Skin

Avra Margariti

They all want my skin. I shed it like I’m taking off a coat, dust from it the sand and seaweed, rinse it in the current, polish it until the brown leathery hide catches and reflects the light. It lays against the sun-warmed pebbles like an offering.

I want to stay and appreciate my work, but time is of the essence. Back in my cave, hidden behind jagged rocks and dangling tentacles of seaweed, I don’t bother covering my rosy, milky body. I only tend to the hair that grows from my scalp, the blond waves men love almost as much as my elusive hide. Using a horn comb, I untangle the salt-encrusted locks until they’re silky-soft. Flower petals woven through my braid, strings of seashells around my slender neck. Perfect.

I get myself ready. They want my skin, and who am I to refuse?

Eventually, a boat hits the island’s shore. The fisherman, no more than twenty winters old, looks around. Something shiny grabs his attention. Starry-eyed, as if he just found the answer to all his questions.

I emerge from the mouth of my cave, meek and helpless. I smile. I twirl my hair. I feign modesty.

The fisherman is torn between staring at me open-mouthed, and grabbing for my skin. They’re all the same. They think they’ve found a wife, someone to fill up, someone who’ll serve them tilldeathdouspart.

A keen rips from my throat. My sisters rise from the sea, their massive bodies water-sleeked and majestic. They descend upon him and dig pointed teeth into his flesh, tearing away chunks of it. They drown out his screams.

Locking eyes with him, I shrug into my hide. Not pretty now. No longer frail, but sturdy and powerful.

My sisters wait for the final blow that is rightfully mine, with shuffling flippers and whiskers quivering in excitement.

Afterward, we discard the fisherman’s vile skin and feast on his innards.

Avra Margariti is an author, queer activist, and Social Work student from Greece.