I used to be a raven. Not anymore.
I’ve shed my wet, shiny wings and feathers. I’ve given up my beak and claws. I’ve stretched and expanded. Now I have ten toes, ten fingers, two arms, two legs, and long hair on top of my head.
They tell me that I am a woman now. Mind you, in this world ‘woman’ and ‘human’ don’t mean the same thing.
This puzzles me.
Only my exterior has changed. I am still my raven self with raven-like thoughts.
“Why do I feel no different?” I ask Sylkie. “Is it because I still collect pebbles, metal pieces, and golf balls? I do have a cache of shiny objects.”
“It’s only your appearance that has changed,” Sylkie explains, gazing longingly outside her kitchen window. “Look at me. I have no escape. My human husband took my freedom away with my pelt. He says souls can live only in human-shaped bodies.”
“Such arrogant creatures,” I scoff.
Sylkie shrugs and gets back to her housework.
Sylkie gave up long ago. A wave of mingled sadness and anger washes over me towards her husband. I’m angry at myself for not being able to help Sylkie. In my human skin, I can’t do anything for her. I’m just a mute spectator. If I was in my raven skin, I would peck out her husband’s eyes, and force him to give Sylkie’s freedom back to her.
“Sylkie, free yourself.”
“I ain’t a magician, Raven.”
“Magic is something you make, Sylkie. You have to want to fight,” I croak, low and hoarse. Fight, just as we all must do. You don’t have to acquiesce in your husband’s decision. Let’s try.”
“He keeps my pelt in a chest, and the key is with him. Always.”
“Steal the keys, Sylkie.”
“What? You mean really steal?”
I’ve had enough of playing human. So I scrunch myself back down and slip into my raven skin. I preen my shiny feathers, flex my talons, and click my beak. I’ve never felt so luxurious and so real inside my human skin.
This is who I am.
I lick my beak.
Carrr! Craak! Click!
With my strong, big, powerful beak, I burst open the lock. Sylkie takes her pelt from the chest, wears it, and departs hastily, escaping to the sea.
I fly home to my family.
“What was it like?” My children want to know.
“Horrible,” I tell them. “Humans hate what is different. Females are mistreated. Humans’ dietary choices are strange, and they pollute the earth. They are indoors all the time; their children don’t play outside in the sun. We are much better as ravens, dear.”
The children broadcast their agreement through their croaks — a throaty “kraa-kraa.” We shake our feathers and settle down.
In another ten years, we’ll again test if humans changed magically somehow. Only then we’ll decide if it’s better to be a raven or a human.
Note: I once read a book as a kid in which ravens had the ability to shapeshift. Needless to say, that image stuck with me. What would ravens use shapeshift for? What would they think of the way we humans live and the way we treat each other? As humans we usually think our ways are the best ways. Ravens are smart birds. They probably think their ways are best, too.
Selkies (also spelled silkies, sylkies, selchies) or Selkie folk (Scots: selkie fowk) meaning “Seal Folk” are mythological beings capable of therianthropy, changing from seal to human form by shedding their skin.
You can read more about the Sylkie in the link here:- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selkie
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