A Patch of Foggy Water

Submitted into Contest #98 in response to: Write a story involving a character who cannot return home.... view prompt


Historical Fiction Adventure Kids

Abigail pulled her needle through the fabric over and over, daydreaming of wading in the nearby river all the while.

“I’m done, Ma,” she finally said, holding up her crude embroidery. “May I please go with Pa to the river now?”

“Oh, all right,” Ma sighed and looked to Abigail’s sister, Dorothy. She was working on her embroidery, her blond hair tied up into a knot. Perfect as always. “Dorothy, go along too and make sure Abigail doesn’t get into any trouble.”

So the two girls set out for the muddy river banks. Abigail pulled her bonnet down when the river was in sight and let her hair fall from its braids. Mary frowned but didn’t say anything, glancing at Pa and his fishing setup just below them.

“Hello, girls!” He waved and pointed them to a shallow wading area. “You can wade over there. Don’t go too far in.”

Abigail and Dorothy nodded, climbing down the hill toward the river. Abigail lifted her skirt as she stumbled into the river. She let the minnows peck at her feet, not minding the pricks in her skin as she surveyed the grassy horizon.

Stepping forward, she noticed a small patch of water that was foggier and darker than the surrounding water.

“What’s that?” Abigail wondered aloud, taking another step forward.

“I don’t know,” Dorothy said. “But you probably shouldn’t-”

Abigail ignored her and planted her feet firmly into the water. A shiver crept up her back, and she had the strangest sensation of being dragged into an endless tunnel.


“Oh my God, who are you and what on earth are you wearing?”

“What?” Abigail sat up from a cold, hard floor. She was not in the creek anymore, not in the strange darkness. Instead, she was standing in a small white room, the recipient of a strange girl’s stare.

Abigail found the girl’s question odd. “What do you mean? You’re the one wearing trousers,” she said, wrinkling her nose at the sight of the black and purple pants. Her gaze traveled up to the girl’s strange black jacket and curly hair.

The girl gaped at her for a moment, then seemed to reconsider. “I’m not exactly sure why you went with the 1800s look, but this outfit critique is getting us nowhere.” She thrust out a hand. “McKayla.”

“I am Abigail. I live in the US Free Territory, and of course, I would wear the 1800s style, being that it’s 1837.”

McKayla took a step back. “You okay? I mean, it’s 2021, and we’re in LA.”

Abigail let out a small scream. “2021? How is such a year even possible?” Never mind the fact that she didn’t know what “LA” was, or that this entire world seemed impossible.

“I don’t know what’s going on,” McKayla said slowly. “But it’s definitely 2021.” She pulled a small black rectangle out of her pocket. A glowing picture appeared on the surface, and the time and date were written over that.

It was certainly the year 2021.

“I don’t understand,” Abigail said, mostly to herself. “There was strange water, then darkness, and now I’m here? How will I get home?"

A loud ringing echoed through the room, startling Abigail. McKayla ignored the noise and contemplated Abigail’s worried face.

“I believe you,” she decided. “But we need to figure out how to get you back home. You said that you got here through some… strange water?”

“Yes, the water was foggy and dark. There was just a little bit of it in the river by my house.”

“Well.. what if we found the same thing here?”

Abigail looked around. How could they find something she hadn't even known existed until today?

But she knew this was her only hope, her only way home. She had to try.

Abigail nodded. “Let’s look.”


“Okay, we’re in school, so be careful,” McKayla said as they exited the small white room. “Warning: it might look different than what you’re used to.”

Abigail peeked around the corner. A hallway stretched farther than anything she’d ever seen, with doors lining either side of it. It looked nothing like the one-room schoolhouse in Walnut Creek.

McKayla crept down the hallway, Abigail trailing behind her. The clacking of high heels echoed down the hall, and Mckayla froze.

A stern-looking woman turned into the hallway. Her tall form was cinched into a tight dress, and she held several folders to her chest.

“Oh no,” McKayla muttered.

“Miss Stewart! Have I not warned you about cutting class?” the woman said, peering down at McKayla through the glasses perched on her nose. Her gaze turned to Abigail. “And who’s your little friend?”

“Mrs. Ruthe, I was heading to the nurse,” McKayla protested. Abigail's eyebrows shot up. Telling a lie to a teacher! “And this is Abigail. She’s dressing up for, uh, history class.”

Abigail nodded, too afraid to speak.

“Well, Abigail, you better get to class,” Mrs. Ruthe said. “And Miss Stewart, may I ask why you’re going to the nurse?”

“Oh, stomachache,” McKayla keeled over, clutching her stomach. Abigail stared at her. “May I go?”

“Alright,” Mrs. Ruthe said, adjusting her folders. “Abigail, go with her. But go straight to class afterward.” She pointed a finger towards the office and watched for a moment as they headed off. Abigail heard the clacking of her heels again as she finally walked away.

When they reached the office, Abigail felt a tugging sensation. She followed the feeling towards a wooden door. As she reached for the door, a man pushed open it open, and Abigail darted out of sight with a gasp.

When the man was gone, Abigail called to McKayla, “I feel something.”

McKayla appeared by her side. “What?”

“I don’t know…” Abigail moved towards the door. “It’s a pulling... The water's in here.” She pointed at the door, suddenly sure of herself.

“That’s the teacher’s lounge,” McKayla whispered. “Be careful.”

Abigail nodded and opened the door to the “teacher’s lounge”, McKayla behind her. The tugging sensation led Abigail past a long wooden table and to a door marked “restroom”.

There was no one in the room behind the door, but an odd white stool-type device stood in a corner. A washbasin hung from the far wall, a mirror above it.

Abigail moved to the washbasin. It was empty, but two small handles were attached to it. She turned one hesitantly and jumped when water streamed out.

The water was dense and foggy, exactly like what she had seen in the river. Abigail dipped a hand into it, and a shiver traveled up her arm. She yanked her hand out of the liquid.

“Is that it?” McKayla whispered.

Abigail nodded. "I can go home now."

McKayla reached forward and pulled her into a hug. Abigail stiffened but allowed herself to hug McKayla back.

“Thanks for this adventure,” McKayla said.

“Thanks for helping me out,” Abigail said, letting go of McKayla.

She moved towards the washbasin. It was her path home, but she was hesitant. If this world, this travel, was real -- and she knew that it was -- she would question her own sanity for the rest of her life.

But she must go home. She put both her arms in the washbasin, and after one last glimpse of McKayla, she let the foggy water envelop her.


Abigail moved back and forth in her rocking chair, putting a hand to her heart. She could tell that she was nearing the end of her days, so she had advertised for a nurse. A young woman named May had applied.

The doorbell chimed. Abigail stood up and hobbled to the door. Opening it, she gasped.


May had a striking resemblance to a girl that Abigail had known long, long ago… Not in her purple pants and black jacket, but in her nose and eyes and mouth. Those features had been Abigail's last glimpse of the twenty-first century.

Abigail had never once told anyone about the event from her teenage years. Many times she even doubted it had actually happened.

But she always had a little place in her heart for McKayla and her time travel experience.

"That's me," May said.

Abigail stepped back and let May into her home, and into her heart.

June 16, 2021 01:33

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in the Reedsy Book Editor. 100% free.