Impossible Fathoms

By Melissa Stanziale

“It looks like a dried up snake,” said my seven-year-old brother William.

We stood on the thin, dreary strip of beach, staring at the straight, four-foot-long silvery object. I knelt down to examine it. It was smooth, cool, and odorless.

Was it the walking staff of a sorcerer, the scepter of a fairy king, or the detached tail of a dragon? Could it have been a means of escape from my mundane existence?

“We should return it to the lake. It’ll come back to life,” William said.

I indulged him. “All right.”

He hurled it into the lake. It floated, and then sank beneath a bubbling surface. We waited, but nothing happened.


A week passed and our parents, who spent most of their time arguing, suddenly loved each other again.

“I made a wish when I threw it into the water,” William said.

A day later we were surprised to find it washed up on the shore again.

“It had a reason to come back.” He lifted the snake carcass and flung it back into the water.

Another week passed and our lives changed again. We had always played alone, but suddenly we had more friends than we could count.

“Another wish?” I asked him.

“Yup,” he said with a smile.


One night I woke from inky dreams and William was gone. I ran to the lake and peered at the liquid darkness. I froze in horror when the snake stick sprang out of the water and flung William’s sneaker at me, hitting me hard in the chest.

I knew it had taken him. A screeching came from the lake. One end of the “stick” parted into a pair of lips framing two rows of sharp teeth. It hissed and dove back into the water.

Hot tears slid down my cheeks as I imagined William struggling with that grotesque tentacle wrapped around his ankle, dragging him down into the cold, tenebrous depths.

Angry, I entered the water and swam to the center of the lake. Something clammy brushed against my bare legs, then my sides, and then my arms, tightening like a belt around my torso. I thrashed in protest, splashing wildly in terror.

It pulled me down into the icy water. Once beneath the surface, my body adjusted to the inhospitable temperature. We drifted down further to impossible fathoms. The increasing depth lulled me. My feet drew together, then my arms clamped against my sides; my limbs fused into my torso.

I engaged in an undulant pattern of movement. The creature swam beside me. We are the same now, it seemed to say. We will be together for many ages and travel through all the world’s waters; none shall impede us. That promise thrilled me. It was a gift. How had it come to be?

I bolted to the surface and stuck my pointy head out of the water. William- drenched and exhausted-sat down on the beach, wearing one sneaker. I screeched to get his attention. He waved. I knew then that he had wished for me to be happy and I was; I truly was. At last.

Category: Fiction, Short Story, SNHU Creative Writing, SNHU online creative writing, SNHU Student