Narcissa sat on the grass by the river, propped up on her arms, her legs outstretched. She closed her eyes and enjoyed the warm sunset.
Daffodils grew all along the riverbank. Most were white or yellow, but there were patches where all the flowers were colored like chestnut or wheat, which Narcissa had never seen before. She sat in one of the few green spots close to the water that hadn’t been covered by daffodils, and waited for Toby.
Narcissa inched toward the river and leaned over the edge. She saw her reflection in the fluid mirror, with freckled cheeks and wavy auburn hair.
The reflection grinned.
She leaned over the edge again, her heart racing. The reflection now looked like an older Narcissa, with deep wrinkles and streaks of silver hair.
Narcissa touched her own face. She moved her fingertips across her forehead, then traced the line around her mouth, nose to chin. The skin was smooth and tight.
The reflection slowly rose from the river, lifted by the water, immersed from the waist down. The top half now resembled an elderly, frail Narcissa, with deflated ashen cheeks sagging below the jawline. The wavy auburn mane gave way to a limp gray wisp.
Tall, the reflection arched toward the petrified girl.
A hand reached out to touch the side of Narcissa’s head…only to tear viciously into it, pulling out hair and ripping off flesh with its nails.
Leaving behind drops of fresh blood on the grass alongside bits of skin and hair, the reflection retracted back into the river, dragging the mauled girl along.
Toby arrived late. He waited for Narcissa until nightfall. As he was leaving, he noticed a patch of auburn daffodils by the river, and was overcome by sadness he could not place.
Originally published among entries to Zeroflash October Competition, 2017.
I wanted to try my hand at writing something scary and the Zeroflash October Competition inspired me. The theme was Halloween, but with a strong connection to nature, and they posted a video of a river as a prompt. I immediately thought of the myth of Narcissus (sans Echo) and the tale you have before you is a 300-word twist on that myth.