• Vol. 09
  • Chapter 03
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Bathing At The Edge Of Life

It was when the otter appeared that she realised things weren't quite right. One might imagine that the tiny tittering mermaids or the sea lion swimming circles around her left knee would have done the job, but hey, she’d had a lot on her mind that day.

“I will do nothing today,” she’d declared to herself that morning.

That hadn’t always been the plan. But then The Call happened—a day-ruining sort of call that would upset anyone. But for her, it was the final straw in a series of final straws that had been culminating for months, now weighing her down so forcefully she could no longer evade collapse.

So, she would do no work, no thinking, no nothing—aside from drawing a bath.

The bath had other ideas.

It had been normal at first, the scalding heat easing her burdens as she gently lowered herself into the tub. Lying back brought forth the kind of clarity that can only be reached at searing temperatures. This had been a good decision.

Then her phone began to ring, naturally.

She groaned. She could have sworn she’d turned it off. She refused to get out of the bath, refused to give in. It would stop ringing eventually, surely.

It did not.


Bathing At The Edge Of Life

Tears of frustration stung her eyes and clouded her vision, threatening to descend down her cheeks at any moment. She would not let them.

She turned her attention instead to the pint-sized mermaid at the edge of the bathtub. It was humming a song, a familiar one. Something from her childhood? She tried to listen, but it was hard when the sea lion splashed so loudly.

Then the otter plunged into the bath, nearly drowning her and shattering the illusion that any of this was normal in the process. The phone was suddenly louder than ever, now accompanied by a banging on the door. It was him.

“I need to talk to you. Open the door. Please!” he shouted.

She didn’t move, only squeezed her eyes shut, hoping it would make everything go away. When she opened them again, the otter’s beady gaze was too close.

She screamed. Her bathing companions dove into the water in fright, pulling the plug and presumably exiting down the drain. The otter remained, however, its gaze unwavering.

“You needn’t be frightened,” it said in a sing-song voice, high like a woman’s. “I’ll leave if you like. But you could also come with us. It’s up to yourself.”


Bathing At The Edge Of Life

All she could do was blink at the strange offer. When she did, the otter suddenly had a woman’s face and upper body, and a tail like a seal’s. That’s when it dawned on her; they were all selkies. Selkies come to set her free.


The selkie smiled. “You’ll see.”

A vague, but alluring offer, it was far preferable to the demanding cacophony awaiting her beyond the bath, beyond the rapidly draining water leaving her cold and hollow.

Without another word or thought, she followed.