Now Eulalia had a secret. A secret that was, to her at least, a beautiful and wonderful and magical secret.

And alongside that secret, Eulalia had a wish.

Spring spoiled Bratislava with its gifts, its smells and sights and sounds of nature reawakened, along with the lifting of moods and surge in libido. As long as the mosquitoes could be avoided, it was a pleasant spring indeed. Flowers and romance blossomed, children played and were conceived, bicycles came out of hibernation, the city emptied out at weekends as mother nature received visitors en masse.

Eulalia enjoyed her job. She enjoyed also reading in the warm and fragrant outdoors. The spring helped keep her mood at a relatively even keel, though her life ticked by with its usual fill of daily trivialities and little in the way of surprises, pleasant or otherwise.

Her reading matter began to broaden, and she found herself picking up books she had hitherto tended to shy away from. Into her literary landscape wandered the characters and settings conjured up by H G Wells, Arthur Conan Doyle, Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe. And these two became joined by more modern scribes of the fantastical and bizarre – Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, Dean Koontz, Peter James.

But, though her mind retreated more regularly into previously unexplored realms of writers’ imaginations, though the characters and far reaches of her fantasies surpassed even the incident with the unspoken of and increasingly mythical fish, her wished for companion did not materialise into her earthbound world. Maybe there was simply nobody for her, maybe she was simply meant to be alone. And when the spring turned to summer and, like the weekend in its fleet unsatisfying stay, the summer slipped off into history and autumn once more fell upon the city, the chill that crept into the air made her tremble at the idea of facing another winter, another Christmas, with the last thing she wanted to receive – the fact of being, of staying, alone.

Eulalia had, in her quest to find the one, responded to and even placed an ad on a website to connect singles in the area. But so far it had not brought her any closer to finding the company she sought. Replies to her ad had been scant and those that had written were anything but the kind of men she sought with the kind of agenda that appealed to her. A friend of her mother had attempted matchmaking with her divorcee nephew, but the only thing he could talk about was the virtually subatomic details of a job that sounded as interesting to her as it was fathomable what he actually did for a living.

Eulalia went to the lake almost daily. She had not seen the magical fish on any other occasion, not even a vague glimmer of something that might be it. The sighting remained inexplicable. There was a mystery locked away inside her, as secure and private and invisible as the yearning she felt to share her life with someone with whom she felt she happily could.

It was on the coldest day since summer, a day when the twilight insinuated itself ahead of schedule, when the clouds appeared not to be made of water vapour but of tar, and fat globs of rainwater dropped like bullets onto the land, sending the locals scuttling for cover as surely as if there were actual bullets raining down on them, that it happened.

Eulalia saw the monster fish one more time.

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