Annie’s eyes are as green as the distant sea. She’s on the bluff, leaning back on her elbows as the wind tangles her curling black hair. She watches her new generation Roane celebrate in the water, rejoicing the magic in their new skins. The hope is raw as an open wound on her face.
Liz feels the pang of unshed tears. She remembers being a teenager and seeing the way the light from the bonfire plays against Annie’s freckled skin. Memory is damnation, and Liz is left marooned in her ever-changing present. The past is another country, she recalls someone telling her, and wants nothing more for time to run backward.
Without a glass to keep her steady, Liz stumbles across the sand and drops down next to Annie, as if they are still together and not a species cursed.
They watch October’s daughter dance among the waves. The husk of her seal-skin melts into the sand as sunlight breaks the last of the enchantment. One of the Lost Skin has – have – been in San Francisco the entire time, and almost in a poetic sense with blood and promises, Liz and her Annie are witnessing it turn into dust.
Liz wonders about the many secrets her Annie has been keeping over the centuries. She remembers their home, the small kitchen with the faded wallpaper and the copper pots and pans. She remembers the ivy geraniums with petals as red as blood in a chipped blue vase. She remembers loving the sea-witch who once cursed her species.
“Seven years,” she says, feeling herself untether and become that girl by the bonfire again. Before bitterness and truth wore away at her heart. Right now she can be that girl and sit on the bluff with her lover, Annie of the Roane with the freckled skin and green-glass eyes.
Annie closes her eyes. “And no need to pay a tithe to hell,” she misquotes the bedtime song every Faerie child knows.
The laughter of an old species reborn fills the air with the crashing of waves and the taste of ancient magic.
“Thank you,” Liz says. Her fingers brush against Annie’s. Faerie is changing around them and the only constant is the girl with black hair watching it turn to myth and legend.
Annie hesitates, but like the tide, her touch returns to Liz as their hands clasp together and they watch the rebirth of the Roane.