Fantasticoe -- Fall 2011
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A Strange Day
by Jen Simmons

    I remember the day everything changed as if it were yesterday.  Although it happened almost twenty-seven years ago, I can still smell the warm summer air and hear the waves of a nearby beach crashing onto the shore. It was July 15th, 1982.  You may wonder what was so special about that day.  It was the day my mother got remarried. My father had left us three years before when I was only six. My brother, Marshall, was eight at the time, and I did not like the man our mother was marrying.  There was nothing wrong with him; he had always been generous to us. We did not want anyone to take the place of our father. It was the day that my life changed indefinitely, but not because of this marriage.

    The wedding reception had just begun.  Everyone was outside under the large tent.  Men wore their best tuxes, all in black.  It made it seem like someone had just died. 

    “Now you two just stay here, you can get some food from the snack table if you’d like, but do not disrupt anything!” my Aunt Josey told us sternly.

     At first my mind wandered.  I was entertained watching all the beautiful ladies being spun across the dance floor in elegant dresses.  My favorite was the dress of my mother.  The dress was long and white.  Lacey material with a burgundy tine was wrapped around her torso.  She looked gorgeous that day.  Her blonde hair was twisted into a bun on the back of her head filled with small white flowers.  The veil was connected to her hair in the bun, and it flowed down to the middle of her back.

    The sun had begun to set and it reflected off the nearby lake.  My brother and I slowly became bored over the past hours and attempted to sneak away.  We headed towards the long table filled with refreshments, slipped under the table cloth, and out of the tent. We ran for what seemed like forever until we finally began to slow down as we neared the lake.  The smell of the water had grown stronger and the sun had almost disappeared behind the distant hills.  It blew through the tall grass and leaves as if it was trying to speak to us. I wanted to sit down, but I knew my mother would be furious if I got my perfectly white dress dirty.  The only color on it was the burgundy band around my waist that matched hers.  I knew she would have known we snuck away if I got my dress dirty, little did I know, she would find out anyways.

    The lake was beautiful. The water was a clear perfect blue. We could see everything! Underneath the lake we could see fish swimming, darting back and forth.  For a moment, Marshall thought he saw a mermaid but I convinced him that there was no such thing as mermaids. As we watched the fish swim, I began to see things. I was seeing mermaids, too.

    “Marshall look! I see the mermaids too!”

    They looked so kind! Their skin had a greenish tint. Their long fins sparkled. There were at least seven of them, each on unique. I could see every color of the rainbow right there in their fins. I closed my eyes, shook my head, thought to myself, “One, this is so cool! Two, this isn’t real. Three, deep breathe. Four, Five shoot! I forgot the Mississippi. Six Mississppi. Seven Mississippi, Eight Mississippi, Nine Mississippi, Ten Mississippi.” I snapped my eyes open.  The mermaids where gone. I had only been seeing things. It’d been a long day and I was exhausted. Disappointment consumed me and I turned towards my brother.

    Marshall was tired of watching fish. He began combing the shore for the smoothest rocks. On a recent vacation, he had learned to skip stones. He found ten decent rocks and gave me five. I was no good at skipping rocks, I found it really boring. I casually threw the first stone, it didn’t skip once. I watched it sink to the bottom of the lake.  Marshall then threw two in a row. The first skipped four times and the second sunk to the bottom of the lake. Not wanting to skip my last four, I tossed them all in at once to see how big of a splash I could make.

    The ripples my stones created were huge. They seemed to go on for longer than they should. Marshall, of course, did not notice this. I thought it was strange but didn’t think anything of it. He then skipped his third rock. It bounced a few times then sunk to the bottom of the lake like the rest. Marshall’s final stone was beautiful.

    “I saved the best for last!” he said while he ran his little fingers over the smooth stone.

    I can remember the exact way he said it; his innocent voice, the way he looked in his suit, the way his grin was crooked,  the dimples in his cheeks, his dirty blonde hair hanging in his eyes. As his finger ran over the rock, it seemed to sparkle. There was something so unique about that simple stone.

    I watched the stone fly from his hand. It skipped not once or twice, but ten times. After the tenth bounce we stared in awe. It did not sink to the bottom of the lake like the other nine rocks had. This perfect rock slowly lifted into the air. It was suspended four feet above the surface of the water.  A few seconds later it began to glow.  The eerie green color began to spread rapidly. 

    What happened next I’ve never been able to truly expound.  This is mostly because I, the only witness, have no idea what happened. The stone suddenly exploded. The eerie green light was so bright I did nothing but shield my eyes. The shock of the explosion had knocked me backwards. The next thing I remember was waking up in the arms of my crying mother. My white dress was now covered in filth; my mother’s veil had fallen out of her hair. Tears were streaming down her beautiful face.  People were searching everywhere for Marshall. The search lasted all day, and then it lasted for weeks. Those weeks turned into months. Those long months finally turned into a year. After a year of searching, my mother called the search off. She didn’t want the pain of disappointment any longer.