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The Selkie Wife: A Short Story Inspired by Celtic Folklore - Chapter 2

Jennifer Wilber is an author and freelance writer from Ohio. She holds a B.A. in creative writing and English.


The Selkie Wife - Chapter 2

Conall opened his eyes. His entire body ached and he didn't know where he was or what had happened. He tried to get to his feet, but he didn't have the strength to move. As he became more aware of his surroundings, he realized that his clothing was torn and he was completely drenched. Wet sand covered every inch of his body. The sun was straight above him in the sky, and he knew it must be mid-day already. How long had he been unconscious? What happened? And why was he laying on the beach?

Conall looked around and noticed that he wasn't far from the lighthouse. Suddenly his memories came flooding back to him. He remembered the storm the night before, the lightning that struck near the lighthouse, and the waves crashing down against his boat. And he realized that his Mairenn was gone.

Despite the pain, Conall quickly attempted to get to his feet. If he made it to shore alive, perhaps Mairenn did as well. If there was a chance that she was still alive, he had to find her. His knee gave out and he fell back into the sand. But he would not give up. It was his fault for taking her out in the boat in the first place. He had to find her.

After some struggle, Conall managed to stay on his feet. He made his way up and down the shoreline, however slowly, calling out Mairenn's name. "Mairenn!" he cried out. "Where are you?" He knew in his heart that she was still alive, somewhere. She had to be. Or perhaps he just couldn't deal with the fact that she was gone. He continued his search for hours.

The sun was beginning to set and still there was no sign of Mairenn. But still Conall could not give up. He knew she had to be somewhere. How could he have washed ashore while she was still lost at sea? What kind of cruel-fated joke was this? He knew that somewhere the sea gods were looking down on him laughing. They provided the young fisherman with his livelihood, what was stopping them from taking away his life, or the only thing in his life that really mattered?

Not that he even believed in the gods or supernatural beings anyway. Even Conall knew that it was all a myth devised by their ancestors in simpler times, as a way to explain the storms and the unpredictable nature of the sea. No, he realized that it was all myth when he was just a boy after his father was lost at sea. Conall's father had been a good man. He had been a fisherman, the family trade, and had always worked hard to provide for his family. There could be no just reason for the gods to take him away from his wife and young son, just as there could be no just reason for them to take Mairenn away from Conall now. No, there were no gods. And Conall was alone.

Conall walked down the shoreline a little farther, though his efforts were in vain. He had already been up and down the shore more times than he could count. The rising and falling of the tide seemed to mock him; the same tide that brought him to the shore and safety. The same tide that failed to bring back Mairenn.

His legs were getting tired and he had to find a place to rest. He found a boulder at the edge of the water and sat down, facing the sea. The waves splashed gently against his legs. The same waves, he thought, that had been so deadly the night before. He stared out into the sea. Somewhere out there, he knew his Mairenn was still lost at sea. There was still a chance, no matter how small, that she was alright, and for the sake of his sanity, he couldn't let go of that small glimmer of hope.


After a time, Conall noticed a spotted seal on a boulder not too far from where he sat. Conall watched as it stared back at him. It had a certain familiar sadness about it. Or perhaps Conall was only projecting his own feelings onto the animal. He couldn't help but watch it, if only to take his mind off other things.

A few moments later, the seal jumped into the sea and swam away. Conall stood up from the rock to watch as it disappeared into the darkness of the night water. At that moment, Conall realized that Mairenn was gone forever. Conall laid down next to the boulder. He wasn't sure if he would ever get up. Perhaps he would just lay there on the shore until the tide came in to deliver him to Mairenn.

Find Out what Happens Next in Chapter 3

  • The Selkie Wife Chapter 3
    It has been an entire year since Mairenn was lost at sea, and Conall still hasn't accepted her death. He wants to end it all, but will something save him?

If you missed Chapter 1:

  • The Selkie Wife: Chapter 1
    Tragedy strikes when an Irish fisherman and his wife run into a bit of bad weather on the sea in the first chapter of this short story based on Celtic folklore.

© 2018 Jennifer Wilber

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