So say you’re a selkie sliding your seal skin onto the beach at night so you can dance with your sister selves. You slip off your pelt and tuck it behind a rock and you look human—luminous, but just human. Then some walleyed fisherman, net slung to a shoulder, steals behind the rock and steals your skin. Your mother told you not to leave it lying around, but you wouldn’t listen, and so one moon-drunk night your fate is sealed. You have to follow him home. He’s got your skin.
You live as his wife on a cliff above the sea. Still, you never look out the brine-crusted window because your salt tears taste like loss. Your husband’s okay. He can’t keep the kids’ names straight, but he doesn’t bug you much. He is happy to sit and mend his net at the end of each day, knot space into place. And you tend the kids, comb their salt-stiff hair, Q-tip-clean their little webbed toes, but they know—you’re not like the other mommies.
So many years pass and when you finally discover the rusted trunk that hides your skin, you hesitate—will it fit? does it matter?—but when you put it on, it breathes, and you know you must say goodbye, though you won’t go far.
Your children come each day to the sea’s edge, scamper, wade. You know they celebrate your silky-wet whiskered self. But your fisherman says nothing at all as he sits on his stool and tends his net as if it were a second skin.