By Carmilla Voiez
With illustrations by Deborah Blount.
David sipped champagne, nestled between blonde twins on a leather couch in an exclusive nightclub. It was a popular nightspot for rich playboys and the women who partied with them. The world was truly his oyster since his last divorce – carefree, with a new lover almost every night. He turned to the one on his right and slid his tongue between her red-painted lips. She tasted of champagne and honey.
‘Candice,’ he slurred. ‘You’re beautiful.’
She giggled. ‘Candice is my sister. I’m Rhona.’
He silenced her with another kiss.
‘Baby, it’s so noisy here.’ Candice stroked David’s upper arm. ‘Let’s go back to your place.’
He turned to her and grinned. ‘First I want to watch you girls dance for me.’
David relaxed. He watched Candice and Rhona on the dance floor. Around him, other men discussed finance and politics. They tried to entice him into their conversations, but this was his play-time. Work would wait until Monday.
David threw off the moorings from his yacht and steered her out of the harbour. The sea glistened. Sunlight bounced from waves making everything sparkle. He pulled Gucci sunglasses over his eyes and sailed onto the open sea. Freedom! His mobile phone was switched off. Champagne cooled in the icebox. He craved solitude.
The twins from the previous night were fun, but when the three of them woke and the haze of alcohol withdrew, the twins’ eyes lost the frantic sparkle he had admired. As he asked them to leave, they stared at him with dull faces and petulant frowns. What did they want from me? They had fun, didn’t they?
The rocking motion, as waves broke against the hull, calmed his thoughts. He smiled a boyish, perfect-toothed smile, a charming smile that had separated many women from their clothing. Life was good.
David hardly paid attention to direction or time as he sailed. He let his thoughts wander into the comforting depths of the water. He felt whole again. The stresses of decisions made fell from his shoulders and were carried away on the tide.
Beneath the setting sun, the water looked as if dipped in blood. David realised he should return to the marina. While turning about he spotted a figure on an outcrop of rock. He switched off the engine and let the yacht drift. Grabbing a pair of binoculars, he focused them on a point a few hundred metres ahead.
Within the circles of his enhanced vision, she danced. Her hair was as black as night and her skin glowed like moonlight. She twirled and angled her body as gracefully as any ballerina, but with movements that looked spontaneous and natural. She seemed completely unaware of him. She danced for herself, enjoying the motion of her naked body in the cool evening breeze. She was complete and perfect. As he watched, time seemed to stand still. David’s heavy breathing became the only sound - an orchestra for her performance.
Unable to tear his eyes away from the dance or from her lithe, elegant limbs, David watched. In spite of the cooling air, perspiration gathered on his face and hands. He wanted her more than any woman he'd ever seen, needed to possess her.
He licked his sea-salted lips. She bent her body forwards and he stared at the secret view she offered. Then she was gone. Frantically, he changed focus and magnification. A circle of white surf beside the rock dispersed and vanished.
David sat there, binoculars digging into the flesh around his eyes, as the sky became dark. The vision of loveliness did not return. His heart ached for her. He called out to the darkness, begging her to return, but if she heard him she did not respond to his pleas.
Eventually, he switched the engine on, speckled the water with his navigation light and turned the yacht around. As he returned to the harbour, late that night, David had never felt more alone.
Work lost all meaning, and he no longer haunted nightclubs in search of beautiful conquests. Only the sea called to him. Whenever he could, he sailed his yacht to that outcrop of rock and waited for her return. Two weeks passed before his patience was rewarded.
As the sun began to set, a basking seal slid from the watched rock. Moments later, she returned - his ebony-haired beauty. David’s soul ignited as he watched her again. Any doubts, that he could have simply dreamed her grace and beauty, burned away as he watched her.
The water turned red and his heart pumped hard and fast in his chest. He couldn’t allow himself to lose her again.
Afraid, to startle her, but even more afraid to wait and watch her leave, David called out. Quietly at first a then louder until, at last, she noticed the yacht and her turquoise eyes turned to face him.
She eyed him curiously. He could not guess her thoughts. She looked unafraid, but at the same time unhappy about the interruption.
‘Please!’ David called, desperately. ‘Please. I just want to meet you, to talk.’
Shaking her head, she dived into the water. He watched as the ripples faded, feeling bereft. Unwilling to simply return to harbour, he lowered anchor, stripped to his underwear and dove into the cold water.
After clambering onto the rock, he shook moisture from his hair. His body shivered and goose bumps rose on his skin. He stared at the point of her return to the water, hoping to catch sight of her. Without his binoculars he felt short sighted. His probing stare reached only a few metres into the sea before it was cut off by darkness. He wrapped his arms around his freezing chest and wondered what to do next.
Idiot! She knows I was watching her. Now, she’ll never return. I’ve lost her forever.
Something grey, lighter than the rock, caught the edge of his vision. David reached across and sank his fingers into soft, dappled fur. He pulled it towards him. Pressing the pelt against his face, he breathed deeply. The smell was intoxicating. He knew this belonged to the dancer and that she would return for it.
David sat on the rock until the only light was a sliver of silver across the horizon. Realising he must return to the yacht now, before all light was lost, he dragged the fur garment through the water. It tangled around his legs as he swam, threatening to pull him beneath the surface, drown him as punishment for the theft, but he was determined, and kicked harder towards the yacht until he grasped the first rung of the ladder and pulled himself and the fur on board.
He dried himself in the glorious richness of her fur coat and dressed. In vain, he waited for her return. After an hour of dark silence David returned to harbour. He stashed her fur coat safely in the trunk, slid behind the steering wheel of his Mercedes and drove to his empty home.
The next day, David woke late and called in sick to his office. He assured his secretary that he would be well enough to return in a few days, telling her not to come to his home with broth and a fruit basket. In a voice dripping with disappointment, she said she would rearrange his schedule and hoped to see him fit and well soon.
On his way to the harbour, David stopped at the fashion district. His chest heaved with excitement as he described the beauty and proportions of the woman he desired. The auburn-haired assistant showed him a turquoise silk dress. He told her it was perfect and charged it to his card.
With the sun still high in the sky, he sailed towards the outcrop of rock. He anchored the yacht as closely to the spot as he dared and lowered a dingy into the water. When he reached the rock, he laid the beautiful silk gown beside him. It shimmered in the sunlight and looked as magical as the water that surrounded him. David desperately hoped his love would return and admire the present.
His body ached with hours of sitting. He wiped perspiration from his brow and sipped bottled water to keep hydrated. Waves lapped gently against his rock throne. Excitement and fear battled within him. He couldn't bear the thought that she might not return.
The horizon blushed as a strange sucking sound roused David from his thoughts. Turning, he saw the head and shoulders of the dancer above the surface of the water. Her eyes looked dark and her brow creased in anger.
‘You stole my coat,’ she said.
David’s face flushed. ‘I – I just wanted to see you again.’
‘Where is it?’
‘It’s safe.’ David lifted the corner of the silk dress. ‘I brought you this.’
The young woman pulled herself onto the rock and sat fingering the sensuous silk of the turquoise dress.
‘Do you like it?’ David asked.
She nodded, lifted the gown and let it fall like water over her skin. The dress fitted her perfectly. She looked more beautiful than ever as the silk caressed the curves of her pale body. He smiled at her.
She returned his smile and her eyes softened. ‘Thank you. It’s beautiful.’
‘Would you like to have dinner with me?’ David asked.
She stared at him for a moment. ‘Okay.’
He held her hand as she stepped into the dingy and he rowed them back to the yacht. He poured champagne into two flutes, and watched her sip eagerly, as he prepared dinner for them.
‘What’s your name?’ David placed a white china plate filled with delicious and beautifully presented cuisine on the table. It felt as though he was placing his beating heart before her, rather than supper. He swallowed hard and sat down, facing her, staring at her delicate features and the thick, dark lashes which hooded her eyes.
‘Selina,’ she answered.
‘I’m David.’ And ... I’m crazy about you.
‘David, can I have my coat back, please?’
‘You don’t like the dress?’ David frowned.
‘It’s beautiful. But, the fur belongs to me.’ Her body trembled.
‘Are you shivering?’
‘I’m not used to the cold.’
‘Come inside. We can get warm by the fire,’ he suggested.
‘I don’t think so, David.’
His eyes clouded at her rejection, but he refused to give up. ‘Can I see you tomorrow?’
‘Will you bring my fur?’
‘Of course,’ he lied.
Selina studied David’s face. Her eyes were huge. He felt himself drawn into their depths and shivered.
‘Thank you for dinner,’ she said.
She stood up and walked to the starboard side of the stern. Staring across the water, she sighed.
The sound resonated through David. It was the loneliest sigh he had ever heard. He wiped his cheek and realised he was crying. He approached her and wrapped his arms around her, pressing his chest against her back. She pulled away, pushing him from her.
‘I’m sorry,’ he stammered.
The cold look that flashed across her face was more eloquent than any words. He turned from her in shame. The pelt he'd stolen to lure her back called to him. It told him to do the right thing. Give back the lost treasure, for you will never possess this woman, by force or flattery. He brushed the thoughts aside. Selina was too beautiful to lose.
She tugged at the silk dress and threw the garment to the floor. As she dived, naked, from his yacht, David felt like she'd torn out his heart, stamped and spat on it. How dare she? Rushing to the side, he leaned over and watched as her pale limbs disappeared into shadow. He pulled off his jacket and shoes then stopped, sat at the table still covered in food and alcohol, and wept.
Each day, David visited exclusive stores purchasing dresses, shoes, jewellery and perfume for his beloved. Each evening, he sailed out to the rocks and watched for her. Each night, he kissed her fur coat goodnight and washed it with lonely tears.
Three weeks after their first dinner-date, David’s patience was again rewarded. He slouched in a deck chair, studying the deep violets and rose-pinks of clouds. The ladder rattled gently and he wondered whether a large fish or mammal might have brushed against the boat. As he stood up to check, he saw the upturned face of his beloved as she clung to a rung with trembling hands.
‘You came back!’
With his help, she pulled herself on board and stood shivering. Her skin looked blue and purple in the dying sun. He drew her into his arms and she did not pull away. She rested against him, limp and listless, trembling like an autumn leaf in harsh winds.
He took her hand and led her to the salon. He warmed the room with a fire and draped a silk quilt over her shoulders. He brought her hot cocoa and whisky, but her teeth rattled in her mouth.
‘You’re sick,’ he told her. ‘I’ll take you home and we’ll call a doctor. I’ll make you well. I promise.’
Selina slept through the return journey. David had to carry her to his car and strap the seatbelt around her. He called his physician and directed him to meet them at David’s building. The doctor prescribed rest and a course of anti-biotic. He recommended a nurse, but David insisted he would take care of the woman, personally. He dragged a chaise longue into the bedroom and lay there, watching Selina slumber, while drifting in and out of sleep.
Her fever broke forty-eight hours later. David helped Selina sip some luke-warm broth. The following day, when David woke, Selina was sitting up in bed.
‘Where am I?’ she asked.
‘You were ill. I brought you here three days ago. This is my home.’
‘Oh,’ she whispered and fell back against the pillow.
David stood up and placed his hand on her forehead. She felt cool to the touch.
‘Would you like to get up? I can make you breakfast.’
She shook her head. Her movements looked weak. Her eyes lacked their sparkle and her dark hair had lost its lustre.
‘Can I get you anything?’ he asked.
‘I’m sorry,’ he lied. ‘It isn’t here. I’ll get you a robe.’
David brought dozens of parcels into the room and set them around Selina’s bed, like tributes. One by one, he handed gift-wrapped boxes to her. She opened the lilac tissue paper of the first to find a long, sapphire silk dressing gown. She touched the cool silk against her cheek and smiled, wistfully. Mounds of tissue and golden wrapping paper grew around the island of the bed as Selina discarded them to find jewels, notebooks, clothing, shoes, perfume and a silver hand-mirror.
David grinned as she inspected each gift and nodded her approval.
‘I don’t know what to say.’ Her face lifted towards his.
Even dulled by illness, her face was still the most beautiful thing David had ever seen. An overwhelming desire, to keep her, rose in him again.
‘You don’t have to say anything,’ he answered. ‘Well, maybe just one thing.’
Selina’s face darkened with confusion. David held one final gift before her. It lay in his trembling hand: a tiny box. She took it from him and opened it. It held, within its ivory silk lining, a sapphire and diamond ring.
‘Will you marry me?’ David asked.
Selina coughed. ‘What?’
‘I’ve never met anyone like you. You’ve enchanted me. You have my heart. Please treat it gently.’
‘I – I don’t know you.’ She shook her head, frowning in disbelief.
‘You’ll get to know me. I’m a good man. I work hard. Look at all I’ve given you. You’re all I think about when I close my eyes. Being with you makes me realise how lonely I was before.’
‘This is madness. Please, give me my fur. Let me go.’
‘Selina, darling. I took care of you when you were ill. I will always take care of you. I will never hurt you. You’re safe with me. You’ll be comfortable here, and loved. Why would you want to leave?’
Selina stared at the gifts that bound her legs like chains. She looked at David’s face, his kind and charming smile and his intelligent eyes. She sighed. ‘If I say yes, you must return my fur to me.’
‘I’ll retrieve it, of course. I would never take anything from you. I only want to give you everything I have.’
Selina nodded. David grasped her hand and kissed her fingers. He slid the ring into place. Its bulk dominated her tiny hand.
‘Can I have a moment to get dressed?’ she asked.
David nodded. ‘I’ll start breakfast. Do you like waffles?’
‘Sure,’ she answered. ‘That’ll be great.’
When she entered the kitchen, wrapped in her silk robe, David held his breath. She looked magnificent. Like a goddess.
‘Here,’ he said, pulling a chair out from the table.
He placed waffles, fresh orange juice and black coffee in front of her. He loved the way her eyes widened as she stared at the feast. Pride warmed his chest. He asked about her family, her job and her life. She shrugged and told him very little.
‘I love swimming,’ Selina said.
‘You’re a beautiful dancer. Have you been classically trained?’
‘Huh? Oh no. I just dance from the soul.’
‘Will you dance for me, again?’ he pleaded.
‘Perhaps, one day, when I’m whole.’
He told her about his life - about the billions of dollars that passed through his hands every day, about fine restaurants, theatres and his favourite books. Her eyes grew more glazed as he spoke. I’m losing her! He panicked. He held out his hand and stroked her cheek. She smiled and a spark of warmth lit her eyes.
‘What do you want from me?’ she asked.
He sat silently, his thumb gliding over the silken skin of her face. He swallowed hard. ‘Love,’ he answered, at last.
‘That, I can give.’ She stood up and opened her arms to embrace him.
David stood in front of her and circled his arm around her waist, pulling her close. Her skin smelled of ocean spray and meadow flowers. Fire lit her turquoise eyes, before her face slid out of focus and her mouth touched his. She tasted of honey, salt and red berries. He sucked her breath greedily into his lungs. The pressing of lips against teeth excited him. He swept her up in his arms and carried her to the bedroom.
He juggled her in one arm while sweeping the quilt clean of gifts. Shoes, perfume bottles and mirror clattered to the floor. He placed her at the centre. Selina surrounded by mulberry silk. He smiled, kissed her throat, and her pulse fluttered against his lips. He savoured her wondrous aroma and turned his eyes to her face. Her pupils were dark tunnels in the midst of blue waters. They dragged his soul from his body and he floated joyfully towards her.
The noises she made, as he kissed and stroked her skin made him realise of all the gifts he had given, this was the one she appreciated most.
He stared at her face, her gentle, open mouth and her closed eyes. At the centre of her pleasure he sensed resignation, as though she had accepted her fate and would do what she could to enjoy it. He kissed her again and rolled gently beside her. His eyes searched her gorgeous face. A gentle smile played across her lips and her nostrils flared as she breathed. Her breasts rose and fell. Yet her eyes, the colour of the wild ocean, remained closed.
‘I love you,’ he whispered. ‘You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.’
Her smile grew wider, and a tiny pearl-like tear rolled from the corner of her eye into her ear lobe.
With his arm across her delicate body, he fell asleep.
A season passed while Selina stayed with David. Every time she asked about her fur he changed the subject or distracted her with gifts and love making. If she persisted he'd sulk as if wounded until it was Selina who apologised. It became a routine. He adorned her with expensive gifts and she continued to share her love with him. Even so, he started to feel restless and wondered whether this was all there was.
Selina searched the apartment for her fur. One room was always locked, but David never let the key out of his sight. If it was anywhere in their home, the coat would be behind the locked door, but try as she might she could not get beyond the barrier. Once she asked him and he threatened to slap her.
'I give you everything. I ask only for your respect and this tiny amount of privacy. Never bother me about this door again.'
‘I’m pregnant,’ she told him, one morning.
He yelped in glee and lifted her into the air. Her cheeks glowed and her eyes shone. He wanted to hold onto her forever. ‘A son!’ he cried.
‘Perhaps,’ she said.
Selina wanted a water birth. David booked the finest clinic. Every day he brought her new presents as he returned to her, eagerly, from work. Each day she grew rounder. He loved watching her body change, and when the baby started stretching her skin with fierce kicks, David thought his heart might burst with love.
The baby was a healthy boy with the dark hair of his mother and the rich, brown eyes of his father. They called him Thomas.
Each evening, David returned to find Thomas asleep in Selina’s arms as she rocked gently on the antique rocking chair. Her eyes became distant. She recoiled at David’s touch. But the baby was beautiful.
‘You have given me everything,’ David told her.
Selina nodded, sadly.
That Friday, David returned from work, with a giant teddy bear under one arm and a mother-of-pearl hairbrush in the other. Before he unlocked the front door, he heard the frantic screams of his son. He burst inside and found the baby, beetroot red from crying, in a basket on the floor before the empty rocking chair. David searched the house.
‘Selina,’ he called. ‘Selina.’ Only his baby’s hiccupping cries answered him.
‘Where is she?’ David asked.
Thomas opened his clenched, purple fist. On his tiny palm lay a pink and white shell.
Wrapping Thomas in a padded jacket, David took him to the Mercedes and sped towards the harbour. He checked the yacht, first. It was empty. He ran along the promenade. His son swung across his chest. Thomas’ forehead knocked gently against David’s body with every jolt of foot hitting concrete.
On the beach, he saw a dark shape near the edge of the water. He raced down the concrete steps and across sand. She sat there, staring out at the ocean. Her bare legs and feet were blue and wrinkled where they rested in the breaking waves.
‘Selina!’ His voice was full of fury.
She turned to face him. ‘Hi, David.’
‘I came to the beach.’
‘Come home,’ he demanded.
She pushed herself to her feet and stood swaying for a moment before walking toward the promenade. David staggered behind her, juggling Thomas and Selina’s discarded shoes. He took her home and calmed Thomas to sleep. Then, he sat beside her and wrapped his hand around her chilled fingers.
'I can't rest in this house. I don't sleep,' she said.
'I'll get you some pills,' he promised.
A week later the police telephoned David in his office. Selina had been picked up while wandering naked along busy streets, seemingly oblivious to people and traffic. A helpful but flustered officer released her into David’s care, suggesting he seek psychological help and stressing how much worse it might have been.
‘Why?’ he asked her, when she sat down at last, wrapped in a quilt.
‘Do you need help?’ he asked.
His knitted brows revealed his anger. She had humiliated him and for what? ‘What’s funny?’
‘You promised ...’
‘What? What did I promise? What have I done wrong? I love you. I’ve given you and Thomas everything. How can this possibly be my fault?’
‘I’m tired.’ She retreated to the bedroom.
When David lay beside her, she curled herself so tightly inside her nightgown that he couldn’t reach her. He lay, staring at the ceiling, unable to sleep.
He woke her for breakfast the following morning. Her hair was tangled and yesterday’s make-up streaked her cheeks. David took her in his arms and kissed her. She shrank from him. His temper rose. He pushed her away and punched the wall. Nursing his bruised fist, he growled. ‘What now?’
Selina shook her head.
‘How can you be unhappy? You have everything. You have a son, a home, jewellery, an unlimited allowance. You have my heart, and you are so beautiful.’
She screamed and clawed her cheeks, tearing her skin. ‘Damn beauty and damn you for only ever seeing it and not me!’
David gripped her twitching hands. Her face was bleeding, but he dared not let go to wash her wounds.
‘You took my skin!’
David swallowed hard. He stared at her. Her face was full of rage. Spittle dripped from her mouth. Her wounds looked as fierce and angry as her eyes.
He shook his head. ‘I have never taken from you. What are you talking about? Shhh, let’s sit down. Let me clean your face.’
‘My fur! You promised you’d give it back. Look, my skin is so dry that it’s peeling from my bones. Can’t you see me at all?’
He shook his head again, but remembered Selina’s fur coat. The garment he had taken and hidden between layers of silk in a freezer. ‘Your fur coat?’
‘Yes, my fur coat! The only thing I own.’
‘You own lots of things, darling.’
‘No. You own lots of things, including me.’
He pushed her away. ‘How dare you?’
At the edge of his hearing, he heard Thomas cry out, but he ignored the wails.
Selina’s fingers prodded and pinched her arms and shoulders. Crescents of blood from her long, painted nails created patterns, like fish-scales, across her pale skin. David grabbed her again, held her tightly and kissed her mouth. She closed her eyes and stood motionless.
‘You’re mad,’ he said.
She shook her head. ‘I was asleep and now I am awake. Give me back my coat, David.’
David fell back, hitting the floor. He grasped his knees and made his body as small as possible. He looked up at the woman he loved, the mother of his child. ‘Don’t leave me.’
‘You know I must.’ She knelt beside him and stroked his cheek.
'No. You're just sick. I'll get the physician. You can get some rest. You've been too busy with our son. We can sort this out. There's a mansion, just beyond the city, that has experience dealing with this sort of thing. They can give you something to calm you. Once you're calm you'll see what you have here. You won't want to throw it away.'
She swallowed her angry words. 'Okay. Let me cook dinner for you tonight and you can call the doctor tomorrow. Perhaps you're right.'
She crushed all her sleeping pills into David's portion. He pulled a face when he tasted the food, but ate it to placate her. He knew how to choose his battles and she was trying to be a good wife even if her cooking was terrible.
While he dozed on the settee she searched his pockets. The key was there. The room was small with a desk, a computer, and a chest freezer. She needed to use a second key to unlock the freezer. It was there, wrapped in silk. The fur was slightly brittle with the cold but it warmed to her touch. Beneath her coat were other bundles, other fur coats. She hadn't been the first selkie to fall prey to his charms. Where were the others? Locked away, sedated, in the mansion he'd threatened her with? Dead? She took them all. If she returned them to her people they might now how to find the others.
The thud of something heavy startled her. Cradling the coats, she ran to the door. David was sitting beside the settee staring at her.
'I told you ...' His head dipped as he tried to fight the desire to sleep. 'Never to bother me about that room again.'
Hatred burned in her chest. She glanced towards the open door of her son's bedroom, but her arms were too full. She would have to leave Thomas here for now. Best then to leave David alive, with only a sore head and an empty freezer as her goodbye note.
'I am not your toy,' she said.
'You're an ungrateful bitch,' he told her.
'What about the others?' she asked.
'It's always been you. Only you.' His eyes closed and his head drooped. He was losing his battle with the sleeping pills.
'I hate you!' She turned around and fled the building and the city. Reunited with her seal skin she returned, whole, to the waves.
David and Thomas built castles in the sand. The boy had eaten as much sand as he had sculpted, and David shuddered at the thought of the following day’s nappy. The sun painted the waves orange and gold. He watched the water for a moment then turned back to his son.
‘Time to go home, Tom.’
David gathered the toys into a large carry all and lifted his son in one arm.
‘Mama.’ Thomas chuckled.
‘I miss her too.’ David squeezed the toddler tighter.
Thomas giggled. ‘Mama!’
David turned toward the ocean. A woman walked toward them. Her slender, pale limbs moved gracefully as she strode across the sand. Her jet black hair was pushed back from her ivory face, and her huge turquoise eyes shone brightly.
David grinned. ‘Selina!’
She held her arms out toward their son. 'Let me take him.'
David shook his head. Thomas started to cry.
She looked as beautiful and vibrant as the day David had first seen her dance on the rocks. Her face glowed with health. His heart felt buoyant - full yet as light as a feather. If he played this right she would come back to him.
'Come home with us,' he said.
'Only for Thomas,' she answered. 'And you will never take my skin again. Do you know what you did to the others? The ones who died and the ones you drove mad with grief. You're a monster, David. You want to own everything, but you can't own people.'
Selina tucked Thomas into his bed and relayed stories of watery creatures as he fell asleep beside his mother’s body.
David watched as she glided through the apartment, touching things, sniffing and tasting them, like a child full of wonder.
‘I’ve missed you,’ he said.
She didn't show any indication that she heard his words.
‘Do you love me?’ he asked.
Her wild scent enveloped him. Her beauty made him tremble.
‘Don't leave again?’
‘I'm leaving tonight. I only wanted to see my son. On land, in your home, my soul dries out and crumbles. I am selkie. I belong to no man, but I spent as long as I could with you. I gave you Thomas. Is that not enough?’
His eyes searched her face for truth. Slowly, he nodded. ‘Yes, it’s enough.’
Selina grabbed David’s hand. She danced for him, enchanting him as before. The room felt full of magic as her arms and legs sculpted images in the air. When her dance was over she kissed his cheek.
‘Thank you,’ he breathed. ‘Thank you for coming home.'
'I'm not staying.'
'I know, but Thomas misses his mother. When will we see you again?'
'Find the others. Those who are still alive and bring them to the beach. Once you have released all the selkies, then we can talk about it.'
He frowned. The others. His ex wives. Women, no selkies, he'd enslaved by separating them from their true natures. Two were in a mental asylum. He was paying their fees. But the rest, were they even alive? It would take him all his days to put right what he had done, and he wasn't sure a few hours with Selina was worth the trouble.
She saw through him and her face hardened. He felt ashamed but oddly liberated from her spell. 'Thomas will be waiting when you want to see him again.'
'You won't bring them?'
He shook his head.
'So you feel no guilt, no responsibility?'
'Then how can you bring Thomas up as a decent man?'
'Decent man? I am strong. I'm rich, Successful. That is what being a decent man means.'
A tear fell from the corner of Selina's eye and wove down her cheek. She turned from David and ran back to the sea, back to people whose morality made sense to her.
#Scottish folk tale