The pond by the house you grew up in was always your safe place as a child. Whenever you became sad, you would run down the forest path and then through the trees to the untouched water. You would curl up by the edge, watching the dragonflies as they danced about, the frogs singing their songs as they relaxed, not having to think about lessons or making friends. There, you liked to pretend that you didn't have to think about those things either. All you had to worry about was your legs beginning to cramp as you stayed still for so long. You were entranced by that place, a little world all your own. Or at least, you had thought it was only yours.
You could still remember the first day the water lilies moved. You had gone to cry after your parents had scolded you over something. You sat by the water as usual, the ground around you becoming as tear stained as your shirt, when you suddenly noticed something moving in the water. You were used to the lilies swaying, sometimes even lazily floating around, but this one was going against the water, moving towards you. You watched it grow closer and closer, until finally it touched the shore. You hesitantly moved forward to pick it up, and as you did so, you saw a dark shadow beneath the water quickly disappear. You sat back, cradling the lovely lily in your hands. It held every petal and looked pristine, making you gaze at it with wonder, your tears forgotten. When you returned home, you asked your parents about how to keep flowers, and they showed you how to press them, so you could keep them for a very long time.
You continued to go, a lovely water lily washing ashore every time you cried. Each time, you only saw a glimpse of a dark shadow before it went away. Eventually, you could not contain your curiosity. One day, you went to the water and curled up, pretending to cry as you kept an eye out. You waited and waited until the lily was close to shore before you suddenly lunged forward, your hand grasping the wrist of someone below the surface of the water. You laughed, paying no attention to how soaked the knees of your pants were becoming as you held on.
Whomever you had a hold on was still, as if they thought they could pretend to not be alive, you would let go. You giggle.
"Come on, I want to see you!"
You wanted to know what they looked like, the person who sent you lilies whenever you were sad.
After some time more, the water began to ripple and the top of a head slowly appeared. Their skin was the color of moss and their hair remind you of the plants that grew at the bottom of the pond. Their eyes were completely black as they stared at you, eyelids flitting open and close from the sides rather than the top and bottom. You smiled.
"It's nice to meet you!"
You let go of their wrist, only to take a hold of their hand shaking it energetically. Finally, you asked what you had wanted to ask for so long.
"Will you be my friend?"
Their head turned away, but eventually they nodded. You let out an excited noise before falling into the water, hugging them. Their entire body felt just as slippery as their hand had been and almost as cold as the water surrounding you. Your legs brushed against something big and covered in scales and you looked down to see the distorted image of a tail beneath the waters, moving back and forth. Your eyes grew somehow even larger with wonder as you realized just how special your new friend was.
You didn't leave the water until you were taken to the shore, lightly pushed onto the small, sandy edge. You let your feet splash a bit in the water as you talked and talked, telling your silent companion about your life and your interests, your hands waving around as you spoke. Before you had realized it, the sky was red and the sun was setting. You reluctantly waved good bye for running home, already unable to wait for the next day.
You spent even more time by the pond now, talking as your friend lazed by the water edge, their head resting upon their crossed arms as they stared at you. You once tried to get them to speak, but they simply shook their head, revealing a mouth of sharp teeth and no tongue. In your youth, you had been completely confident that they liked listening to you speak. They were always there when you came, after all.
You thought those days would last forever, those moments in the world that held only the two of you.
But the larger world had different plans. In middle school, you family moved away, and your memories of the pond and your strange friend faded, becoming something that you convinced yourself you had imagined. You made friends, you laughed, you cried, you had a life, one that no longer held lilies or dark eyes.
Years later, your parents bought the old house back, a familiar and peaceful place for them to settle and retire in. You helped them move back in, your mind distracted. You were trying to stay smiling so as not to worry those around you, but you could not keep from thinking about the recent death of a beloved pet.
You were wandering the house after finishing moving the boxes in, when you went into what had been your old room, dusty and mostly untouched since the house had never sold in all those years. You looked around, your hands moving across the little markings you had engraved into the walls at places, remembering a happier and simpler time.
As you neared the closet, you noticed something sticking out from the high shelf. You reached up to get it, only to find your book of lilies. Your fingers brushed across the petals, the distant sound of childish laughter floating through your mind. You took the book and went outside, down the path and through the trees, to the pond that was still the same.
You sat by the water, curling up. You waited, but no one came. You had thought that would be the case, but you were still a little saddened to realize that your dear friend had merely been your imagination after all.
You took the time to let your tears fall, finally mourning the pet you had been too busy to properly feel cry about before. You let your voice out, knowing no one at the house would hear.
It was through blurry eyes that you noticed the lily moving. It came steadily forwards towards the shore and you stilled, watching with wide eyes as it came upon the sandy shore, a familiar face soon poking up through the water. They dragged themselves a bit onto the ground and you could clearly see them. They had grown and changed, just as you had. Yet when they gave you that familiar toothy smile, it felt like everything was still the same, like you were still just a child with your special friend. You wiped the tears from your eyes, smiling as you placed your hand over theirs, familiar excitement washing over you as you began to tell them everything that had happened since last time. You had finally returned to where you were meant to be.