One in Ten Thousand

“Oh, I’m giving birth,” she said, and it was about that easy, just one push and she was empty, emptier than she could even remember being, almost weightless. She was floating in the ocean, drifting slowly, and she worried that the baby was going to drown. When she reached down for it, though, it grabbed her hand and climbed up onto her shoulder like a cat. It was warm and slippery, with a thick oily pelt like an otter’s.

“What a strange child you are,” she told it. It nuzzled at her cheek and toyed with her hair. “Are you really mine?” It put one of her braids in its mouth and blinked owlishly at her.

It squalled when she took it out of the water, gasping painfully as it dried out, so she filled a bucket with seawater and carried it home in that. She kept it in the sink until she could buy an aquarium. It liked to hang over the side and sing to her while she worked. More and more she saw herself in its face, and less and less its father.

“You’re all mine,” she told it, “all mine.” It nodded and burbled at her, her gentle prince of Atlantis.