Lexie in Waterland
Based on a true and not-so-true story
I’ll leave it up to you to decide which is which
Summers were boring and not-so-boring. Her family lived on the water, about fifty steps from the shore, a gift from her father to her mother. The sea wind always tickled her nose and ruffled her hair; kind of like the annoying little brother that she never had. You see, Lexie had expectations to be more than she wanted. Motherly and Fatherly expectations of the first born and eldest on each side of the family. There were always lofty ideas that she would be the “golden child” (which was a terrible title because she hated the color gold) and an example of how the younger children in her family should be. What this meant (much to her dissatisfaction no matter how much she complained) was endless speeches about things she didn’t want to listen to.
And thus, here she sat. The sun was bright and created little sparkles on the water, though, to be honest, she couldn’t see it from the backyard of her house. There was a white high rise fence around her parent’s property that kept the blue waters at bay and made the green grass a little greener. Luckily, the canal that lead to the ocean was just behind her. She thought, rather oddly, how it seemed to be like an itch she couldn’t scratch; so close yet so far. Her parents mingled among the guests in attendance, their smiles and gestures toward their only daughter indicating something of something. Lexie rose from her chair (she had gotten rather bored of sitting anyway) and languidly walked over to the refreshments table by the roses. They did look lovely this time of year and they also happened to be her favorite.
It’s silly to be thinking about roses when there are other things I could do, Lexie thought. How silly am I to be wondering about when I could be talking? Her parents would be quite disappointed if she didn’t at least talk about something. Then again, what could she talk about besides the color of the sky or how the water was dancing just around the corner? I can always talk about the clouds, she thought with a grin. People always see something funny in them, and how charming they would think I am to bring up such an uncommon topic! Lexie stood a little straighter and brushed off the invisible dust from the front of her outfit. She quickly looked up so she could choose a particular cloud to start the conversation on when she noticed something rather peculiar. Out of all of the puffy and rounded shapes one stood out from the corral of cumulonimbus. Its edges were sharper and pointer than its brothers and sisters, and Lexie squinted her eyes to make the shape clearer. For a moment she felt as if she was at the eye doctor’s trying to decode a letter on the board that felt miles away.
“An arrow?” she inquired a little too loudly and shied away from the curious gazes of the other adults in the area and looked back up. It was most definably an arrow and Lexie’s eyes shifted to follow the path it pointed to. Its tip was leading her toward the canal that sat just at the back of her house, at the edge of her backyard, where her parent’s red boat (it was called Her Majesty and for the amount of money her father put toward it Lexie figured it was probably cost as much as a castle anyway) and Lexie’s own jet ski that she called Greenie. She tip-toed over to the ledge of the canal and follow the arrow’s path.
There, sitting at the end of the canal and leading into the wide spread ocean, was the most beautiful and elegant swan that she had ever seen. He seemed quite large compared to some of the swans and other birds that flew around her home, and when he fluttered his wings they seemed to shimmer with different colors. Lexie’s eyes went wide. How interesting! She thought quickly and turned to go tell her mother about the spectacular bird but stopped on her toes. Mother would never believe me. Maybe I could ask the Swan to come to the party? I’m sure everyone would be interested in meeting him! And it was decided. Lexie would go out onto the water with Greenie and ask the Swan to come to the party. Quickly she hopped down the ladder and onto the floating dock where her water vehicle sat waiting.
It had dawned on her that both of her parents would be none-too-pleased about her taking a spin on her jet ski wearing her new sundress, but there would be no time to go all the way to her room and change as she was certain the Swan would fly away if she took her eyes off of him. The floating dock wobbled as she tried to find her footing, and the small waves disturbed the normally peaceful water below. Lexie gained her balance and giggled as she watched the silver fish gather at the edge of the dock. She always imagined them playing hide and seek with her or forming a protective bubble when she dove into the canal on the more humid summer afternoons. She wiggled her fingers at them to say hello before pushing her tiny boat into the water and climbing aboard.
Luckily the Swan was still in view, even through the sun was high in the air and its yellow fingers were bouncing wildly off the white caps of the waves causing her to shield her eyes from the glare. Lexie crept out of the waterway slowly even though she wanted to speed away and meet with the Swan (she was already breaking so many rules today and didn’t want to add another to her list). Her fingers were steady on the throttle, the engine stayed constant and the wake was small behind the little watercraft. The seaway was starting to grow wider and the water seemed to push the land away. It was freeing, Lexie thought, to not be bound to the hard concrete that never seemed to move. Here, at least, the waves twisted any which way they pleased. Lexie looked up to see if the Swan was still there. His back was facing her, his head turned backward to look at her and she could have sworn his beak turned up into a smile. Eventually he turned and flew off the surface in the water.
Thrilled and somewhat petrified that she would lose him, Lexie gunned the throttle and rocked out of the canal (truth be told, it would be somewhat silly if she went through all of this trouble and didn’t get to meet him; rules or not) and a large splash followed. The world opened up into a vast blue. Lexie squinted through the sprays of water, trying to keep her eyes forward and on the Swan. However, as she picked up speed the sea breeze and splashes kept getting in the way and the land peeled away to reveal nothing but water and white peaks. The jet ski coasted to a stop and the Swan disappeared into the clouds. “How am I supposed to speak to him now when I can’t find him?” Lexie asked no one in particular. The jet ski bobbed back and forth with the motion of the water as if it was trying to help her think. She laid back on the long seat (her parents thought it would be a good idea if she could take others for rides around the coast where Her Majesty couldn’t go and she thought it was a terrible idea) and looked up at the sky. Maybe the clouds could help again? Lexie squinted and tried to sharpen the rounded edges of the puffy cotton that floated above but it was of little use. They didn’t feel like helping now.
Splash! Little droplets of water rained down on her face from the left. Lexie turned over to see nothing but ripples. Splash! The back of her head suddenly was coated with little beads of moisture. She flopped back over, the ski quick and violent tilt almost making her fall off, to see two little otters poking their heads up through the surface. She smiled broadly (mainly because they were too adorable and never seen in these waters) and scooted over to the edge of Greenie just enough so she wouldn’t dive head first into the water. “Excuse me,” she asked the brothers (she thought they were brothers because they did look like it) “But have you seen a Swan land recently somewhere in these waters? I would like to ask him to come to our party. Oh!” she stopped suddenly. It would be quite rude to not invite them as well. And so she did. The two little creatures nodded emphatically and dove beneath the surface before popping up right in front. Lexie scrambled upwards and leaned over the bow of the little jet ski. Once again, they dipped below the surface and remerged a few feet ahead. They want me to go with them!
Lexie hit the gas and Greenie roared in excitement. One and Two (as she had named them because it would be rather silly not to have a name; how would she introduce them at the party after all?) dove again, but this time remained close to the surface so she could follow. Their slick coats glistened with water and color and they were like little beacons. They darted left and right, over large waves and Lexie gave a little scream of anticipation and joy as her tiny boat flew up and splashed down. (Unfortunately, she had lost the white sweater she was wearing over her sundress, but it did float delicately over the water as if it wanted to wear it. It didn’t matter.) The feel of the sea water sticking to her skin was matched only by the feel of the sea air whipping her hair away from her eyes. Greenie flew over the water top with such ease; each jump making the engine giggle and ask to do it again. One and Two played with Lexie for what seemed like quite a while and they swam and leapt out of the water beside her as Greenie darted forward and skimmed happily across the ocean top. She had almost forgotten about the Swan and just lived to enjoy this moment out in the sea. The land had faded away to a thin edge and Lexie found herself with such a wide smile on her face.
Without warning the white great clouds gave into a dark charcoal color as they began to clump together angrily and the water matched its intensity. Greenie swayed side to side, forward and back, with concerning lurches as if it was suggesting it was time to get back. Lexie's hair fluttered eagerly in the wind as sharp little droplets fell from the sky. One and Two looked at each other with wide eyes and dove back down into the safety of the ocean. Lexie was on her own. How strange that the weather changes so suddenly, she thought, it wasn’t on the weather this morning (Lexie had never really watched the weather in the morning but it sounded like this would be something that happened).
Then she heard it. Its growl rumbled and caused tremors and ripples through the water. Lexie looked around to see where the sound came from and fell back onto Greenie’s handlebars when she came into view from the spray of the ocean. The red color was undeniable and it stood out furiously against the dark blue of the water below her. The bow of the ship looked intimidating and Lexie almost swore that there were rows of dark teeth forming along the ship’s edges. Her Majesty was barreling toward her. Her parents! How could they have found her? She didn’t know where she was! This realization frightened her and she floated there, on Greenie, and stared wide-eyed at the approaching vessel.
Out of nowhere a flick of silver caught her eye and snapped her back into reality. She looked down to see the little silver fish from the floating dock clouding around Greenie’s base. Lexie looked back up to see Her Majesty gaining distance and back down at the little fish. If her parents got hold of her they would take Greenie away and scold her for being so thoughtless and losing her sweater. Not to mention the party would be ruined! She gulped and took hold of the handlebars. The water had rocked the jet ski so much that she had to shift her weight to keep steady. “Okay,” she said to the little fish. “Can you help me get home?” There was a swirl of silver like a hurricane and the little creatures came together to form two words: FOLLOW US. Lexie nodded and Greenie lurched forward. The fish twirled again and formed an arrow the curved to the left. Moments later the wake of the water indicated she was going with them.
Greenie shot forward along the waves with the puddle of silver fish forming continuous arrows for her to follow. Lexie looked back to see where the red ship was still coming at her; her hair flagged over her face and made her look through the clumps of sea tossed locks. Its massive engines were no match for Greenie and it would be only a matter of minutes before she would probably lose her head. She looked forward again and found the pattern of silver arrows that lead her through the waters. Greenie groaned and the rain began to fall harder from the storm clouds. Lexie felt the vibrations from Her Majesty intimidating roar echo through the water, up to the hull and into the handle bars. There wasn’t much time left. She had to make it back home before her parents. At least then she could out run them on land. The clouds began to swirl together; rain and salt water splashed against her skin and dripped into her eyes.
The fish sent another arrow that caused her to turn quickly that Greenie sent a large kickback of water (which was oddly and appropriately named a fishtail) that fell right onto her head soaking her hair. She the water soaked hair away from her eyes and kept going forward. The land started to come more into focus; engulfing the water with its sandy beaches. Lexie could see the canal where this little adventure started and there was a spark of hope that she might make it. Gusts of wind were making the waves intense as they wildly slapped against the jet ski’s base. Their white caps forming fingers as they tried to grab at her. Between the blustery water and the approaching doom behind her, Lexie wasn’t sure how she was going to make it home. The fish had vanished under the ocean waves.
Lexie’s stomach twisted into a knot. There was no clear way home. There was just no clear way anywhere! The fog had rolled onto the edges of the shorelines to block her view and the water churned with such severity that Greenie wailed as he tried to make it across the ever growing waves. The white fingers stretched to grab at her but Lexie was quick enough to dodge them. Right, left, over the waves and under some, Lexie guided the tiny watercraft through the maze of the sea. Her Majesty was gaining ground all too easily since she was able to barrel through the water compared to Greenie’s agile attempts to go around them. Eventually, the giant boat had caught up to her and Lexie turned to see a red hull just to her right. The assumption of the bow having teeth was correct. Her Majesty’s giant jaws snapped at her; their pointy edges glistening from salt and saliva. She jerked to the left to avoid being decapitated and veered to see a large white hand materializing from the choppy waters. Lexie turned to see if there was a way to escape behind her but the waves were too aggressive for Greenie and Her Majesty had already turned enough to block the only way out.
So Lexie gunned it. Right at the five fingered manifestation that was looking to drag her to the soft silt that lay below. She figured that Greenie had enough left in him to either go right through the center and barrel into the other ship behind her. Or at least she hoped. There was one way to find out. She stood up from the seat and leaned forward urging her little jet ski into their final push. You can do it, she told herself and Greenie. We can do it. Foot by foot the water and person came closer until all she saw was a white wall of sea water and wind. Lexie screamed and threw her hands over her face just before the two collided.
She blinked quickly as she felt the sun on her face. The blue sky had returned from its dreary gray (thank goodness because gray never invited a good time) and the billowy clouds were white and soft again. Lexie looked around to see her mother give her a questioning glance before turning it into a smile and going back to the party guests. Her toes wiggled in the grass and her shoulders and upper arms shivered at the cool wind passed by (was she wearing a sweater? She couldn’t remember). Lexie’s eyes lit up as she recalled something, or rather someone, and ran to the canal. Greenie sat there on his floating dock enjoying the company of the little silver fish as they played nearby. Her Majesty rocked side to side just steps away and a few party guests had made their way over to inspect her. It was as if nothing changed; nothing happened.
Lexie headed over to the ladder that lead down to Greenie’s dock but stopped just before stepping onto its rungs. There he sat floating in the water just a few feet away from her. The Swan’s wings opened up and fluttered quickly (flashing the colors she saw before) before he tucked them away and turned to look at Lexie.
His beak turned up into a smile…
…and Lexie smiled back.
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I love this story. I really do.
Your tagline, describing this narrative as "true and yet not so true", took my interest immediately, and what followed was an entertaining little adventure story with many of the trappings of a fairy tale. Very reminiscent of "Alice in Wonderland", which I believe was your intent.
In a genre that leans more and more toward dark and edgy it's refreshing to find writing that maintains an innocent charm, even as the climax builds, and scenes grow intense. Bravo! Seriously.
I'd be very interested in seeing a return to "Waterland".
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Thank you very much for the feedback, Mage! It was very nice to read the comment and I am very glad that you enjoyed the story. I think there might be a second adventure in store for Lexie in the future!
An awe-inspiring read and an impeccable exercise for the mind and eyes, I had a constant vivid image in my mind, the little green jet-ski, the rickety dock and the mighty red boat known as Her Majesty.
The story fits perfectly into the build, climax and resolve. There was a clear build as Lexie saw a sharp edged arrow in the sky and found a beautiful swan, it escalated again when she decided to go and talk to it. The story nears the climax as she races off with the otters and erupts when they disappear, racing through the hand and claw type waves Lexie eventually weaved her way to the resolve, a sunny blue sky with fluffy clouds gently drifting through it.
Definitely worth a second, third, fourth read! An amazing story and a lot of effort looks to be put into this, looking forward to more!
Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus~ H.P