The Lake In Your Basement

She hears the water dripping, deep below, just at the edge of her senses. The rhythmic tapping of something that's not rain, not an unquiet faucet, down where there should only be silence and the low wooden sounds of the house rearranging.

If only she could stay asleep.

The door to the basement sticks, doesn't want to open, wood swollen by damp and grown willful with disuse, but she still makes it open.

Her force sends her stumbling down as it finally admits her, grasping for a railing which is no longer there, toes touching water–

But she catches herself, pulls herself back. The koalas on the tips of her fluffy socks look distinctly unhappy with the damp.

Water stretches out before her, shimmering darkly in the light seeping down the stairs behind her.

She sighs.

"Really, again? What's wrong this time?"

The water slops gently against the stairs.

"Look, if you're going to hide in here you could at least tell me why. And give me a chance to empty the basement out first."

The water ripples abashedly as a rubber duckie floats out of the darkness.

She picks it up, thoughtfully looks at its eyepatch and wide-brimmed hat, the scar on its wing and the worn away scribbles on its belly.

"Huh. I remember this one. Where did you find it?"

The water doesn't answer, but it does begin to recede, flowing away into some hidden depths. It leaves the basement perfectly dry, not a damp piece of paper out of place; as the last of it vanishes the lights flicker on.

She sits on the stairs, turning over the duckie.

It's a long time before she stands,

before she pads back to bed,

but when she does she carefully places the duckie on her nightstand, perfectly centered on a saucer, where it can watch over her sleep with its one good eye.

She doesn't try to squeeze it.

She can feel the water sloshing around inside, the fragment of the undine which it has left to be with her.

And as she finally slips back into dream, her last thought is to wonder why everyone is always so weird about flirting.