| “Move over into the water,” Liam said, looking at Leah through the camera viewfinder.
“You’re not the one who would have to walk home in wet jeans,” she replied, crossing her arms. “Why don’t you move into the forest some and get me standing in front of the water or something?”
Liam rolled his eyes. “It wouldn’t look right,” he complained. “I need you, and I mean need you, to stand in the water.” He waded in the water. “I’ll be in the water too!”
Leah glared at him. “I don’t want to walk home in wet skinny jeans.”
“Please,” Liam pleaded. He waded back out and hugged her. “Leah, I need this picture,” he breathed.
Leah rolled her eyes and pushed him away. “Fine,” she sighed, slowly wading in. “It feels so weird.” She wrinkled her nose.
Liam chuckled and snapped a picture. “Can you stand over… here?” He moved her over into a relatively shallow point by the bank. “The waterfall…”
Leah gripped her scarf. “It’s cold,” she complained.
Liam quickly snapped another picture. “One more,” he said, wading a bit deeper. The water lapped around his knees.
“It’s getting dark,” Leah complained. “And it’s starting to rain.”
Liam squinted up at the darkening sky. “We have a flashlight,” he said, waving it away. “Walking home wet won’t be too bad.” He grinned. “And since we’re going to be wet by the time we get home, you can go ahead and wade out here with me.”
Leah sighed in compliance. “One more,” she said. “Then we’re going home.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Liam said, pulling her in deeper. “Waist deep,” he said.
Leah shook her head. “No thanks.”
“It’ll make a great picture!”
Leah muttered some words that can’t be repeated. “Whatever,” she growled, wading in. She pulled her scarf up so it wouldn’t get wet.
“You know what they say about this spring?” Liam said.
“Mom and dad have told us this story a thousand and one times,” Leah groaned.
“Mind telling it to the camera?” Liam asked, turning video on. “You know, in case we die.”
Leah sighed. “This spring is guarded by a water nymph, called Pagaeae.” She waded a bit deeper, water lapping at her stomach. “She drowns whoever she feels is mocking her, or hurting her spring.” It started raining, but Leah kept talking. “Some say she lures people in with her voice, some people say she gets into your mind and makes you go into the water.” The water was starting to get turbulent. “Some say she doesn’t exist.” Leah smiled. “But their usually the next ones to disappear.”
Liam turned the camera off. “Leah, come on back,” he called. “It’s getting pretty bad.”
“I thought you wanted pictures!” Leah yelled over the wind, suddenly almost angry. He dragged her out here, he’s going to get his pictures.
Liam frowned, getting scared. “Leah, the storm is coming fast!” he shouted. “Come on!” He waded back inland, the rain pelting him. “Come on!”
Leah started to follow but was jerked back. “Liam!” she screamed.
Liam dropped the camera and raced back into the water. “Leah, swim!” he shouted, trying to get to her.
She’ll be alright.
Liam stopped, his mind fogging up.
Leah screamed again. “Liam!”
Liam looked towards her, another whisper floating through his mind. She knows how to swim. “Come on, swim,” he said, the water lapping at his waist. Yeah, she’ll be okay.
Come and swim with me, Leah. A whisper, clearly audible through the wind.
Leah turned around. “Come and swim,” she said, her words lost with the storm. “Take a dive…”
Liam turned and waded back inland, turning around to snap another picture of his sister. His eyes widened slightly, vaguely registering what he was seeing. Turning quickly, he walked back home, shivering for more than one reason.
Nobody knows what happened to Leah. They never found her body. Most say it was a suicide. Then others, like Liam, insist it was Pagaeae.
That picture? Liam never showed it to anybody. He said it was too personal.
Only, he knows he didn’t take a picture of his sister, not really.
He took a picture of Pagaeae.