The lake waves lapped at the shore of the island, making the stones on the pebble beach wet. Against a stone grey sky, the dark castle rose up, the towers almost disappearing into the clouds.
The children had been looking for a boat or another way to get across the lake to the castle but they hadn’t found anything. Dipping their bare feet into the cold water, they thought about swimming across.
The oldest three would have no problems, even though it would take them almost an hour to make it. The middle two would have struggled but with help they could have done it. The youngest one though – only seven years old, could not have done it and since none of them wanted to stay behind, swimming was ruled out.
As the boys skipped stones, the girls looked at the castle on the island and wondered what could be in there. A sleeping princess? A handsome knight? Perhaps, treasure guarded by a dragon?
‘There’s nothing in there,’ the oldest boy announced, ‘I went in there last summer and it’s empty.’
The imagination bubble popped, the girls stopped daydream and debated what to do next. The youngest was hungry and wanted to go home, her brother didn’t want to as the boys were building a den in the woods. The girls not interested in this, decided to pick wild fruit and nuts.
By the time they all meet on the lake shore again a faint drizzle had started. They looked over at the castle but could barely see it in the dim light and low clouds which had come down like fog. It seemed the castle had become ghost like with just a faint outline left behind.
‘We should go,’ the oldest girl spoke.
‘Fine, take my sister with you. We are going to swim across and spend the night in the castle,’ the oldest boy replied.
‘That’s not a good idea.’
The oldest boy shrugged, ‘I’ve done it before.’
‘And what if….’ the oldest girl trailed off.
‘You are all chickens!’ one of the other boys shouted.
A brief argument started then the girls stormed off and left three boys to swim across the lake.
Days later, police entered the castle looking for the missing boys. Inside, just as the oldest boy had claimed, the castle was empty. The police searched the lake and the woods but the boys were never seen again.
(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/07/11/thursday-photo-prompt-castle-writephoto/ with thanks).