The Selkie's Revenge

'Linger for a moment, gentle sir, for I saw ye catch my eye. Dae ye think me fine, sir? A pretty lass...?

Dae ye like what ye see, sir? Aye...just like a’ the rest. Ye’d hae some pretty thing tae tend your home. Tae cook an’ clean. Tae mop your brow in times o’ strife, an’ whisper sweet, sweet words tae comfort a’ your woes. Tae never answer back.The Selkie

Tae bear your weans, an’ let ye break her heart.

I had a lover, once.

A fisherman, he was. Douce an’ drunken, restin’ by the river as he staggered to his lonely hut, one winter’s night. Saw me ‘pon the river-bank – though I did not spy him. A seal he thought, at first – a pest tae baffle his fine nets an’ steal his fish awa’. But then he saw me slip my skin, walk bare upon the shore in human form – as my kind dae in dead o’ night, safe frae sight o’ mortal eyes - the moon bright on my bare white flesh. An’, sure...that pleased his eye.

Sure, Selkie'd like it fine if she could keep awa frae pryin’ eyes, but mortal man is drawn tae such as she.

When, at last, I saw him...I was lost. For he had snatched my hide awa’, and wouldna gie it back...wouldna let me back tae the water’s edge, put on my pelt, an' shirk this mortal flesh...lest I would be his Selkie-bride an’ gie him what he did desire most - sons, tae dandle ‘pon their faither’s knee an’ toil beside him on his boat...sure, wae sons like that, he'd gather twice the fish wae hauf the toil!

If I did that for him, he swore, he’d gie me back my skin an’ set me free. I warned him that the cost o’ his desire might be too high for baith o’ us...but deafened by his greed he wadna hear me.

Four sons I had by him.

Born blind an’ deaf. Slack jawed an’ simple. Limbs like sticks. Bonnie faces, mind...browed wae braw, thick, oily pelt...an’ eyes...eyes as black an’ dark as the river’s deep. The fisherman? He howled when first he looked upon his boys; bid me hide them, lest the neighbours spy them hirplin’ doon the shore, chitterin’ like rats....oh but they were a’ fine swimmers, e’en then, my bonnie bairns. But ye might hae guessed at that, I’m sure.

He ca’d his boys beglamoured; mair fish than men. He searched their skins for marks o’ witchery. Bid me ne’er let them leave oor howff. Said he couldna bear the sly and sleekit jibes that soon would come. Sure, he must hae known his heirs would be as much my kind as his.

Thick wae drink. Ragin’. Sayin’ as he wished he’d ne’er ta’en a Selkie wife, he took my pelt, an’ cast it on the fire...bound me tae this form. Laid his brave, blind bairns upon their cots...hands flappin’, herring-eyed, as he went along the line...took out his gutting knife...an’ took them from me...

He buried them, along the river-side, then turned his eyes frae me...would not meet my eye. And I...I did not weep for them. I lay a blanket on their graves – tae keep them warm.

I hung four stones upon a necklace.

I wore four rings upon my hand.

I set four candles burnin’ by their empty cots, an’ – as my drunken lover slept – I took his knife...an honoured a’ our bonnie boys.

I had a lover...once!'

 

Taken from Stirling GhostWalk 2014

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