They were so proud of themselves, of what they’d done, like puppies, like a cat dragging a bird behind it, all blood and smiles and heavy breathing. “Mother, O Mother,” they said, “we have done as you wanted; the house is clean once more.”

And this at dinner; the whole household assembled. “Sons of my body, what have you done?”

They lifted a bloody sack and turned it over on the table, spilling out the ruin of his head. Even in death, even with his skull staved in and a quoit pressed against the back of his teeth, even then you could still see his beauty. Those eyes, taken from his mother, black and sorrowful, the eyes of the seal for which he was named. “This was not what I wanted, O my sons, this was not what I wanted.”

Hard to say. Even as their father raged, and they looked to me in sad confusion, even then—hard to not feel a weight lifted. He felt it too, I know: the boy was his crime made flesh, the instant punishment of an outraged goddess, the reified trace of that rocky shore. Love and duty combine to make a prison, guilt piled upon guilt; we dreamed of freedom.