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December 2, 2008 by · 1 comment

Katherine Van Hook Gulley

Photo: kevinkrejci

It was at the height of the Renaissance period, when the Kings of the earth fought to control all the borders around them.

In a castle high above the sea, among the rolling black hills lived a man. He was alone, as he had chosen to be most of his life. Only on occasion would old friends, from a life long ago, cross the marshes on horseback and climb the black hills to visit.

It had been a fortnight since he had heard that sound from the sea. As the tide washed sober on the moonlit bay, he would stand at his window and wait for the sound.

The dense fog masked the beach below, and moonlight in her silver glow was not enough to penetrate.

He pushed back the heavy drapes and clasped them in place to protect his view in spite of this.

He was a patient man. A fortnight was not so long he told himself, knowing that he would wait no matter how long.

And then it came. The low and fetching moan from the sea. Was it calling him, how did it know the language of his heart?

He swallowed hard what was left of his spirits and raised his glass to the sea.
Tonight, he whispered to himself, for he was quite alone.

The air was chilled as he made his way to the beach. With only a lantern to light the way his steps were sure and perfect.

The dancing glow played tricks on his eyes, creating eerie shadows in the distance.

A small tree had fallen near the beach, its leaves withered but its body still stout. He scooped it up with one strong hand and placed his foot upon the root, severing and discarding it.

The sound again, stronger, more alarming, was calling him again.
He gathered his wrap around him, blocking out the driving wind from the shore.

Again the light danced and flickered and in the brush he saw it.
Slick and gray, nearly black in moonlight, it began to sing.

The sound compelled him further, yet he hesitated. Bracing himself upon the broken tree, he fought to calm the beat of his heart, which now had become deafening.

And then, was it a play of imagination, the flickering shadows of the lantern light?

It seemed to peel its skin, a cocoon of sorts. And the shinny coat fell to the ground.
Unaware that he was watching, she laid her seal coat to the sandy ground and glided toward the sea.
He stood shaking, half in fear of what he had seen and half in desire.

Her dark hair rose like wings in the strong sea wind as she dove into the water.
Quickly he made his way to the shore and took the coat into his hands.

He pressed it to his face and felt its softness. It smelled of beauty and desire and he felt weak from its power.

Again the sound cried from the sea and she rose from the foamy waves.
Her pale skin, milky in silver moonlight, mesmerized him.

“You have captured my coat”, she stated.

There was no emotion in her voice, only a strange resonance like rushing water.
He could not speak, but he understood. A selkie of the sea caught without her seal skin must become the slave of the man who has taken it.

He raised his eyes to hers, a fiery green ice.

“You may wear my coat,” he offered handing it to her, “but yours I cannot return”.

Her emerald eyes showed no emotion, as she considered her new master.

“I am alone in this castle, you see,” he pointed one hand up the hill to the visible tower above. “And I have heard your night call”.

“It has both alarmed and drawn me to you. Can you not understand? I cannot let you go. I must smell your perfume; touch your skin, your hair. I must have you, as you now know. You belong to me”.

Her pink nipples peaked with the cool air as she stood in his wrap which was still open, and the sea wind rushed over her body, as he desired to do himself.

Back inside the castle walls the selkie grew quiet and demure. She seemed undaunted by her circumstance. A short time ago she was singing to the god of the sea, free and happy, now she sat quietly in a corner with her knees tucked beneath her chin.

In her hand she stroked as drying thread of sea weed as if it were the finest silk of China. Her green eyes glowed in the fire light and the man wished he could gaze into them to learn all the secrets of the dark sea that had been her home.

For hours she neither spoke nor moved, prey or predictor could not have exerted such patients to simple wait.

With the coat securely hidden, the man laid down his head to sleep, never moving his gaze from her soft white skin.

Speaking softly as so not to frighten her, the man began, “You may speak to me, Selkie. You need not be afraid”.

“I am not afraid,” the selkie pushed back her hair from her face with her small hand and it came to rest upon her knee.

“Master, what would you have me do? I have sat quietly while you ponder. I have shown no restlessness. But indeed, I have grown tired of watching the moon brag of her power over the sea from this window.”

“For tonight, dear selkie, lay yourself in front of my fire upon that bear skin. Rest for tonight and tomorrow we will talk of things that are to come”.

She moved gracefully, hypnotically across the floor to the bear skin. On all fours she buried her face into its fur and breathed deeply.

Then, chanting in words unknown to the man, she ad one tear before she lie down wrapping the fur around her lower body.

She looked like a fine vas with her defined back stretching to her arm stems and on to the bloom of her hair.

The man turned away from her and covered his head, hoping sleep would come and his desire would test him no more.

In the top tower of the castle, lie things untouched for decades. The man removed the wooden boxes from the shelves, gingerly removing the contents.

Soft layers of silk unfolded in his hands, smelling sweet of Jaime as it had the day it had been packed.

In the left side of the tower the window had been blocked by rough stone and cement. Blocking a view is easy; it is the blocking of memories that is hard.

The tower window had once overlooked the garden and beyond that the moor. The man no longer wanted the view to remind him, and yet here he was, after all those years in the tower, alone, with his memories.

The stairs were stone and did not creek as he descended the tower and floor by floor returned to where he had left the sleeping selkie by the fire.

She lays still sleeping one arm under her head, one leg slightly curled with the soft white flesh of her bottom extended.

He gently laid the silk gown over her body, a cocoon of her new humanity.

The day light peeped through the east windows, exposing the soft dust that swirled like soft snow in an easy breeze.

The Selkie opened her eyes and stared directly ahead as if she were avoiding the reality of where the day had found her.

“Does the light hurt your eyes”? The man asked.

As low as a whisper, the Selkie answered, “No, I am not hurt by the light, only saddened.”

“Then we shall draw the drapes, and we will sit by candle light both morning and night.”

No smile crossed her moist lips, only an acknowledging bend of her head, as she cradled her body from his view.

“If I need sunlight, I am sure to get enough bounding through the moor,”

“If that pleases you, master, then it pleases me.”

“Are you hungry?” he asked sincerely, as his own stomach was calling him.

“Indeed, I am.”

“I will go to the seashore; it is early yet and the herring will still be near the shore line.
Can you make the bread”?

“I can,” the Selkie smiled. “This is not my first time here”.

“Here, you mean on the land”?

“Yes, on the land”, she replied. The darkness of her eyes held many secrets.

With the fish cleaned and the bread baking, the Selkie sat by the fire tending to their meal.

“Your eyes are strictly human,” she began, “and you see strictly human things”.

“Dear Selkie, how would I know differently? I am but a man, a man is doomed to walk the earth or ride the sea. But a creature as you, you have seemed many things in many places, your eyes adjust in the light of the land or the deep dark indigo of the sea.”

“A Selkie sees more than what is physical, more than what is now,” she began. “I have seen your past and I know of her. I know she crossed the moor to come to you. I know of the garden in the left wing where the two of you played games of children, and crossed lines of passion”.

The man’s face grew pale and clammy. His heart rose as he feared to hear her name. Dropping to his knees, he began to speak in a weak and trembling voice.

“Dearest Selkie, do not speak to me of her. I have spent many years trying to block the sweet memories of she who took my heart into the grave with her”.

The Selkie rose to him, pressing his head into the soft flesh of her belly. His tears mixed with the sweet scent of her skin.

“Cry, dear man, for loss”.

The man raised his head gazing into her dark emerald eyes.
Cooing in her siren voice, she paced her lips close to his ear.

“Is there something you want of me master”?

The man, now composing himself, stood and embraced her. Stroking her skin in places high and low.

“Is it your wish to have me now?”, she whispered.

“Oh yes, yes dearest Selkie, I desire you now”.

The man lifted the selkie back to the bear skin rug, laying her as gentle as a butterfly into its softness.

Layer by layer he removed her cocoon of silk, revealing her soft flesh. With each stoke of his hand the Selkie traveled in his memory, an emotionless voyeur of all that had made him, himself.

Upon her he spent his energy, released his pain, and in the end gave her his tears.

And when the day sank beyond the seas horizon, and the dark clouds promised rain, the man again climbed the stairs to the left tower.

From the top shelf, hidden in a secret panel behind the wall, he took the seal coat from its fortress. He placed the shiny silvery coat into her milky white arms and opened the door.

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