When the clock strikes midnight, Abigail rises from her bed, slipping out of the window, softly dropping to the ground. She does not want to awaken her parents or the servant who lives in the house. Her bare feet pad along the cool, wet grass. She finds herself drawn to the river standing before the wide expanse of water. Soft, gentle breezes lift her hair from her face as she gazes up to the full moon, whose light dances on the water. Her toe skims the water breaking the light in the waves.
The moon cycle pulls to her inner self. No one knows her secret. It is something she discovered about herself when she was very young. There is no rhyme or reason for what she is. There is no explanation as to why she lives this dual life both on land and in water. It is something she must do. One cannot ignore their nature.
An owl hoots. Abigail sees him in a tree. He is magical, like her, and has come to enjoy who he is beneath his humanity. The owl understands her need, for he is like her, a changeling. They communicate telepathically. He tells her all is safe. Humans are asleep in their beds. She is free to be her real self.
Abigail pulls the nightgown down over her small shoulders, shivering as she lets it fall as she steps into the cool water. First, she walks to her waist to let herself adjust to the temperature. Arching her back, she puts her arms above her head and leaps before she dives into the river, headfirst.
Down she swims deeper into the river finding the rocky bottom. Holding her breath, she searches. The water filters the moon’s light. She follows the familiar trail of the riverbed. Transforming, Abigail surfaces, floating on her back with a clam and a rock. Cracking the clam on the hard surface, she scoops out the fleshy creature swallowing it whole. The stone and clamshells sink to the bottom of the river. Her sleek brown coat sparkles in the moonlight. She rolls and dives, enjoying the feel of the water as it glides over her body. Then she surfaces to take in the air she needs to continue her night’s play. For the next few hours, she is free.
Abigail hears the hoot owl’s cry, a reminder that the night is waning. After his resounding warning, the owl flaps his broad wings flying off into the night, leaving her behind.
It is time to return to her other life. Abigail dives for the final time surfacing, she is human again. The water sluices off her body as she rises from the river stepping onto the shore. Abigail bends over, plucking her nightgown from the ground, pulls it over her head.
Solemnly she walks back to her home with a heavy heart, for she will have to wait until the next full moon to transform again.
“Good morning, otter,” her father says.
“What?” a startled Abigail is taken from her daydream. She looks at her father realizing he has said, “Good morning, daughter.”
Abigail smiles and kisses her father on the cheek returning his greeting. She pokes at her breakfast while her mind returns to the daydream, longing once again to go back to the river and feel the cool water on her skin.
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