Tell us a little about yourself and where you live:
I was born to two Scottish immigrants in the year 1953. My parents had been saving for the money for years in an effort to move to the United States, and free themselves of the life they had been living for years; a life of poverty, and barely making ends meet. Looking back now I am more than happy with the things they did so I could be born in America. After five years of working late nights, and saving all he could my father had enough to make the move. It was just in time as well because my mother was already three months pregnant, and her number one fear was that I would not be an American citizen. My mother gave birth to me in early February, and my father had just gotten a job as a car salesman. His boss said their customers loved his Scottish accent, and that he was sure he would sell him more cars than any other salesmen on the lot. My mother quickly became interested in American literature, and decided to become a librarian at our local library. We moved to a small suburban neighborhood just outside of Boston. I was born in Suffolk County right in Boston Regional Medical Center. My mother suffered from a terrible delivery that left her hospitalized for about six weeks. They were not sure if she would survive or not. The entire ordeal left my father devastated, but her only response was,
“Douglas, we fulfilled our wish. Our daughter was born an American.” My mother chose my name then not even hesitating to smile, and place a tender kiss to my forehead before telling my father what it was, “Vanna, which means God is a vow. For the middle name Leisa, meaning Devoted to God.”
“I think that fits her perfectly. Vanna Leisa MacAllister our American daughter and the answer to our prayers.” It was then that my father leant over to place first a kiss to my mother, Gillian’s forehead, and then one to mine.
My parents never had another child after me. I remember asking my mother when I was about fifteen why she never attempted to have a son for my father’s sake at least. Her reply was, “I wanted to, but Douglas wouldn’t hear of it. All he wanted was to spoil you.” I never did understand that about my father. I always figured all men wanted to have a son, but when I was about twelve years of age I found out more about why he had to get out of Scotland.
My parents were not human. In fact the race that they were had been being overhunted for so long that they had refrained from turning to their normal selves for the entirety of my lifetime. Had I not had a mishap myself I probably never would have known there was something different about me. Not different in the way of evil, but different in the way of genetics.
I remember I was eager to go to the beach with some friends, and my mother never wanted me to. It was odd considering we lived so close to the Nantucket Sound you would have figured my mother was used to beach going. Yet, somehow she always refrained from visiting the sea. Even to the point where she wouldn’t even allow seawater near her. I thought it was insanity, but it was the day before I was supposed to accompany my friends, and I was still adamant that it was not fair that I could not go with them. She had no real excuse, and I desperately wanted to go. I had argued with her for almost the entire day to the point that she had grounded me, and wanted my father to have a talk with me due to my disrespecting her. I couldn’t get over it, and I had waited eagerly for hours to have that talk. Finally he walked into the room, and with a look of perplexity he spoke to me,
“Vanna, why did you disrespect your mother today?” He asked with one hand on the doorknob, and the other resting against the frame.
“I didn’t disrespect her, dad. I just asked her why she wouldn’t let me go to the beach with Margaret, and Elisabeth. Even Mrs. Rogers asked if it was all right. Normally mom has no problem allowing me to do things with their family. Why can’t I go to the beach?” I asked him in a somber tone with tears welling in my eyes. My father sighed stepping into my room, and closing the door behind him. He came to sit on the edge of my bed, and put his right hand on my knee.
“Vanna, there is something we need to tell you, but I don’t know if your mom knows how. I don’t even know if I know how.” He frowned. I looked back at him, and furrowed my brows slightly wondering what this meant.
“Well, maybe I should just show.” He responded. I leant back slightly, and narrowed my eyes.
“Show me what, dad?” I asked.
“Get your jacket on, and go wait in the car. I have to go get your mom.” He replied. Standing up to exit my room, and proceed to the kitchen where my mother was busy fixing supper. I nodded, and went to my closet pulling my jacket from a hanger, and slipping it over my shoulders. As I listened to my father speaking to my mom I slowly walked down the staircase attempting to eavesdrop on what he said.
“Gillian, she deserves to know the truth. We can’t hide it from her forever. What will happen if she shifts one day while in college? You know she won’t understand unless we teach her. It’s our responsibility. We may have escaped the poachers, but we can’t escape what we are. “His voice sounded stern, and the only thing I heard afterward was the muffled cries of my mother as she placed her head against his chest, “But she’s our baby. Our baby, Douglas, how can I protect her?” she sobbed.
“Stop it she’ll hear you. She’s going to get in the car now. Let’s go.” My father replied. I could hear my mother sniffling slightly, and decided this was the moment to quicken my pace. So I crossed the foyer quickly, and stepped outside. Thankfully it wasn’t too cold tonight, but it was drizzling rain. I hated when the weather was like this. It made me feel dreary, and sad. I walked up to the car, and lifting the handle I lowered myself to sit in the backseat. It seemed like an eternity before my mother, and father came out of the house. Both of them were silent as they entered the vehicle. My father put the key in the ignition, and quickly turned it over. Placing the vehicle into reverse he finally opened his mouth, “Vanna, your mother loves you. She only wants to protect you, and I am about to show you why.” Again I frowned uncertain of what would happen next. After a few minutes we pulled into an empty beach parking lot. I could see the boardwalk from where we parked.
“Dad why are we at the beach?” I asked confused casting my gaze between the two for any explanation, but it was my mother who offered me one, “Because Vanna, we are Selkie.” She smiled, and opened the car door exiting quickly, but only to go to the trunk and remove two pelts. I watched her taking out the finest furs I had ever seen, and as my father came from around the driver’s side I spotted my mother passing him one. I was floored. What were they doing, and why? I could make no sense of anything, or why they kept two pelts in the trunk of our vehicle. I had never seen them in my life, but apparently they had been there for some time. I opened the door, and stepped outside looking from my mom to my dad, and finally I whispered, “What’s a Selkie?”
“That is what I am about to show you, my girl.” My father replied. He went around the car with my mother, and began walking towards the tide as it washed onto the beach. It was low tide, and it was also late enough in the day that not many people were here. This was also probably because of the rain. I watched as my parents disappeared around the bend of a large rock. It was impossible to see them at this point, but I decided I needed to catch up. As I came around the corner I spotted both of them putting the pelts on their now nude bodies. I couldn’t see their nakedness, but I knew they were both completely naked at that moment saves for the pelts they had used to cover themselves. When I was finally about four feet from them I stared in disbelief. My parents are crazy, I thought. Suddenly my mother began reciting something odd in a language I did not understand. It must have been Gaelic because I couldn’t imagine it to be anything else. Then my father repeated the same sentence only adding an extra line. At that moment the rain ceased in its entirety, and the sea seemed to calm itself. I looked between them hesitantly only to watch them shift into seals right before my very eyes.
“Oh, my God!” I shrieked. I had never been more frightened in my life. Suddenly they both came waddling towards me, and both of them pressed their wet noses against the palms of my hands. First my mother on my right, and then my father on the left; then they began to bark at me. My eyes shifted from one to other, and before I knew it I too was in seal form. My clothes having fallen from my body as they two barked whatever seal language they had barked in. What happened next was exhilarating. They went bounding for the ocean, and barking. Suddenly I understand what they were saying as I too could speak the language of the Selkie. I followed after them into the crashing white of seawater. My parents frolicked with me like this for about two hours before finally urging me back towards the beach, and all of our clothes. Finally we were back in our human ‘skins’, and traveling back to the house. It was quiet almost the entire ride until we were on our street.
“What will happen if I never put my pelt back on?” I asked.
“Then you will remain human, and live-forever. Unless you are killed, but you will never age and die like a human will.” My father answered.
“I hope you never do use your pelt again.” My mother said.
“Why? Did you not enjoy our family time at the beach?” I asked.
“It’s not that, Vanna. It is that our race has been all but annihilated by poachers in Scotland. This is why your father and I wanted to move here. So you could be free, and live a happy life. A life without being hunted.” She didn’t say anything else after this. Instead she remained silent for the rest of the evening, and my father did as well. It made no difference to me as I was tired myself, and decided to make it an early night by heading to bed. It was a surprising occurrence, and I knew then it would shape me into the woman I was to become.
Ten years passed before I ever considered going back to the water, and by then both of my parents had grown to be a lot older. Neither of them was going to die on me, of course, but I still felt like I was living in a world completely different from their own. I had decided to get myself into college, and go for a journalism degree. I wanted to write, and travel the world. To see the things I had never gotten to see like Scotland, and learn something about the legend of the Selkie. I had big plans for myself, and I really wanted to make a name that was all my own. Without an overshadowing overprotective mother, and a father who did everything he could to provide for us both. My father did a fantastic job of that, mind you, but I had a desire to make my own way in the world. I wanted to meet someone I could be myself with. Someone I could perhaps settle down with, and have a family of my own. Still first I had big plans, and an entire world to see. I worked day and night through high school at a deli in the grocery store. On days when I didn’t have school I was there bright and early and worked till 3 or 4 in the afternoon. I volunteered for the library my mother worked at, and even did some secretary work for my dad at the car lot. By now he was the owner of his own car lot, and he had several regular customers. Some of them I swore were buying new vehicles once every two years.