Prompt from terribleminds called “Twisted Love.”

“Yea but you don’t have a grandma!” A little boy with one front tooth shouted to the brown haired one sitting across from him. His shrill voice managed to travel over the raucous lunchroom chatter.

“Yes I do too!” The brown haired boy replied with an earnest face, sincerely attempting to convince all the boys at the table that he did in fact have a grandma.

“Yea, well what was her name?” Another inquired, looking down at the ground, unsure who to believe.

“Rusalka. She lives in the lake!” The brown haired boy was earnest still, even against the laughter of the other boys. “It’s true!”

“Then you must be a fish!” More laughter ensued.

“Tell us about her then.” A fourth boy with glasses smiled at the brown haired one.

“My Pap told me that it was like a bunch of years ago when he was cutting logs for the timber man. He was hiking with his big axe, like this big!” He spread his arms out as far as they could go. “And one day when he was hiking up by Shady Point lake he laid down to take a nap, he already cut like fifty trees that day…”

“Fifty trees!?” The toothless boy was skeptical but the brown-haired one assured him it was true.

“Yea, he used-to do like a hundred a day sometimes!”

The boys eyes were wide, the lunch room seemed quieter as they focused on his story.

“So he took a nap and when he woke up he saw seven ladies all around him. They had long black hair and had no clothes on.”

“Ewww” The boy with glasses proclaimed to a bout of laughter.

“They started singing to him,” the boy continued, “they sang a song that no one had ever heard before. But my Pap knew what to do, he knew that if he stood still and listened, they’d drag him into the lake and drown him!”

The boys oohed and awed.

“So my Pap took his finger and drew a cross in the mud, then he stood on it and none of the Rusalkas could drag him off. But he did something else too…”

The toothless boy asked what.

“He took off his cross, the one with St Peter on it, and he wrapped it around one of the Rusalka’s necks!”

“She had to live with him then, didn’t she?” The boy with glasses asked, half remembering the rules of the old stories.

“Yep” he continued, “Pap went home that day with the Rusalka and they lived together for years. They cooked and they cleaned together, they played games and sang. Pap said she could dance faster than a cat after a mouse! They even had a baby.”

More ewwws followed.

“But one day when they were walking by the river, my grandma told Pap that she missed her friends and her family in the lake. And he said it was that day that she kissed him and jumped in the river then swam to the lake to be with her friends and mom and dad.”

The boys thought for a moment in silence.

The toothless boy broke the silence. “My mom says your Pap drinks beers all day and steals the Sunday paper from her newsstand on the weekends.”

“I don’t care what your mom says, it’s not true.” The brown-haired boy pulled an oversized gold necklace out from under his hand-me-down polo shirt. “See this is the chain he used when he found my grandma.”

The boys leaned forward and grabbed it, feeling-out the intricate details on the cross.

The bell rang and the boys ran to their lines. The brown-haired boy tucked his grandpa’s necklace in as he walked. He felt a tug at his shoulder, a girl in his class looked back at him. Her name was Penelope and she had black hair that curled to her shoulders. Leaning in toward his ear she cupped her hand and whispered, “I believe you.”