The Seal Song

Maggie Turner December 13, 2018
Magic
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    “M`e a threor`u tu`, ar fud na dtonnta,” Cerridwen’s voice carried across the waves. The waves made a metronome to her song, the seagulls joined her in her melody. Her dark hair was plaited into messy braids, and several loose strands were whipped in the sea breeze. The salt filled her nose. She wiggled her toes a bit in the sand. Her feet slide into it like slippers. “Sn`amh ar do chonair.” The song came from a place inside her deeper than the sea.
    Something bobbed up from the waves, just a bit out, far enough she could walk out to it. She waded in to get a closer look, her skirt floating up around her on the water’s surface. It was smooth and round, like a perfect skipping stone. Cerridwen squinted in the harsh noon- light. The something was grey, speckled with darker spots like a freckled egg.
    The something swimmed closer, and popped out above the water. A seal looked up at her with full its eyes. They seemed to be made of onyx, as black and shiny as they were.
    They stood there awhile in the waters; the gulls’ cries and waves crashing against rock seemed miles away.
    “Hello there, little one,” the seal jolted back. Cerridwen softed her voice and repeated, “Hello.”
    The seal seemed to calm, drifting hesitantly closer.
    She gently patted his bald head. The chilly water sent goosebumps along her legs, but she paid no mind.
    “You knew I was of you, yes? When you heard my song?”
    The seal seemed to answer with its eyes. Cerridwen giggled, but it cut out when the slamming of a door called her gaze to the cottage sat up on the hill. Her husband stood, hands on his hips and stewing. He was gruff and spiteful and looked as if carved of stone. The beard that covered his face did not submit to breeze or movement.
    “Cerridwen!” He barked, like an old wolf dog. A scowl curled on his lip.
    She sighed, and turned back to the seal. It seemed to plead with her not to go. She stroked the seal.
    “Don’t worry,” she whispered like a secret, “I’ll be home soon.” It was not a secret, it was a promise. The seal disappeared underneath the waves, and Cerridwen trudged back into the cottage.
    Returning to her husband felt like walking with weights on her legs. Her knees felt rubbery.
    “Inside,” he pointed a fat finger to the door. It was wooden and a red that hurt her eyes. She hung her head and shuffled in. Cerridwen had learned long ago it was best not to fight back with him.
    Inside her husband screamed in her face, as her often did when she stepped a toe out of line. Spit flew in her face like ocean spray. Eventually when his throat got too hoarse and he had gotten tired of yelling, for the moment at least, he stormed off to the dock. She heard him stomp all the way down the hill, heard the rickety old boat set off towards the mainland. She knew what he was really sailing towards was the pub. He could smell alcohol from miles away, and it always seemed to be calling him back. She wished it would just keep him.
    Cerridwen starred out the window, watched him float far away from her, a speck of red amongst the vast blue waters. The backs of her eyes burned. She hated this. She hated the way he treated her, like property with his name seared onto her. Though technically she supposed she was.
    Cerridwen settled into a chair, and pressed her head against the window. She closed her eyes and listened to the crashing of the waves against rock. The sound took her back to the time before.“Don’t worry,” she whispered like a secret, “I’ll be home soon.” It was not a secret, it was a promise. The seal disappeared underneath the waves, and Cerridwen trudged back into the cottage.
    Returning to her husband felt like walking with weights on her legs. Her knees felt rubbery.
    “Inside,” he pointed a fat finger to the door. It was wooden and a red that hurt her eyes. She hung her head and shuffled in. Cerridwen had learned long ago it was best not to fight back with him.
    Inside her husband screamed in her face, as her often did when she stepped a toe out of line. Spit flew in her face like ocean spray. Eventually when his throat got too hoarse and he had gotten tired of yelling, for the moment at least, he stormed off to the dock. She heard him stomp all the way down the hill, heard the rickety old boat set off towards the mainland. She knew what he was really sailing towards was the pub. He could smell alcohol from miles away, and it always seemed to be calling him back. She wished it would just keep him.
    Cerridwen starred out the window, watched him float far away from her, a speck of red amongst the vast blue waters. The backs of her eyes burned. She hated this. She hated the way he treated her, like property with his name seared onto her. Though technically she supposed she was.
    Cerridwen settled into a chair, and pressed her head against the window. She closed her eyes and listened to the crashing of the waves below. It took her back to the time before, when she swam in the vast deep blue without thinking or worry. She needed to get back there. She needed her coat.
    She’d turned the cottage inside out dozens of times, every night when her husband went out to get drunk, and there was no sight of her coat anywhere.
    A thought struck her like lightning. She burst out of the door, left it swinging in the wind on its hinges. Cerridwen ran so fast she almost fell off the cliff, almost skewered by the jagged rocks below.
    Cerridwen’s voice trembled with excitement, and more than a little fear. “Teacht chugam.” She sent her song out like a lighthouse in a storm.
    “Tabhair dom abhaile.” A small grey head bobbed to the surface, then another, then another, until the island was surrounded with seal. “Tabhair dom abhaile! Dom abhaile!” She was jumping with joy, motioning to the seal wildly to bring her the coat that lay beneath the water.
    The seals barked from one another, and after disappearing they all resurfaced with the an old chest a top their heads. She ran down to the shore, kicking up sand.
    She threw open the chest. Her heart swelled at the sight of her beloved coat. It glistened in the sunlight, the white brighter than light itself.
    Tears pooled in her eyes.
    “Thank you,” her voice broke. It was little above a whisper, but the seals barked with pride.
    She wrapped the coat around her shoulders; it felt like she’d been out of her skin, and was finally inside it once more.
    Cerridwen walked out slowly into the water, ‘till her legs melted away and she had no use for them any longer. She swam out into the ocean, farther and farther still. She disappeared beyond the horizon, and knew in that moment she would never return.

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