He satÂ with the sealskin folded in his grip,Â idly rubbing it withÂ a thumb as it rested in his lap.
He remembered the day it fell into his possession ~Â still clear and sharp in his mind’s eye ~Â the gentle sway of her hips, the nuanced play of her hair on the sea breeze, her lithe, supple body erect before him.
Time… had not been kind.
Running his hand over the surface of the stiff material and studying theÂ rippled rings of salt crust, he wondered why he still kept it. He’d earned it, he told himself.
No, I gave it to you, the smirk in her voice echoed inside his head asÂ his grip tightened unconsciously on the hide. Much as he fervently wished to deny the truth, it remained stubbornly etched in memory.
Out there ~ somewhere ~Â was a woman whose tresses flowed the colour of honey, andÂ whose piercing gaze was as a tempest at sea.Â Did sailor chanties spill from ruby lips as she mended linens, he wondered idly, or did sheÂ yet spend her days charming the fish from the Â ocean with her siren’s call?
Selkies wereÂ a force of natureÂ not meant to be caged; why had she voluntarily clipped her wings? The abusedÂ hide crumpled in hand, forgotten,Â as he burned with shame and the knowledgeÂ he had been too cowardly to find out.
Unworthy to touch her fire, he amended silently, tossing the sealskin across the bed as he left the room.
She hummed softly asÂ she worked the comb through her hair, smiling to herself as she watched the beautiful creature
sleep soundly under layers of fur.
Â Who needed the ocean when she had been given wings to fly?