Tam had clipped dutifully, shearing the horny substances crusted into her small palms and soles, amidst winces and squirming. Slices of horn had formed slowly in their place; barriers harder to break down, spreading - finally - into webs between digits. That had decided it. Now, the water sings as he stitches stalks, liquid reach kissing his knees; needle driving through velvet thickness lit by moonlight. Its point pierced his skin when salty distractions blurred his vision; the pin prick dulled now to numbness as he works onward, methodical, towards the finish. Blood soaks the makeshift thread as it closes the gaps, sealing over the criss-crossed weeds hugging its breathing centre. Dark eyes watch within as he does. He would have the best for his girl.
Tam loses track of time in the driving of sharpened bone, one side to the other - finds himself keeping count of the tiny crosses closing over the X marked chest. By the end the number is beyond him; no way of knowing. Once fully sewn in and left with a fur filled sack requiring dispatch, he hefts his heavy burden further into the waters, holding her carefully still above the caresses of the cresting waves. Tam looks further out; watching; waiting. She had told him, though he hadn’t listened then. No choice now – just as he had no choice then. He is up to his middle, clothes sodden, arms outstretched, feet as yet holding firm beneath him. She will know. She will come at the waves’ calling.
A bobbing break in the surface announces the harem’s presence and Tam relieves himself of her weight, pushing her out into the depths. His breath catches momentarily before he sees her borne aloft by semi sunken silk undulations; a rise and fall, out and into the beyond.
Wading from the brine, Tam seeks higher ground, climbing cliff side stairs to glimpse her before she is gone completely; still cloaked in the salt’s sting, its traces tracked upon his cheeks, as well as clothing. He will watch the distant specks a while longer, with the scent of the sea on his skin. Until they swim from sight.
This one was written for The Angry Hourglass Flash-Frenzy-Round-37. Somehow I found myself writing about selkie children and weaving hints from various folktales into my piece... This one placed as First Runner Up for the week, which I was surprised and pleased by, given the number of incredible entries!