When Isaac jumped into the puddle, he had expected to hit the bottom of the puddle with a splash. Instead, he kept falling. The reflections lengthened, bleeding their colors down into the water as he fell past the edges of the puddle. The colors diffused, fading into lights and shadows.
The inside of the puddle was impossibly wide and deep. Isaac floated downward in a bubble that occasionally tossed him from side to side as it moved in an invisible current. Why wasn’t he floating up? Isaac looked up, expecting to see the outline of the puddle high above.
Instead, it was dark. He could see darker shapes dart around, but he couldn’t even really see their outlines. He looked down. Far below him, there was something glowing. Bright points of light appeared, danced around, and disappeared. Had he somehow managed to turn himself upside-down?
Isaac kicked his legs and waved his arms. He managed to turn himself sideways. He kicked and twisted until he rolled over and was facing the approaching glow. Something large swam between his bubble and the light.
Isaac looked around, feeling panicked. There was nowhere to hide. He couldn’t steer his bubble anywhere. Would the walls hold if something tried to eat him? They looked less substantial than a soap bubble. If only he’d managed to be stuck in a nice glass float instead.
Two smaller shapes followed the larger one. None of them seemed to see him. Was he invisible? Did the bubble camouflage him somehow? Maybe the big fishy things just weren’t hungry.
“But I don’t want to go to school,” one of the smaller shapes said as it glided past overhead.
“If Daddy is the king of the sea, can’t he cancel school?” the other asked.
They continued on their way, and Isaac was left to wonder who the king of the sea was. Sharks were pretty scary, but octopi were smarter and whales were bigger. They didn’t look like octopi though.
The bubble floated up and up. Isaac began to worry about what would happen when they reached the surface of the water. If the bubble popped, he might be left in the middle of the ocean somewhere, surrounded by sharks or hungry seagulls or sea monsters.
And yet, Isaac wasn’t really afraid. His last adventure had gone so well. Surely there wasn’t any real danger in being lost in a strange world. He might even be dreaming. He had been pretty sick.
So, when the glow came closer and closer, Isaac remained calm. And just before the bubble popped, he took a deep breath. Then he was surrounded by a bright light, and he couldn’t see for a moment.
He was floating on his back, surrounded by water that was suddenly very wet. His clothes were heavy, and they felt like they were dragging him down. Just as he was trying to kick off his shoes, three dolphins surfaced nearby.
Isaac turned and threw his arms around the largest dolphin. It squeaked.
“Children,” the dolphin said. “I am tangled up in something, but I don’t see anything.”
“There’s nothing there,” one of the smaller dolphins said.
“Let’s swim faster, and maybe it will fall off,” the other small dolphin said.
They swam fast, but Isaac did not let go. He could see a bump on the horizon that grew bigger, and bigger. It was an island. The dolphin swerved to swim around it.
Isaac let go and started to swim towards the island.
“It’s gone at last,” the mother dolphin said as they swam away. “Children, avoid that spot from now on.”
Soon, the water was shallow enough that Isaac could touch bottom with his toes. He walked the rest of the way to shore through the clear, salty water.