Anne B. Walsh - Do you believe in magic?
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Anne's Randomness

The sea-bride

Some days having an author-minder is more trouble than help. She thinks she has all these advantages just because we share a house and a pair of dogs (and soon, we hope, a pair of cats as well). She thinks she can nudge me into writing in the universe she'd like most to see, just by giving me big pleading eyes and offering me treats.
 
Isn't it sad that she understands me so well? Here, by special request, is today's Fiction Friday story, from the universe of the Chronicles of Glenscar. One of the characters therein would like to tell you more about himself, and why a couple of the things you learned about him in A Widow in Waiting weren't entirely correct...
 
More DV later today, I hope, and possibly more originals soon. Sales are always very, very nice things to see, and definitely inspire me to write more sooner! Thanks to everyone who's bought books, and please, tell your friends!
 
*****
 
My wife isn't sure she likes my putting our tale down on paper, but what if something should happen to me on the land one of these days, says I? My power is sculpting water, and hers are all to do with water as well, so that on the green grass and beneath the shady trees we're at less of an advantage than some. And yet I've never lost my love for such things, and even my Maeve admits their beauty, though she'd rather our own dear sunning rock, or a nap on the beach beneath the sun...
 
But I'm getting ahead of myself. My apologies.
 
My name is Richard Laverty, and if you know the tale of the Widow in Waiting, you may recall my being mentioned therein. My Maeve may be a puzzle to you, for that tale spoke of me as a bachelor, but do remember that the lady who wove the story for your reading had her facts about our little village of Glenscar from my honorary nephew Sean Marlowe. And for all his birth among us on Ireland's shores, and all the power of true dreaming that's in him, there's times young Sean's English blood masters him, and so a few things about Glenscar he's never learned. His sister, now, pretty Grainne...
 
But Grainne's tale will be told another day, for this tale is mine.
 
My brother Alexander and I lived our childhood years in two very different worlds. One was the land, with the scent of the green growing things about which Alexander's power is twined, the crops we sow and reap for our food, the trees that shelter our houses from wind and weather. The other was the sea, with all its moods and colors ever changing, never to be taken a moment for granted, but respected and treated with proper care, to yield us its own share of food and carry us home safely at the end of the day.
 
We must have been lads of ten or twelve before we fully understood why our father Daniel, and his father before him, and the men of the Laverty line as long as our stories stretch, had no terror of the sea. For our great-grandmother, for all that she went to Mass without fear when the priest came, had cherished all of her life her precious sealskin cloak, for a selkie she was and always had been. She'd come from the sea to wed our great-grandfather in accordance with an old, old bargain between our two houses, and the terms of that bargain called for a fresh match between land and sea every three generations. Which meant, as our father explained to us one night, that the choice to wed a selkie maid must come to one of us.
 
Alexander liked the hearing of this little enough, since he had his eye already on Ellen O'Grady, the yellow-haired daughter of our neighbor, but for myself, I was intrigued. The girls I'd seen when our father took us to towns and cities to sell our catch, or at fairs and festivals where we traveled with our mother to bargain her linen thread for seeds and herbs—they were well enough, I thought, but how many of them would toss up their hands and scream in horror the first time they saw me draw water from the well without benefit of a bucket, or Alexander coax the weeds trying to choke our sprouting oats that they'd be happier somewhere else? Whereas a sea-bride would have her own powers, different from ours though they might be, and would have no fears of demons or devils among us.
 
And so I went down to the strand one moonlit night and sat at the edge of the water, and sent out my powers into the sea, and it wasn't long before I had an answer, for up swam a sleek little seal along the path the moonbeams made. She looked long and hard at me, and I at her, and then with a rush she beached herself, and rose onto her back flippers, and then—
 
Then there stood the loveliest girl I ever had seen. She was near my own age, dark of hair and eye alike, with her sealskin cloak hanging loose from her shoulders, and beneath it a gown of finest linen all embroidered with waves and seaweed, though its hem showed dark with damp. Her feet were bare, and where she stepped her footprints would fill with water, for no selkie can truly be parted from the sea.
 
"And what is it you're wanting with me, boy?" she challenged me, in Irish as good as my own.
 
"To meet you, if we're to be wed someday," was my answer. "And don't you call me boy!"
 
"What should I call you, then?" she asked, looking down her long, straight nose at me.
 
"Call me by my name," said I.
 
"And if I've never heard your name?"
 
"Perhaps you should ask me what it is."
 
She scoffed. "Perhaps you should ask me what mine is first."
 
"Why should I?"
 
"Because you called to me, not the other way around." She sniffed with disdain, and made as if to pull her cloak over her head. "But if you don't want me here after all—"
 
"I beg your pardon, I'm sure," I said hastily. "May I have the privilege of your name?"
 
The girl stopped, and looked at me with favor in her eyes for the first time. "So you do have some manners," she said, and dropped me a curtsey. "I'm known as Maeve, and you?"
 
"Richard I'm called." I bowed in answer. "It's a pleasure to meet you, my lady."
 
And that is the tale of the first time I saw my Maeve. How we fell in love and wed, and why even my own nieces know nothing of their sea-aunt and cousins...well, as you've heard in other places, that is a story for another day.

4 Comments to The sea-bride:

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NotACat on Friday, August 22, 2014 10:20 AM
This is all getting a little meta…not that I dislike that, of course ;-) Let's not worry about such a trivial thing as a fourth wall, let's just enjoy a nice little story told by a master storyteller ^_^ More, please!
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Alex Conall on Friday, August 22, 2014 12:32 PM
Ooooooh I like!
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Scott on Friday, August 22, 2014 12:43 PM
Ooh. Fun story, I'd be glad to hear more of Richard and Maeve someday. Selkies do rather seem to fit Glenscar, though I'd previously thought of them as more Scottish than Irish - I suppose when you live in the ocean, you can come to land wherever you please.
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greatlakesmolly on Sunday, August 24, 2014 4:11 PM
I'm glad to see other stories being born to your head and heart and fingers even as the first big one is climbing to its climax. The old stories are the best new ones, I think. I especially like that looking for a wife this way calls for courtesy and humility on his part. I look forward very much to the immediate story, and also the new ones.
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