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The Monster of Draždiak

Neither the fish nor the phone were anywhere to be seen or found.

Eulalia tried again to tell her mother of what she had seen. This time her mother not only refused to listen, she screeched at her to stop with her nonsense, insisting she was bringing shame on their family, on her father’s memory. When she demanded to know if Eulalia would like to live the rest of her life back in a hospital, Eulalia ran out of the apartment. Upon her return, neither mother nor daughter would talk or even look each other in the eye for days.

With no camera evidence of her sighting, somehow Eulalia swallowed the story, locking it away in the depths hidden behind her aqueous eyes. So too did she withdraw into herself. At work she became more sullen, less helpful, less interactive with her colleagues. Her weight, already waifish, dropped further. Even her interest in books began to wane. She started to take the bus back to the apartment, privately vowing to return to the lake nevermore.

Then, one day, Eulalia made a stop at an art supplies store in Zidovska on her way home from work, not quite sure why, just acting on an impulse she could not grasp. There was little she felt she could grasp in life anymore, why should a call at a shop be any different?

Eulalia bought sketch pads, A3, A4 and A5 in size, 2B and HB pencils, a set of colouring pencils, a kneaded eraser. With the materials in a plastic bag, she rushed back homeward with more enthusiasm than she had made the journey in months.

Upon arriving, she ignored her mother, ignored the idea of eating, and instead rushed to her room, closing the door behind her. Brushing its contents onto the floor with a clatter, she cleared a space on her desk and immediately set to work. Thinking she had forgotten already the finer details of the fish, she soon tapped memory as if a flashbacking visionary, and she scribbled and sketched, sometimes erasing, sometimes adding colour, sometimes throwing her attempts dissatisfied upon the floor. With her tongue stuck out and her mind focused, she reproduced the image of the great fish over and over, head on, side views, views from atop, half submerged, fully afloat, close ups of its anatomy, some with near identical images recreated again and again.

In a fever of creative outpouring, by the time Eulalia got to sleep that night, at past 3 a.m., her room was covered in over forty drawings of the beast she believed she had seen.

Eulalia awoke at the usual time for work the following morning, at around five minutes in advance of her alarm. She did not feel tired from the night before, in fact she still felt restless and being eaten away by the desire to draw more. She even forewent breakfast, instead reviewing her drawings so far. One of them stood out to her above all the rest, one seemed to represent the image of the fish with the least deviation from the picture locked away in her mind’s eye. She decided to take this one with her to work, along with a half dozen pencils. She would work on it further during gaps between customers, hoping such gaps would be plentiful and long today.

Indeed the gaps were many, and Eulalia honed the picture for hours, bringing it further to life by degrees. Though she had drawn at an earlier age, she was astounded at how she had retained the ability. The drawing of the fish now appeared so extraordinarily realistic, it at a glance resembled a photograph. Never had she drawn with such skill before, of that she was certain.

The fish in the picture looked almost alive.

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