Nessie had been old when Margaret was young, and Margaret felt her age in every joint as she sat by the loch, watching the sun set in a blaze of red and orange. She dipped her toes in the cold water, waited, and tried not to think about dying. She wondered if this would be the year when the monster didn’t come. She imagined the ancient body finally giving up and sinking into the depths of the loch, to vanish completely into the halls of cryptozoology.
Her thoughts were interrupted by a faint sound from the water, and when she looked up, there was Nessie. Margaret waded into the water and placed her hand on the long, smooth neck. The monster blinked its sad brown eyes at her. Margaret’s heart broke a little when she looked into those eyes. So much loneliness. How did it find the strength to keep on going day after day? She knew that it couldn’t be the same fear of death that kept her moving. There wasn’t any fear in those eyes.
"I won’t be here next year," Margaret said. "My granddaughter will come, though. I think. She’s a good girl. Not too sensible. Not like her mother."
The monster’s nostrils flared as it puffed air against her cheek.
Margaret wrapped her arms around the monster’s neck. She felt the fear drain out of her. She couldn’t remember the last time she hadn’t felt afraid. "Take me with you," she whispered.
Nessie started to swim away from the shore, and Margaret kept her arms wrapped around the monster’s neck. She squeezed her eyes closed as Nessie started to dive, and didn’t open them again.