(a Magical Midlife Mom story featuring selkies)
"This is not a good idea."
Seven-year-old Sadie rolled her chocolate brown eyes at her best friend, Jordan. "Of course, it's a good idea."
"What if we get caught?"
"We won't get caught."
"That's what you said the last time we got caught."
Sadie snorted, the sound a mixture of her seal form and her current human body. "Just trust me."
Sadie and Jordan huddled under their seal coats, hiding among the herd of perfectly normal harbors seals around them. The herd shifted lazily around them, enjoying the first day of spring sunshine on the Oregon Coast after a long winter.
Sadie knew Jordan would go along with her plan. Jordan always did. That's what best friends were for.
But if Sadie's mother, Rowena, found out, she'd be furious. Rowena discouraged the selkies, half-human and half-seal fae, from interacting with humans as much as possible. Sadie reminded herself this was for the harbor seals' own good. They weren't just messing around for fun.
Jordan suddenly tensed. "They're coming."
Two teenage boys laughed, punching each on the arm as they approached the seal herd. The seals around the girls tensed. Their relatively secluded beach had been invaded...again.
Sadie had been around the first time it happened. The two local boys had found a secret path through the nearby woods and scrambled down the cliffs. They were loud and obnoxious, scaring away most of the wildlife. They loved harassing the sunbathing seals most of all.
"Wait for my signal," Sadie whispered, pulling her fur coat tight around her. The two selkie girls could switch between forms, but they could only transform back into animals with their selkie fur coats.
The boys broke out in a run toward them. A few harbor seals closest to the waves lumbered back into the ocean, but most of the seals wouldn't make it before the boys came at them. They grabbed sticks off the sand, screeching and laughing at the terrified, clumsy seals.
Sadie waited until they'd almost reached the edge of the herd when she yelled, "Now!"
Sadie and Jordan rose from the middle of the herd, draping their pelts over their bodies like robes, and screamed at the top of their lungs.
"LEAVE THE SEALS ALONE!"
The boys nearly fell in the sand. One of them flipped around on his heels, fleeing from the surprise appearance of two howling creatures.
But the second boy stood his ground. "They're just kids!"
The first boy stopped and turned around. "What?"
He pointed at the girls, who were still screaming at them to leave. A smug smile spread across his face. "You don't scare us."
The second boy slowly gained confidence too. "That's right. We're bigger than you."
By this time, most of the seals had managed to get into the water, leaving only Sadie and Jordan behind.
"Now look what you done," the first boy said. "You spoiled our fun."
"Good," Sadie said haughtily. "You shouldn't bother the seals anyway. It's against your laws."
"So?" the second boy asked. "Who's going to stop us? You?"
"They won't," a voice behind the girls replied, "but I will."
A breathtakingly beautiful woman with silver hair and dark skin, the same as the selkie girls, rose out of the water. She'd wrapped her pelt around her as well, but the boys were much more concerned with the sharp trident she held in one hand. It gleamed in the afternoon light, accentuating three sharp points.
She pointed it at the boys.
"If I hear of you bothering the harbor seals again, I will personally skewer you. Do I make myself clear?"
Behind her, the seals who had abandoned the beach bobbed in the waves. They let out a barking roar of approval that drowned out all other noise, even the mighty ocean.
The boys didn't hesitate this time. They ran screeching back toward the cliffside, never looking back.
With the boys gone, Jordan shrunk under the woman's angry gaze. "Rowena, I'm so sorry. It wasn't my idea."
"I know whose idea it was," Rowena said, glaring at Sadie. "You disobeyed my direct order. Neither of you are supposed to interact with humans, especially cruel ones like those boys."
"But they were bothering the herd," Sadie protested. "Someone had to stop them."
"That's an adult job, not for children." Rowena said. "Now come. I must think up a proper punishment for your disobedience."
Sadie gasped. "Not kelp harvesting again. I hate kelp soup."
"Then double shifts of kelp harvesting for you."
As Sadie groaned, Jordan nodded solemnly. "Yes, Rowena."
Sadie lagged behind as her best friend transformed back into a seal and dove into the water. Her bottom lip jutted out in a pout. "Selkies protect the herd. It's my duty."
One last glare from Rowena sent Sadie back into seal form. The harbor pup gave her mother one last baleful look before sinking deep into the sea.
Rowena waited until she'd sulked out of sight before allowing herself a small smile. Her daughter Sadie may be small but she was also fierce. One day, she would be a great leader of the selkies.
Read more about selkies in the Magical Midlife Mom series.