The nymphs are calling her from across the lake, their long fingers urging her to come closer, their sweet song filling her head; she knows the lake is too deep for her to walk across, but she doesn’t care. She wants to be beside them, touch their long silken hair, caress their smooth flawless skin, and kiss their luscious lips. As she gets closer something about the song they’re singing changes. She steps into the water, its warm surface breaking, cold water engulfing her legs as she continues toward them. The sweet sound in her head has become more melancholy. Low words are now mixed into the melody.
She’s not sure she wants to be with them, the words they sing are so sad and lonely. But her body continues to move, their hands continue to beckon her. Screeching sounds now edge their way into the background of their song; screeching and something else she can’t make out. The water is now at her waist and she can see their eyes more clearly; empty black circles sunken into perfect faces, lips curled up in smiles that hold no cheer. They were once nymphs of this lake, once creatures of beauty and elegance, now just watchers and more lonely than she can imagine.
Their nails are overgrown and sharp, their clothes tattered and dirty; they’ve been here for a long time without anyone to keep them company, without anyone to praise their beauty and shower them with affection. They’re withered creatures. The fear begins to set in but her legs keep moving. The water touches her chin and she instinctively holds her breath. Their song continues. The screeching intensifies. She opens her mouth to scream but water rushes in and silences her.
Adelaide wakes up in a cold sweat. Her sheets are wet, her body is shaking. She’s been dreaming of nymphs and other fantastical creatures for the past few months, each dream turning into a nightmare just as she is about to approach them. Every time it feels so real. Every time she wakes up covered in sweat and urine. The fear stays with her, fading gradually over the next few days until the next dream comes.
Her parents don’t know about her dreams. They know very little about her these days; it’s better this way. She’s terrified of what would happen if they knew; if she told them about her awful dreams, or about the two small hard nubs that have grown between her shoulder blades.