Erik David Even
What I Write
As Lewis headed to the bathroom, Agatha moved to a side table and set down her bag. She turned to face the group, who were all still staring at her.
“Everyone,” Agatha began, “I must ask that you follow one rule, which is please do not touch my sealskin. You’re free to borrow any of my other possessions, but please do not touch or move this one. Only I am to touch it.”
As she said this, she gave an especially hard look to Woolsthorpe. If he was a bounder, he knew the stories about young male Earthlings stealing a Saelkie’s skin to force her into “marriage” – “sexual slavery” as her friends in Manhattan had called it. Agatha did not know this man, and did not trust him yet.
No one seemed to know how to respond to this. The eleven-year-old, Rosie, put up her hand like she was asking a question in school. Agatha turned to her.
“Are you a were-seal?” Rosie asked.
Agatha had heard this term before, and it was offensive. An Ulfsark would feel the same way about “werewolf.” None of the Changing Folk of Hartbury used “were-“ names, except for the Weremice.
But the girl didn’t know. “Yes,” Agatha said, “but the proper word is ‘Saelkie.’”
“Can you turn into a seal right now?” David the nine-year-old asked.
Normally Agatha was offended when new people – new Earthling people – asked her to change on command. But these were just children.
Agatha decided she could put on a little show. She had done it enough at the sideshow for strangers, as humiliating as that had been. She could do it for these innocent kids.
Agatha pulled her sealskin out of its bag, unfolded it, and began to drape it across her own shoulders. As she did, she changed into her Between form.
Jane, the seven-year-old, screeched in mixed surprise and excitement, and Joshua, her twin, jumped to his feet on the bed. Rosie stood up in amazed surprise, and David remained seated on the floor but popped upright. Even the bounder seemed taken aback.
In her Between form, Agatha was a seal, but a humanoid one – what a seal might look like if it were one of the Speaking Folk (there were no speaking seals in Hartsbury.) She was the same height as her Mannish form, about five feet eight inches; and her arms ended in hands that were splayed and clawed like flippers. Her feet too were a combination of foot and flipper. Her clothes had disappeared, but she was completely covered in white fur speckled gray that hid anything the others should not be seeing. Her head was that of a seal, but perhaps a bit shorter in the snout.
“What do you think?” Agatha asked, her voice much deeper and more resonant.
“Can you turn all the way into a seal?” he asked breathlessly.
Suddenly Agatha felt embarrassed. She had of course performed this “trick” thousands of times for strangers, but those hadn’t been people she was just about to spend ten days with on an adventure. They had been tourists she would never see again, mostly. There had been the “regulars,” all men, who visited her at the sideshow all the time, but that was a whole other problem.
She suddenly did not want to be performing, she wanted to refuse. But she couldn’t treat the children that way. Agatha had agreed to change form – might as well go all the way.
She changed to her Trueform, and fell forward onto her front flippers. Jane screamed again. Agatha almost didn’t fit now in the area between the side table and the one bed. Her Trueform, her “seal” form, was six feet long from her snout to the tip of her tail.
Agatha looked up at the children and the bounder as they gaped at her. It still seemed strange that the bounder was so surprised. He must have encounter Changing Folk before.
“Can you talk?” David asked.
Agatha shook her head, and then gave them a bit of sealsong, a long honking groan punctuated with clicks. The room was spacious, but still a confined space, and the call was very loud. The children put their hands to their ears. Saelkies always found it very amusing that sealsong, which was so beautiful to their ears, was considered ugly cacophonous noise to every other race.
|What I Write||
I am a graduate of Clarion West 2011. I am currently working a third novel while I shop the first two around.
My Write-a-thon Goals
During the write-a-thon, I intend to write 30,000 words of the first draft of my third novel.
If I could get ten people to donate $10, that would be $100, because math.