The Stories She Tells Herself
by Kelly Sandoval
He stole her skin. Yes, that's the one. He stole her skin, so he had her heart. Or her soul. The part of her that would have fought him otherwise.
She remembers the before. A life that tasted of salt and crunched between her teeth like fish bones. She shared the waves with her sisters, and they were fierce, the lot of them. What was a second form when measured against the chilly caress of waves and the laughter of her siblings?
But she liked to wander. She liked the feeling of her skin as she peeled it off, the sharp, painful tug of it. The sounds it made, the wet noise of separation, made her shiver. Without her pelt, she was pale and unpleasant, all frail, pathetic humanity. Gone was the muscle and weight of her true form, gone were teeth made to tear raw flesh from bone.
She felt like a fish, all brittle scales and no coral to hide in. There was an allure to such vulnerability. The day he found her, she'd hidden her skin in the shadow of a boulder and gone walking where the water met the rocks. The wind stung her eyes and her fragile human skin. She rubbed the raised flesh of her bare arms, glad at the life she didn't have to live.
Until he took it. She felt him pick it up. The stomach twisting shock of an unfamiliar hand stroking her pelt. The tug, right at the core of her, drawing her toward him.