“We need to find the rainbow’s blue,” said Isabelle, “Where should we look?”
Alastair stared up at the rainbow and smiled. “The rainbow shines brightest after the rain has fallen. Perhaps that is what we need.”
Isabelle nodded and said, “We should go and speak to Mira. She may know what to do.”
“Mira?” asked Alastair, “The old lady who tell stories of mermaids?”
“Yes,” said Isabelle smiling, “Every story holds a truth if you know where to look and how to listen.”
“Isabelle!” she cried springing up and gliding across the sand towards them, “It is so nice to see you. Can I assume the colours in the rainbow are your doing?”
“And my brother, Alastair” said Isabelle. “How did you know?”
“I knew, because rainbows sparkle in the air all around you,” she laughed. “Now you have come to me, so you must need my help.”
“We need to find the blue of the rainbow,” answered Alastair, “We thought that the sea might the hold the key, but we don’t know how to find it.”
Her tears fell to the earth and became the great seas and mighty oceans forming a barrier between the warring brothers. ”
“An ocean made of tears,” said Isabelle, “How sad,”
Mira smiled softly, “Or an ocean formed from the pure love of a mother.”
Alastair stared out the waves and said, “This is impossible. We can’t swim beneath the waves, we will die trying.”
“Many years ago, I came from the sea,” said Mira. “I fell in love with a mortal man and he stole my skin and hid it so I could never leave. Now he is dead and the sea calls to me, but without my coat I cannot enter her. Find my skin for me and I will bring you the tears of the sea herself.”
Although they searched Mira’s home from top to bottom they found no clue of where Mira’s selkie coat was hidden.
“Do you know where Mira’s husband kept his boat?” they asked.
“Ah, poor Mira,” breathed an old wizened man, “Now he is gone and her coat is hidden from her eyes. Love can make a man do terrible things.”
“You know Mira?” said Isabelle.
“I knew her man,” answered the fisherman. “His boat is long gone, but he used to into go the caves when the tide was out. Perhaps he hid his treasure there, like the smugglers of long ago?”
The children waited for the waves to relinquish their grip on the land and when they had slid back far enough, they raced across the sand to the caves.
Inside the caves it was dark and dank. They knew they didn’t have much time until the tide turned again, so the children searched further and further in, until the sound of the sea was just a distant echo.
Finally, Alastair found a dry ledge with a candle stub.
He lit it quickly and in the flickering light of the flame the children saw an old sea trunk, warped and rusted pushed up against the dry rock.
Pushing up the lid they peered inside.
“There’s nothing in here, but a rotting old coat,” said Alastair sadly.
They made their way back to the mouth of the cave, but in the time they had been gone, the sea had crept closer and closer, and now they were trapped.
“The water will just follow us,” said Alastair.
“No, it won’t,” said Isabelle, “The chest was dry, so the water doesn’t go that far in.”
The children raced back to the dry rock and watched the water lap closer and closer.
“I am so cold,” shivered Isabelle.
“Here,” said Alastair, “Let’s use that old coat to keep us warm.”
He wrapped the coat around them both and by the time the flame finally flickered and died on the candle, they had fallen asleep.
As Isabelle tugged the cloth tighter around her, she felt the salt hardened material soften into warm fur. Quickly, she woke Alastair and together they marvelled at the beauty of the selkie’s pelt.
As soon as they could, they ran for the entrance and gathering their bundle tight set out straight for Mira.
The old lady was waiting for them and when she saw what they carried she wept for joy.
“You kept your promise, now I will keep mine,” she said, “Wait here, when the first ray of sun touches the sea, I shall return with what you need.”
As they watched her transform into her true self and dive into the foaming water, Isabelle said, “Do you think she will come back? I don’t know if I would come back to the place that kept me prisoner.”
“She’ll come back,” said Alastair, and he settled down to wait under the stars.
In a moment Mira stood before them, all signs of age falling from her face, like the water that streamed from her long hair. She smiled at the children asleep on the sand and bending over them placed in their hands four perfect pearls.
“Farewell,” she whispered, “My life here has ended and a new one begun in the arms of the mother who created us all. Live your lives well and love without regret.” Turning she walked into the water and was soon lost to sight beyond the waves.
When the children woke in the embrace of the warm sun they found the tears of the sea in their hands.
The pearls turned to clear water in their fingers and as it slipped past their hold and fell to the ground, the children’s tears joined them.
“What now?” cried Isabelle, “We have lost the pearls.”
“Shh,” said Alastair, “Look,” and he pointed into the small puddle that now lay at their feet.
In the still water they could see Mira’s face. “Don’t cry,” she said.
“The tears are not lost. They have simply changed form. Your rainbow is made of tears too, not of sadness, but of joy.”
As they watched, the water turned to steam and drifted up to the rainbow, filling it with clear blue light.
Notes: Selkies appear in Celtic mythology as seal shape shifters. The women could shed their skins and transform into beautiful maidens. If a man stole the skin of a selkie she could not return to the sea.
Other chapters in the story: