The Arrow and its Mark (289 Words)
She leaned on her elbows. It was a warm bright day with a cool wind ghosting the tops of the trees.
The water was blue under the sky. For a long time Kat watched, seeing the shapes of minnows like vague small shadows below. But then she saw it. It was a silver flash, sudden as direct sunlight. It was visible only for a moment, a long gleaming tail following a vague human shape.
“Silver Fish,” said Kat under her breath. That was what they called him, the merman who lived in this stream with its little potholes and shallow rises. Perhaps a storm had carried him so far inland, away from the sea that was home to his kind. Whatever the cause, since he had been discovered the king had placed a bounty on the creature’s capture. The gold was more than Kat and her parents could earn in a lifetime. But the creature was clever, with a keen instinct for knowing when he was watched.
“One day,” she said quietly, “you will be mine.”
Her hand tightened on the bow she held. She was turning to go when she saw him. He was resting in the shallows, his long hair clinging to narrow shoulders, looking down across the fast-flowing water. He knew as well as anyone that he would never survive the journey to the sea. The cool wind blew against him and Kat saw him shiver.
She reached for an arrow. Her hand was shaking. She thought of her parents, of the poverty they lived in. She saw the merman in his own kind of misery and suffering.
Her hand dropped. She crossed the bridge with quick steps. When she turned back, the merman was gone.
Written in response to Sue Vincent’s Thursday Photo Prompt. Check it out!