The Seal Wife – version 2


I want to take this story and re-write it as a performance piece.
Feedback would be welcome.

The fisherman is all alone and his heart is cold, frozen, he is brusque, distant and fearful that he will become like the icy wind, the stormy sea, he goes in search of a wife.

He brings her back, dark haired, eyes like sloes, sleek skinned, fleshy, the women of his village see her for what she is.

Behind his back, behind their hands, they whisper
“Silkie”
“Seal wife”

But to their faces they are kind, welcoming, they know that they cannot warm the ice at the centre of his heart, they know, though many of them have tried to kindle a little warmth, a little taste of spring, they know that they have failed.

At first, all is well,

The winter storms come, the sea too fierce for the little wooden boats that huddle together in the tiny harbour.

The seal wife has brought wedding gifts;
A wooden chair painted periwinkle blue,
A cooking pot so shiny it fills the room with light
A quilt stuffed with goose feathers, patches of red, gold, green, flashes of summer colour to trick the eyes and heart.

The fisherman and his wife stay indoors buried under the feather quilt, lsitening to the wind howling around the flint covered cottage.
The seal wife opens her arms to him, envelops him in her soft giving body, he feels his heart thaw, his body warm.

Then one morning, the winds drop, the sea is calm and the fisherman leaves the bed that smells of her, leaves their tiny home and prepares to catch the fish.

The seal wife clings to him, weeps, says that the sea is tricking him, that the storm will come back.
At first he is kind, but finally exasperated, he pushes her away, pushes hard and walks toward the harbour.

As he walks he feels the icy coldness grip at his heart again, feels fear, wonders if love has made him less that he used to be, wonders if he can still do battle with the waves and wind and snow.

His is the only boat to leave the shore and as he leaves the little harbour, he turns and sees her, his seal wife, pacing on the shore, her keening louder even than the seagulls screams.

The sailing is easy, the sea gentle, the wind kind and the little boat cuts through the swell, heading for the winter shoals.
The fisherman laughs at the wind, but the wind is only waiting, waiting to trick him and it begins to blow, pushing him out towards the rocks and the fisherman laughs again
“You’re strong, but I’m smart and he tacks against it, heading back to the shore.
And all the time he can feel her eyes, her sloe black eyes burning into him.

The wind is waiting and the wind is watching and it comes round from the west and takes the little boat further and further out to sea.

The fisherman tries everything to escape the storm , but he is cannot fight it, the wind too strong and he feels the cold grow in his heart and he is afraid and he remembers the warmth of his seal wife and the warmth of the bed and the smell of their lovemaking and he prepares to die.

And at that moment on the shore, she stiffens, her head comes up and for just a moment, she pauses and remembers the periwinkle blue chair, the shiny cooking pot, the warmth of their quilt and his weight on her and then she dives.

Into the crashing, grey waves and as she dives she becomes her self, her true self, her true aquatic self and her sloe black eyes are fixed on the tiny wooden boat and the fisherman feels her coming and a warmth grows in him and he knows that he will not die.

Not today.

And when the storm abates and the other fisherman go out to find him, they see his boat, mast snapped, rudder lost and in the stern, curled up, is the fisherman.

Asleep.

And next to him and over him is a seal, keeping him warm, keeping him safe.

But she, is quite, quite dead and the settling snow is almost melted on her back.

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About cathi rae

50ish teacher & aspiring writer and parent of a stroppy teenager and carer for a confused bedlington terrier and a small selection of horses who fail to shar emy dressage ambitions. Interested in contemporary fiction but find myself returning to PG Wodehouse when the chips are down View all posts by cathi rae

One response to “The Seal Wife – version 2

  • Stephen Wright

    There will not be a dry eye in the house. It’s a little abrupt in places, just a few times. Mainly in the storm sequences – It could just be me, read them again and her remembering the periwinkle blue chair seems odd here, but yes I like!

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