Authors: Elizabeth A Reeves
|Last Selkie |
|Elizabeth A Reeves|
|CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (2012)|
The Last Selkie.
Twenty years ago the Gates to Faerie, protecting mankind from the Fae, failed for only a few hours. It was enough for a selkie maiden to escape through the barrier and fall in love with a young man who was dying. Her magical nature was enough to keep him alive a little longer. Then she vanished, leaving her husband and young daughter behind, answering the inescapable call of the sea-- a call the selkie have always answered.
Now nineteen, Meg Tanner has lost her father to a malignant brain tumor. Grieving and alone in the world, she follows the road to Newfoundland. There she meets Devin, the Guardian of the Gateway. He tells her that her mother didn't drown, but was a selkie who slipped through the gateway twenty years earlier, when Devin's father died, leaving the weight of the gateway on a ten year old's shoulders. Because of this, Devin feels responsible for Meg. He is also afraid that his attraction to her is purely the attraction of a mortal to a creature of Faerie.
Meanwhile, Meg keeps dreaming of Faerie-- her mother, and one of the Sidhe-- an inhumanly beautiful Fae named Omyn, who is irresistable to her, but also frightens her. Meg's mother wants her to come to Faerie-- a one way ticket, and is weaving the seal skin that will allow her to pass through the gate and leave behind mortality forever. Meg is forced to choose between the man she has grown to love, the fascinating Omyn who ignites her blood, and the last family she has left.
Legend has it that Elizabeth A Reeves was born with a book in her hands and immediately requested a pony. Though this story is questionable, it is true that books and horses have been consistent themes in her life. Born in Massachusetts, she was quickly transplanted to Arizona by a professor father and creativity-driven mother, who is the one responsible for saying "If you can't find a book that you want to read, write a book you want to read.” She went to college at the University of Arizona, where she studied Classics and History. She has long been fascinated with myths, folklore, and fairytales from around the world. In her spare time, she likes to knit, weave, hatch chickens, and chase after her husband and four sons.
Elizabeth A Reeves
Copyright © 2012 Elizabeth A Reeves
All rights reserved.
To Peg and Meg. My mother and sister. Strong women that I adore.
This story would not be possible without my editor, Peg Lewis. I am so grateful for the hours of reading and suggestions you put into making this book possible. I also owe so much to my husband and sons, who had to be truly patient when I was swimming deep waters instead of talking to them. I love you guys!
Thick curtains of rain drifted like sheets of velvet down across the ebony expanse of water. Looking down on it, I could not catch my breath. It was as if some ancient, primordial spirit had reached into my very soul and removed it from my body. I was numb, frozen, stilled. The rain crushed down on me, chill fingers grasping at me roughly, clumsily, but not cruelly. It was as if I was simply too frail to bear its gentle ministrations. My hair clung to my face as I clutched my arms to my chest.
How much time had passed? Had it been a moment? Had it been a lifetime? I stretched my fingers out towards that dark expanse below me—the haunting perfection that I had never known existed until now. It called to me, lured me on, and as my heart leapt into mortal terror, the rest of me welcomed what would surely come.
I leapt down into that icy embrace.
I stared down at my hands. They were red, chapped and cold in the unseasonably chill June morning. My knuckles, I noticed, were white under the skin. I forced myself to relax my grasp on the lead line I was holding. Coal didn’t need me to fall apart now. In a few hours, when I was truly on my own, then I could let go and let everything hit me, but I didn’t want my shaggy stubborn best friend to remember me as a mess.
Coal turned his heavy Shetland head towards my cold hands and blew over them, searching for his customary treat. If I looked at him I could pretend that it was all just as simple as this. I was a girl who was giving up her childhood pony to a farm down the road. He wasn’t mine anymore.
If I focused on that pain, then the other deeper pain could be ignored.
I closed my eyes and leaned against Coal, digging my hands into his heavy mane and scratching in that particular spot that was always itchy. For a moment I had to force myself to take deep breaths, or I knew that I would fall apart, shatter, split into a thousand pieces of glass, and then I wouldn’t be able to keep my last promise to myself. Tomorrow, I had promised myself. I will fall apart tomorrow. Not today.
A beat up pick-up pulled in, with two grinning kids hanging out of the passenger window. Even before the truck had stopped they were out and running towards me. No, not towards me, I mentally corrected myself: towards Coal. He snorted at their approach, as much as he could be bothered to do, a thirty year old pony who had seen it all and done even more.
I tried to focus on the energetic conversation of the children in front of me, but the numbness that had been my haven for the last few weeks was too hard to shake off. I felt muddled, drugged into a stupor, as if my own mind was not mine to use.
It was over all too soon. I could not bring myself to say goodbye to Coal. I just patted him awkwardly on the neck and then the kids jumped on his back, double bare-back, to ride him home to their farm.
I sat down on the closest rock and watched them ride down the road until they disappeared.
It was over. Done. Coal had been the last.
I was free.
I bent my head into my hands and let my grief overwhelm me.
A girl, a beat up old car, one bag of belongings, very little cash, and no place to go! I sat behind the steering wheel trying to decide where I was going. Finally, I just started the car, shifted it into gear, and together we burped our way up the road with no particular direction in mind. After all, I had no place to go. I was not expected anywhere by anyone. After today I would just be a fading memory in the thoughts of the small town in Missouri that had been my home since I was too young to remember anything else.
My hands started shaking and I had to pull off the road. I cursed as my car stalled and bumped to a stop in a mud puddle. I took hysterical breath after breath, then let them take over. Who was I being strong for?
This couldn’t be me. This couldn’t be my life. Normal people don’t just lose everything. Normal people don’t graduate from high school, go into business with their father for a year, and then have the floor explode out from under them.
Normal people don’t go out the door to get pizza and never come back. Normal people don’t fall asleep at the one stop light in this two horse town and then never wake up.
I had not been able to believe it when I sat for two weeks, holding a cold hand that had once been strong and beautiful, that had once been part of my strong, handsome, amazing father. I could not believe that now, even after he was gone, after the shell of what he had been had been placed in a hole in the ground, after everything we had had was sold to pay for hospital bills.
How could something like this be true? Could life actually be that fragile? My father had never been fragile in his life. He had been larger than life, warm, laughing, happy… How could that be twisted into the morbidly still, weak, tissue-paper form in a hospital bed?
And I had not even been there in the end. I had held his hand non-stop for six days, scarcely leaving even to use the restroom. I had held onto him as if I could will his unhearing spirit back into its old hollow frame. The more I held onto him the more I could believe that he would recover, that he would wake up and his hazel eyes would crinkle up at me and he would laugh at my sober expression as he had so many times in the past.
I was asleep when he left—when he died. I was home, in bed, and he was taking his last breath.
I would never forgive myself. Maybe, if I had held onto him a little longer, he would have been fine. He would have come home and we would have found a way to make ends meet. And, if we had lost everything, we would have still had each other.
Instead, I was more alone than I had ever been in my whole life.
Eventually, I started my car again. I kept going straight ahead, joining onto a freeway, driving through the night, heading east and north for no good reason but that was where my car was facing when I left home.
Only when my hands started to shake did I realize that I hadn’t eaten in two days. Eating was for real people, and I was not convinced that I was real in any sense of the word. Hunger overruled and I pulled off at the next stop, stopping to wash my face in a fast food restroom and eat a greasy fish sandwich and enough caffeine to power a submarine across the Atlantic.
I cat-napped now and then at different rest stops, eating when I started shaking, sleeping when I was endangering the other drivers by being on the road. I crossed the border into Canada and just kept going—north and east.
I spent my last fifty to get on a ferry. I spent my last three dollars on fish and chips.
I stood on the ferry and stared out at the ocean around me.
Perhaps there was more to my destination than I had previously allowed. I had never seen the ocean. My father held some kind of terror of large bodies of water, which was understandable as my mother had drowned in the ocean when I was only sixteen months old. Now, here I was, looking down at all this unbelievable water. I had never seen anything like it. It was bitter cold as it slapped up at me. I could taste salt in the air, and suddenly my heart was pounding. Blood was in my veins again, flowing and warm. I was alive.
I drove off of the ferry and found myself in Trinity, Newfoundland.
Nothing had ever called to me as the ocean did. I wanted to give into its seductive voice and plunge into its depths, ignoring the miniscule detail that I could, of course, not swim. Part of me was terrified, seeing its incredible strength that had carved out the cliffs and rocks around me, but most of me was wildly exhilarated. As if I were suddenly drunk, but not muddled, more clear-headed than I had ever been in my life.
I kept my distance, as a woman does when she knows the man she’s attracted to is no good for her, but just looks too good.
At sunset I found I had hiked a little out of the town. Somewhere a violin and flute were playing a tune that sent shivers up my spine. It was wailing, haunting, and somehow so very familiar. There was something about this place that touched my very soul.
It terrified me.
The clouds above me opened their arms and sent down sheets of rain.
I leapt without a thought. Water closed over my head and I threw out my fingers, feeling the cruel, heavy, pressure of the water swallow me. The tide pulled at me, at my clothing, tasting this morsel that had thrown herself into his embrace. Deeper and deeper I sank, too overpowered to feel afraid.
My lungs burned within me and I knew I was drowning. I sent a silent apology to my father that he would have to see me so soon for being so stupid. I twisted in the water, luxuriating in its icy, thrilling touch, even as I opened my mouth and the water poured like ice into my lungs.