Monday, July 24, 2017

Water Claire

In the time that came after, the story of Water Claire took different forms. It was told and retold; things were forgotten, or shaped and changed. Always, though, there was this truth: that she came from the sea, flung in by that fearsome December storm years before.

Some said she was found, later, when the scudding clouds pulled aside and showed low sun in early evening: that she was there on the strip of beach, her clothes half torn from her, and they thought she was dead till she stirred and her eyes opened to show the deep amber-flecked green that later all remembered the same.

Others said no, it was Tall Andras who saw her in the waves, who threw himself in and grabbed her by her long hair as she clung to a thick wood beam, that he swam with her till he could stand, and when they looked her was there in the churning broth of sea with her in his thick arms, her head against his beard, and that he said but one word: "Mine."

Children said she was carried in by dolphins and they made games of it, and rhymes, but all that was just tale-spinning and fun, and no one took it to be true.

Others murmured "selkie" from time to time when she was remembered, but only as a fanciful tale. The selkie stories of seal creatures were well known, oft told, and in all of them there was a shed skin. Water Claire had come in clothing, though it had been shredded by the gritty winter sea. She was human. There was no seal to her.

Or mermaid, either.

She was a human girl sent to them by the sea, who stayed among them for a time, became a woman, and went away again.

Lois Lowry, 'Son'