Fantasy Fiction posted May 26, 2019


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My attempt at a story with difficult objects to include.

The Selkie's Song

by GollyGreen32


Jack woke as the song reached a crescendo. It drew him out of the cabin and to the bow of the small freighter. The wind whipped his long dark hair from his stubbled face. He peered into the depths below and the eyes of the creature who summoned him.

The seal pointed its body toward the Faroe Islands.

Jack straightened from the bow, and dizziness overtook him. At the party on board the whaler, Katsu Maru, he, his crew, and the Japanese sailors filled their bellies with beer. Unfortunately for him, that’s the only thing he put in his belly. He had worked through the dinner hour taking care of paperwork and inspecting the ship.

Jack reached the bridge.

“Morning, Skipper,” his 1st Mate, Isaac, and his navigator, Bryan, said in unison.

Damn them, they both appeared bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Ready for anything. “Morning,” Jack murmured. “Bryan, we’re going to make a stop at Torshavn.”

“Whatever for, Sir?” Bryan asked. “We’ve unloaded our cargo. The company won’t like it if we’re late with their ship.”

Isaac nodded his agreement.

“Don’t worry, gentlemen. We will only stay a day,” Jack said. “I’m going to my cabin to clean up.” He turned to leave but stopped. He faced Isaac. “Today is June 21st, right?”

“Yes, Skipper, it’s the 21st. Do you need to go to the infirmary? You look a little green for a sailor,” Isaac said.

Jack smiled. “No. All I need is a hot shower and some fresh clothes.” He had drunk way too much last night, but he had needed to soak his heart over Myah. Now it was time to move on. Funny. The break-up really didn’t bother him that much. Something else nagged at him, but he couldn’t put his finger on it.

Thoughts of the seal entered his mind as he closed his eyes and the hot water hit his head and back. The seal was sleek and powerful. It’s begging, shining eyes still beckoned him. A few details from last night also came to him. The sailors aboard the Katsu Maru said to look for seal skins on the beach on Midsummer’s Eve. If he found one, they had said, he would want to keep it forever because a seal skin was so valuable. Yes, valuable because the owner then controlled the selkie, and the selkie could not transform back into a seal. How did the seal who called to him look as a woman?

Jack stepped from the shower and into the bedroom. After he dressed, Jack returned to the bridge and told Isaac and Bryan his plan to search for seal skins.

Isaac and Bryan looked at each other and then at Jack.

“Skipper,” Isaac said, “you do remember that they were talking about selkies?” Isaac paused. “A myth.”

“I know they’re a myth,” Jack said. Obviously, these men didn’t hear her song. “I haven’t lost my mind. There’s no harm in having a little fun and adventure.”

“There is when you disappear with a fifteen-million-dollar freighter,” Isaac said.

“We’re not going to disappear. I’ll radio COSCO headquarters with an excuse. Tell the rest of the crew,” Jack said.

“Aye, aye, Skipper,” Isaac said. He flipped the switch for the PA system.

Jack looked at Bryan. “Take her to Torshavn. I’m going to the com station.”

“Aye, aye, Captain,” Bryan said.

Several hours later, Jack and Bryan guided the MV Odalisque into Torshavn.
 
After the crew and Isaac and Bryan disembarked for an evening of some Danish fun on the town, Jack returned to his cabin for his pea coat. He chuckled to himself. Maybe he had gone insane, but he had just wanted to let loose. Now, he was chasing a seal with a freighter. The situation was a little absurd, but he couldn’t help it. He didn’t know how he knew the seal wanted him there at Torshavn but didn’t care. He’d come.

***

Jack wandered on the beach for over an hour before he spotted a large lump lying on the beach near the base of the cliffs. He walked over, saw the fur, and lifted it from the sand. It was indeed a seal skin, and still warm. That familiar song reached his ears as he looked up at the cliffs. When he lowered his gaze back to the beach, she was walking toward him, dressed in a long brown dress and her black hair glinting in the moonlight. She wore no shoes.

The woman stopped in front of him. “Hello, my son.” Her voice sounded gravelly, like a person who hadn’t used it in a long time. “I had hoped you would answer.”

Jack shook his head and dropped the seal skin. “I don’t understand. My mother died when I was an infant."

The selkie reached out but didn’t touch Jack. “That’s what your father told you to avoid vicious rumors from spreading around the village." She lowered her arm.

“Why did you leave us, Orla?” Jack pushed out both sides of his coat with his hands in his pocket.

The breeze molded Orla’s dress against her body. "Kiera found my seal skin hidden in your father’s workshop. She showed it to me, not knowing that it was mine, and that having my skin allowed me to return to the sea.”

Jack gazed at the ocean. It figured that Kiera, his kind, strong and curious older sister found their mother’s seal skin. She and their paternal grandmother cared for him while his father worked the commercial fishing boats.

“What’s wrong, Jack?” Orla said.

“I thought you dead for so long, and here you are, a selkie, a creature I once believed was a myth and talking to me like decades haven’t passed between us without a word. Does Kiera know?”

Orla stepped closer to her son. “Yes, she knows. For several years now, but I asked her not to tell you. I wanted to tell you.”

His mother obviously wanted to embrace him, but he did not want to embrace her at the moment. He looked into her eyes. “Did you love the sea more than us? How could you leave Kiera and me when we were so little?" He should understand because he loved the sea.

“I can’t help it. The sea calls to me.” Orla sat down on the beach, facing the ocean and tucking her knees beneath her chin.

Jack followed. “How did you meet father? Did he steal your seal skin?”
 
“Your father was collecting the lobster pots for a commercial fishing boat,” Orla said. “About 30 minutes before, I had crawled past the kitchen area and into a pot’s parlor area while trying to steal and eat the bait.”

Jack grabbed some sand and let it slide through his fingers. “What happened?”
 
Orla stretched out her legs. “Seals normally sleep in an upright position in the water, like a buoy. I was trapped lying horizontally, so after about 15 minutes under the water I had trouble breathing. Your father lifted me out of the trap, but I just laid on the deck from exhaustion. The other fishermen wanted to kill me because I was stealing and eating their income. Your father protected me from them.” Orla chuckled. “I wanted to give your father a family, so I left my seal skin where I knew he would find it.”

Jack smiled. The story was romantic and endearing. “And the rest is history. So, when Grandma said the sea flowed through my veins, she wasn’t kidding.”

Orla slid sideways onto her hip and faced Jack, sand sticking to her feet and her dress sliding to her knees. “Tell me about your life, Son.”

Jack told her everything, from the first moment in childhood that he remembered to the time that led him to the beach with her.

Just before sunrise, Orla stood and looked down at Jack. “I must go now, Son. Midsummer’s Eve is almost over.”

Jack stood. “I think I always knew.” He reached out and touched her shoulders. Her skin felt cool and damp. “I’m glad you contacted me, Mom. With Dad gone, it has been hard to go home.”

Orla stroked his cheek. “I’ll come and see you in Cape Cod next Midsummer’s Eve if you would like.”    

Jack grabbed her hand. “I would like that a lot. I think Kiera would too.”

Orla stepped away and lifted her seal skin from the sand. “Well then, I’ll see you next June.”

Jack nodded.

Orla turned and walked away.

“Goodbye, Mother,” Jack whispered. He turned and walked toward town. Maybe he would join his crew. He looked up at the sky and thanked the stars for the crew of the Katsu Maru and a lobster pot. Without them, he would not have found his mother, confirmed his heritage, or even exist. Yes, he would go and join his crew, make a toast to the sea and the creatures in it, and drink his drink before reembarking onto the Odalisque. Tomorrow, he would sail for home, happy and without a hangover.
 
 
 


Every Story Has A Beginning contest entry


My scenario was - Jack woke as the song reached a crescendo, drawing him from his slumber, out of his cabin and to the bow of the ship. The wind whipped his long hair from his stubbled face, as he peered into the depths below, and the eyes of the creature that had summoned him.

You must include a lobster pot and a Japanese whaling vessel.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.


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