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Selkie's Skin

Page history last edited by teatime 13 years, 3 months ago

     The sea was warm and exceptionally calm that night.  Seilana remembered that very well.  A slow current swirled and eddied where she was, within sight of the shore.  Eyes that had been bright had been dulled and reddened with tears, but the eyes of a Northern Fur Seal retained clear sight.  Though anyone on the shore would have said that the drifting seal was relaxed or dead, she was not.  Not dead yet, no, no, she still lived.  And her stillness was a cloak, to hide the fear that pulsed through her from any watchers.  Her two guides were not fooled, however.  They had seen many seals like this, who stilled when fearful, who struggled with their memories and instincts.  One was bored, but the other was curious.  He had never seen a Northern seal before, and none of the elders had ever seen a Fur seal.  This refugee was unlike any he had seen before.  Her pelt was a deep brown, with a streak of black-grey diagonally across her back.  Though smaller than him, she was well-built, and strong looking.  But it was her eyes that truly fascinated him.  They were a deep gold, deeper than amber, and would have been soft if horror and grief had not hardened them prematurely.  Then suddenly the mysterious one submerged and made for the shore quickly.  They followed her at a slower pace, calmly now that they knew their charge would not balk or flee. 


     They reached the shore and waddled up the breakers.  As they left the shore their skins peeled off slowly, then completely as they stood upright.  Now two men and a woman stood on the shore, each holding a sealskin in their hands.  The newcomer was dressed in a crude seaweed tunic past her knees, and barefoot.   The others, her guards and the figures already on the shore wore tunics and leggings or trousers made of plain brown cloth, and all but a few wore boots.  One stepped forward with his palm out, his bottomless brown eyes seeking to reassure her.  They did not.  By now Seilana knew how easy it was for others to lie with sympathetic eyes and peaceful signs. 


     “What is your name?”


     She said nothing at first, but in the back of her mind she knew that to survive she would have to trust these strangers.  “Seilana, last of the Eastern Northerners.”


     He stayed still watching her.  “The last?”


     Her head bowed.  “Yes.”  The memories were still too fresh for anything else to be said.  Her throat had swelled up again, and she would not cry.  Not in front of the thirty odd watching her. 


     One of the women, with sea-green eyes and jet-black hair, stepped forward.  Her features showed she was not originally from the bay, and a dull fire in her eyes marked her as a refugee.  Abruptly she asked, “How many families in your tribe?”  There were murmurs in the crowd, who thought the question lacked tact.  It did, but she did not mind.  How else could the damage be described?


     “Two, counting mine.  And a few loners.”


     “Ah.  Good.  Only a small loss. ”  More murmurs from the spectators, who definitely thought the response thoughtless.  A few, the ones nearest the woman, approved.  Some did not even try to hide the mingled relief they clearly felt.


     Seilana’s chin rose along with her hackles.  That response, the hate in those sea-green eyes, was something she had ever seen before.  They were abnormal.  Whatever  had happened to the woman and her friends it had changed them on a deep level.                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

     That first night should have warned Seilana about green-eyed Tonaga.  If it had, if she had remained on her guard, things would have been very different. 


     Months passed, like sand through a broken hourglass.  Seilana had been accepted into the selkie tribe, with a native grey seal for a guardian.  Habago was a soft, motherly person, who often served as a foster guardian for the new seals.  Her eyes were an even brown, and they fascinated her.  They were like pools, but they seemed to shine with warmth.  It looked like behind the liquid brown covering someone had lit a candle.  More refugees turned up every day.  Seilana’s heart ached more and more as time went by, when she saw how many others were forced out of their patches of sea.  For every survivor, there were ten grey shadows of those who did not.  Red waters and dying cries haunted her dreams.  In daytime, she was strong.  Most of the selkies thought her brave, and cold.  In the daytime she put up a firm front, to conceal her pain, and guard against hurt.  But at night, there was no one to pretend for. 


            At the same time another girl dreamt of reddened ice and frozen blood.  She was also from the north, also from the arctic seas, also fleeing the death of her tribe and destruction of her home.  Irony is a funny thing, for while all this was true the girl was from the Saeilise tribe.  The tribe of seal hunters.      

Comments (1)

Volkes_Wagon said

at 6:53 pm on Feb 15, 2011

ahhhh i love selkies~~~ !!!! <3 first heard of them in Cricket magazine and Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name online comic. dang. Lasts are common...might wanna be careful about that. though i'm not really one to talk (almost all my South main characters are the last of their tribe...)
word of advice. big blocks of description in the opening paragraph turn off readers. it's something journalists pound into our heads again and again. chop them up, or mix them with stuff other than description--basically it's a tough life trying to suck readers in. work on it.

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