Lake Serenity

A story by Nicole Barry, age 12, Co Limerick

The night had blackened everything, stealing away all but a sliver of light that stubbornly clung to the edge of the horizon, a last desperate stand against the encroaching darkness. It would be in vain.

Fog veiled the dark wood, its tendrils wrapping around the ancient trees like ghostly fingers, obscuring the path ahead and masking any trace of what lay beyond.

A soft breeze parts the fog, the tendrils parting slowly to reveal more of the wood, when a figure emerged, a young boy who had ventured out into the wood. He moved cautiously, eyes darting from shadow to shadow as he walked through the weaving maze of trees.

The boy was young, his hair dishevelled from his hasty journey through the dense thicket. A light flush had started to spread on his cheeks from the cold, and his breath formed misty clouds in the frigid night air. He had a backpack which he held tightly to himself, clutching the small thing like a lifeline.


Sapphire eyes tracked the cloud of his own breath, watching it float up and disappear with a childlike curiously on his face.

As the boy ventured deeper into the wood, the fog got thinner, yet the wind more vigorous, clawing at his clothes and tossing his hair this way and that.

The bitter bite of wind cut through the fabric of his clothes, making him involuntarily shiver and wrap his arms around himself in a subconscious attempt to preserve heat.

He forced his way through the trees until he got to his desired destination; a small clearing smack down in the centre of the forest, a glistening lake being one of its only characteristics.

He skidded to a stop once he got to his destination, dropping his bag and sending stones skittering across the water’s surface

The moonlight danced on the surface of the lake, casting a gentle glow on the scene before him. A sigh left the boy at the scene, his lips forming a soft smile as he took in the mesmerising sight.

It was then that he noticed something glinting in the moonlight at the edge of the water. It was barely there; he had to squint to see what it was, when he did however, he broke out into a grin, running over to the far side of the lake.

He skidded to a stop once he got to his destination, dropping his bag and sending stones skittering across the water’s surface and disturbing its serene reflection.

The boy looked around for what he was looking for; he didn’t need to look long. A voice like a soft whisper on the wind called out to him, one he recognised.

“I wouldn’t have suspected you out here so late”, the voice said, its velvety tone echoing through the quiet of the night.

The boy didn’t look towards the direction of the voice, deciding to let the owner of said voice come to him in their own time. He took off his shoes and socks and sat down at the edge of the lake, letting his feet dip into the cold water. The end of his pants also unfortunately got wet; sticking to his ankles as he swung his legs around in the water, he spared it no mind as he answered the voice.

“I couldn’t really sleep, besides I wanted to see you.” He spoke softly, almost as if to himself. After a moment of silence, the figure emerged from the water, a head of brown curls popping up.

It was another boy; maybe two or three years older than the other, but that was not the part that stood out about him, far from it. What really stood out; was the fishtail that flapped gently in the water behind him. Aside from that, he had scales that looked almost like they were fading into his skin as they climbed from where the tail ended, fading completely before they even reached his mid-stomach, said scales were also circling his wrists and climbing up his arms in the same manner as the ones on his tail up to his elbows. His eyes were hooded and dark, they seemed to have a natural kohl-lined effect.

His gaze held a sense of mysterious depth, wild like a storm yet simultaneously calm like the beach waves, and with a sly smile, the merboy replied, “I couldn’t sleep either”. His voice was its own type of hypnotic, like the gentle ebb and flow of the tides. “But I’m glad you came.” He crossed his arms over the edge of the lake and rested his head against them, looking up at the boy.

The boy smiled down at him, enjoying the company the merboy provided. “Really? You missed me?” He sounded happy, hopeful even, that the merboy would want to spend time with him.

The merboy scrunched his nose in an emotion akin to disgust at the mere thought of missing someone, but then his expression softened a bit as he looked back at the boy’s expression.

He shook his head in exasperation and laid his head back down in his arms. “Only you Theo, only you.” The merboy muttered, immediately wishing he could take it back once he saw the smugness on the boy’s – Theo’s – face. Theo laughed, unable to contain his joy at having rattled the usually composed merboy.

Theo grinned, watching Adrian closely. ‘It’s a token of our friendship’, he said, his eyes shining with excitement and sincerity

“Die” the merboy said while Theo laughed, his lips twitching up against his will; betraying how he really felt. Theo laughed again, the sound echoing around the trees, his voice carrying far in the night wind. The merboy’s eyes sparkled with amusement, a glimmer of affection shining through his facade.

“Wow, Adrian. I see how it is.” Theo said in an amused voice, crossing his arms over his chest in an attempt to look stern. He failed miserably.

Adrian raised an unamused eyebrow at his failure, looking at his crossed arms and then back to his face as if to say “*really?*”

But a smile tugged at the corner of Adrian’s lips, giving away his true feelings despite his air of indifference. It seemed that no matter how much Adrian tried to hide it, the merboy seemed to care for this human.

Theo then had a look of realisation wash over his features, and he nearly jumped out of the lake as he remembered something. “Oh! I have something for you!” He exclaimed, the suddenness of it almost giving Adrian whiplash.

It was soon replaced with curiosity, however, as Adrian tilted his head. “You do?” He inquired, watching as Theo nodded and removed his feet from the water to get his bag which he dumped a few feet away. What felt like an eternity for Adrian passed before Theo retrieved a small, intricately carved shell necklace from within his bag.

He ran back over, all but throwing the necklace at Adrian, who barely managed to catch it. He fumbled with it for a moment, before getting a good grip on it and sending a confused look to Theo " ... what’s this?” He asked after a moment.

Theo grinned, watching Adrian closely. “It’s a token of our friendship”, he said, his eyes shining with excitement and sincerity. There was a long silence where the only thing that could be heard was the gentle swish of water and the rustle of leaves, and then; “it’s a what?” Adrian looked downright disgusted.

Theo rolled his eyes at his behaviour. “A token? For friendship? You guys don’t have that?”

“No. We don’t,” Adrian deadpans. Theo shrugged. “You should”, he said as if it was a fact of the world; the sky is blue, the grass is green and everyone should have a friendship token.

There was another long beat of silence before Theo spoke again, “If you don’t want it – ”

“I never said that”, Adrian interrupted, clutching the necklace to his chest protectively, to which Theo smirked in triumph.

Adrian sent him a glare in response, putting the necklace on; it looked perfect on him, the seashell clashing with the scales made it look like it was supposed to be there anyway.

They talked for a few more hours, until the sky started to change from black to blue, and the first rays of sun started to peak through the bushes. Theo frowned at the sight. “I should probably get going”, he says in a disappointed tone. “I second that”, Adrien replies, sighing as he realised the night was coming to an end.

Theo smiled at him, he slung his bag over his back and slipped his shoes on before running back through the forest, throwing a look over his shoulder to wave goodbye to the merboy.

Adrian rolled his eyes and disappeared beneath the waves, gone before Theo could even take another step. Theo turned to look where he was going and continued to run off.

The sun’s rays, immortal and undying, cascaded over the treetops, painting the earth in a warm light it had been deprived of for so long, it illuminated the lake, where two boys were there just moments before; yet they were long gone.