Sitting atop the bookcase, the child swung his legs, battering the volumes beneath the heels of his hob-nail boots. His small hands clutched around the edge of his seat, knuckles white with the hold, and on his face was a bright beam of joy. A gentle but shaggy mane of bright blonde hair fell around his shoulders, framing that round, adorable face that mother’s would fall to their knees to caress. To stroke those smooth, pale cheeks would be the highlight of a lifetime, the purpose and the climax, a pinnacle of destiny that one could only dream to achieve in their deepest realms of sleep-time.

The girl studying could have touched them any time – but her interest was never there. She could have reached out with one finger and poked the rose-tinted flesh, but she did not care to. Instead, her eyes were solely concerned with the book before her, with its pages of information and speculation, her hand absent-mindedly tracing over the picture of the underwater tower.

Broken pillars and a half-worn staircase lay around it, whilst fish swam in circles and coral grew up along one side; a picture of ruins, but ruins in the sea. Ruins lost to time, of which no one had a photograph for evidence, only stories and whispers of old pearl-divers and star-struck fishermen.

“What can you see, Cass?” the little boy asked, knocking a book from its place on the shelf. In a shudder, and a thump, it fell to the ground, landing unmercifully on its spine.

Cass, the girl, winced, but her eyes did not stray from the illustration before her.

“I can see Atlantis,” she said, “I can see towers and mermen, and lovers and seekers, and wonders and a city and a dog running through the streets, and a lock of hair, and a tiny fly caught piece of amber caught in a petrified tree, fallen down, sunken for centuries, then dug up by the excavators as they search for Atlantis.”

“What sort of fly is it, Cass?” he asked.

“It is a wasp,” she said, “An underwater wasp, and it is well.”

(Promps: underwater, evidence, amber)

by Ailsa C. Williamson


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