A Return | Teen Ink

A Return

March 16, 2010
By redsoxandsunshine SILVER, Hamilton, Massachusetts
redsoxandsunshine SILVER, Hamilton, Massachusetts
8 articles 0 photos 24 comments

When it calls your name, you know that you must go.
The trees have been silent for too long, and the wind that rushes through them is no longer warm but a mind-numbing cold, howling through the rattling, bone-like branches. It is no longer summer. The birds no longer call out to each other; they have all gone south away from the chill. You should have flown with them, but you could not find the wings to soar.

These legs keep you planted on the ground, so much so that when you move it feels like walking through the syrup from the barren maple trees that surround you. But it is inevitable, this journey, and if you did not go of your own accord you would be dragged to your destiny. Dry branches crackle beneath you, with the lack of snow this year a match could set fire to the trees and turn them into an inferno. The legs will soon be gone, and this plodding, trudging, will be over.
You smell the salt in the air, and at the edge of the forest the only trees are spindly and frail saplings. When you pass, their trunks shiver, blown back by the invisible gale that leaves a saline tang behind. You do not belong in the woods, but the trees have kept you company. They can no longer fill that duty.
It is still there on the cliff edge as you knew it would be. You walk towards it, the call ever stronger and the bitter sea wind ever sweeter.
Standing on the edge with the skin in your hand, you take one last look at the rough cliff edges and the choppy waves. You slip it on, and hands become flippers, smooth skin becomes strong and slippery, and legs become a powerful tail that will drive you through icy depths and warm currents alike. The fall is barely anything for a seal, and the sea pulls you even more quickly to your haven. Your home for the winter embraces, swallows you up. It sings to you as the trees did in the summer, and you call back.

The author's comments:
Even when the selkies of ancient legend live on the land as humans, they always need to return to the sea and their true forms as seals. That is what inspired this vignette.

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