Updated: Dec 30, 2021
The first time the selkie maid saw her, a creature clad in bright, reflective surfaces, a cold knife of fear pierced her gut.
As a pup, she was a curious thing; both an oddity and a creature filled to the brim and spilling over with curiosity. She often did not heed her mother's and aunts' words of caution regarding, well, anything.
When the wind was high and whipping the ocean into wild, crashing waves, her heart soared and she zipped through the foam, relishing nothing so much as the feeling of being completely untethered, free.
She stayed out long past dusk on particularly still nights to skip through the water and watch how the stars reflected on the surface of the sea.
She strayed too close to shark hunting grounds to catch a glimpse of the drawn, angry faces of great whites.
Worst of all, perhaps, was that when the pointy shapes of fisherman's boats growled through the water leaving strange smells and sounds in their wake, poles and lines piercing the sky, nets dragging through the water, she watched from afar with large, intelligent, dark eyes.
"Humans cannot be trusted," her mother said, lip curled in disgust.
"They'll covet you," her aunt said.
"They'll take what's yours and keep you captive, away from the ocean. Away from us. As long as they can," her elder sister said.
"Cara was taken," Eimeer, her best friend, said voice hoarse and heavy with fear and tears. "Seven years, Fiadh.* We won't see her for another seven years."
As the years dragged on, for a selkie's life is long, her curiosity never waned, instead, it grew into a gnawing, frustrating thing that urged her closer to danger, to the desire to learn more, know more. So, the day she found herself face-to-face with the very thing her loved ones warned her about came as a surprise to no one, least of all herself.