By DG Fitzgerald
“Five seconds?” Henrietta was incredulous. “What difference is that gonna make?!”
“You’ll never know, if you don’t give it a go.” Sophia stood in the middle of the knee-deep pool of water, hands outstretched. “Come on, humour me.”
Henrietta stepped back. “No way! It’s pointless a-and anyway, I already told you I’m not scared of water!”
“I know, I know. You’re a gnome fae, water doesn’t agree with you, you’ve said,” replied Sophia. “But there’s a lot of it around, Hen. You might as well learn to deal with it.”
“I do deal with it, by staying away from it!” argued the fae. The feathers along her arms and legs bristled and her yellow eyes glared at the water. “It’s a stupid idea anyway! F-Five seconds is a tiny amount of time! Hey, I see that look!”
“I didn’t say anything,” insisted Sophia, fighting to keep the smile off her face.
“You didn’t have to!” She thrust a finger at her. “You make one crack about me being small and I’ll-!”
“No cracks being made here, I promise.” Sophia held up her hands defensively. “Look, if it really won’t make any difference, why not prove it? Five seconds. You’re in and you’re out. I’ll be right here with you.”
Henrietta scoffed. “That supposed to make me feel better?”
“It means you can rub it in my face afterward, whatever happens.” Sophia put on a smile. “Come on, sis. Show me what you’ve got.”
Henrietta’s clawed feet scratched at the ground. What was she even doing here? She could just go. Sophia couldn’t stop her, couldn’t make her. So what if she’d promised to tackle this fear with her (which it wasn’t!). She could change her mind if she wanted to and Sophia would have to deal with it.
But even now, with her back turned, she could feel her Witch-sister’s eyes. It was those eyes she kept her attention on as, very slowly, she took shaking steps to the water.
Just don’t look at it. She reached for Sophia’s hands and grasped them. Screwing her eyes shut, she plunged her feet into the pool.
It was so cold! Her feet touched the bottom, but she could feel it soaking her feathers.
She tried not to shiver, gripped Sophia’s hands tight as she could. She wasn’t scared, she wasn’t, she wasn’t.
The cold felt like it was seeping into her. She fought the urge to run from it, keep her feet planted.
She dared to open her eyes, just a fraction. There were her feet, on the rocky bottom of the pool. The way the surface made them shimmer, it was almost… nice.
“Okay, that’s it,” said Sophia. “Hey, that was great! You did it! Come on, let’s get you out and dry.”
“Wait.” Henrietta gulped and looked up. “Maybe… just a few more seconds?”
Sophia only smiled. “Okay. What’s a little longer, right?”
DG Fitzgerald is a self-published author with autism, an uncanny memory for quotes and too much of an interest in the history of the plague. Born too late to take on the profession of plague doctor, he comforts himself with the fantasy works inspired by this history: the Abigail and Caurinus series. He also loves diving into whatever subject takes his interest and will happily talk your ear off about it, if you're willing to listen (and even then, he'll probably do it anyway).
You can find his work online.