moonsun- selkie au

like spring that suddenly comes (i keep feeling like love will come too)

“Wheein-ah, do seals wave at people?”

 

Wheein blinked owlishly at Byulyi who was in the middle of tugging off her thigh high rubber boots in the locker room.

 

“What?”

 

Byulyi felt her face warm at the incredulous glance she was receiving so she buried her head in the locker.  She the yellowing magazine clipping of Krystal posing onstage front in center with smokey eyes and pouting lips. 

 

“It’s just uh, I was collecting some samples out in the bay today and I thought I saw a seal wave at me.”

 

“Unnie… I think you’ve been staying up playing too many games.”

 

“You’re probably right. Sleep deprivation makes more sense than a seal… waving at me.”

 

When Byulyi shut her locker she was startled to see Wheein leaning close with almost pitying eyes.  

 

“Unnie, if you’re lonely you could ask and I’d wave at you.”

 

Byulyi rolled her eyes and shoved away the giggling girl with a groan.  Obviously she was just being silly. Seals waving at her.  Preposterous.

 


 

Byulyi was in a skiff in the late afternoon, gathering more kelp samples with a long fishing net.  In the fall, the kelp beds were lush with different marine animals swimming around.  Especially seals.

 

She saw one floating by in particular with lazy , nosing along her small boat with twitching whiskers.  Its eyes were large and moist, a gentle brown that made her think of a friendly Labrador retriever she’d seen at the park the other day.  Even though she was a marine biologist and seals were ridiculously common in her line of work, she never could hide her amusement at how doglike they were.

 

“Hello there, little guy,” she said with a smile.

 

The seal cocked its head at her in greeting, blinking slowly like it was processing the statement.

 

“You enjoying your day?”

 

A braying bark was her reply.

 

She giggled, her nose wrinkling as she turned to dump the kelp in a sterilized jar at her feet.  When she glanced up, the seal was still there, mouth open in what could be called a smile.

 

“I can’t feed you, you know.  Part of my pact as a marine biologist is to not disturb the natural fauna.”

 

The seal seemed to pout a little at that, its rotund face puckering in distaste.  Byulyi just shrugged helplessly and pulled at the motor of her boat, letting the engine rev slowly so as to not startle the creature.  It whined as it began to swim away, but not before raising its flipper in what had to be a wave.  

 

Byulyi’s mouth dropped a little and she squinted at the ripping water where the seal had disappeared.

 


 

It was a week since the waving incident and Byulyi felt a little crazy as she sat at the beach of Gwanganli at night with a can of beer and a popsicle in hand.  Busan fall nights were pleasant compared to home at Bucheon in the north.  Her eyes fluttered a little as she sipped contentedly at her beer, smelling the salty tang of sea water with the savory scents of various street food stalls.

 

“Hello.”

 

Byulyi blinked slowly before turning to see a girl in an over-sized fishing shirt and dirty jeans that were so long they were rolled several times at the ankle.  Her long dark hair was wavy and she kept pushing it out of her eyes with an irritated hand.  

 

“If you’re a cult member trying to convert me, I’m not interested in religion.”

 

The girl tilted her head in confusion, squinting her large brown eyes like she barely understood half the words Byulyi said.

 

“Can I sit next to you?”

 

“Uh, sure.  You’re not going to convert me right? Or drug me to take a kidney?”

 

“What are you… humans are so weird.  I mean we, humans, are very strange. Yes.”

 

Byulyi blinked slowly as she tried to process the sentence and the girl took the silence as an invitation to plop down right next to her.

 

“Are you going to finish that?”

 

“What?”

 

The girl pointed to the melting popsicle that was leaving a trail of cream down her thumb.

 

“Uh no.  You want it?”

 

The girl’s eyes lit up and her face pulled into a huge smile and wow she sure was pretty. For someone who was probably a cult member.  

 

“I would want nothing more than to eat that delicious looking substance.”

 

“You mean a popsicle?”

 

“Yes.  I want that. Popsicle.”

 

Byulyi wordlessly handed it to her and watched as the girl immediately bit at the top of the ice cream, eyes squeezing shut in bliss.

 

“This is so wonderful!” she practically moaned, wiggling her shoulders in a barely contained dance.

 

“Yeah, ice cream is pretty amazing.”

 

“I thought you said this was a … popsicle.”

 

“I mean they’re kind of the same thing.  It’s made with ice cream.  I guess you could call it both interchangeably.”

 

The girl frowned, pouting a little and Byulyi was struck by a strange sense of deja vu.

 

“Have I met you before?”

 

“Yes.  I don’t approach humans that I do not know.”

 

“Where did I meet you then? I think I’d remember someone as pretty as-”  Byulyi choked on her words, trying to stop herself from completely putting her foot in and hitting on a near stranger.

 

But the girl seemed oddly pleased at the statement, grinning with a mouthful of the last of the ice cream.  It was simultaneously extremely gross but also strangely endearing.

 

“You think I’m pretty? I suppose this form is rather aesthetically pleasing.  When I was trying to find you I had many humans approach me.”

 

Byulyi sighed.  Pretty and vain, what a killer combination.  

 

“Anyway, where did I meet you?”

 

“We’ve met a few times.  I always see you on that boat picking at the seaweed.  I actually wanted to ask you why you go out there for that stuff when it doesn’t even taste very good.”

 

Byulyi paused as she watched the girl sadly examine her popsicle stick before gnaw on it experimentally.  

 

“Wait, that’s impossible.  I only meet seals out there.”

 

Instantly the girl’s face went slack, like she’d been caught.  

 

“Um… seals? I’m not a seal! I don’t know what you’re talking about, you’re so strange!”

 

Byulyi squinted in confusion as the girl quickly handed her the gnawed on popsicle stick before standing.

 

“Well I must be off to attend to… human things? Anyway, I’ll see you around!”

 

She waved one hand with a bright smile before walking off, fading into the crowd of people walking down the board walk in a few seconds.

 

Byulyi frowned as she realized that she had just found out the answer to her question.  Seals could wave after all.  

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