing to share the prophecy. “In the bygone era of the fae creatures, people believed a human and a fae would reunite the worlds”. It was this trope Daciana hated; she wanted to be old enough to watch movies about the war itself. Still, she had to admire Granite Falls; it held an eeriness, an odd silence which caught her by surprise. The uneven land and the tunnel carved into the jagged rocks to make the forest accessible. Her lips curled, shying away from a full smile; Daciana thought, there was truth in the stories.

Leticia and Luliana sat on the damp grass. They watched as Patrick demonstrated his limited fishing skills to Daciana. She held the grip firm, flinging it back and forth to find the rhythm. Patrick handed her the reel; it clipped to the rod with a satisfactory click-clack. Daciana gave a momentary grin. Patrick caught her, and it spurred him on. His enthusiasm was infectious; Leticia almost wished they had a spare rod. Their catch was small fry, not worth the effort and patience they were giving. Patrick wound the last of his catch, releasing the palm-sized fish back into the lake. Daciana squealed, her rod tugged hard. Patrick clasped the grip, knocking her aside as the reel spun. Daciana grabbed Patrick’s jacket, shouting as the fish wrestled against the line. The scales shimmered in the midday sun. Its tail flickered. Eight inches of determined fish hung on Daciana’s rod. Patrick hugged her, apologising for his rough manor. He would, of course, make it up to her by barbecuing the fish for her supper.

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