“What is that?” Maarit puzzled the gnarly grey spike.
“It is time,” replied Nuuk spinning in a circle, looking up past the tip of his tusk and to the halo of smoke and white gulls that circled the moon.
And knowing no fear, but the fear of being alone, Maarit stared at the creature in the center of the hole and into the darkness below and the deep and the cold. The ice surrounding the hole smooth formless shadows. Tips of the wake freezing as they collided.
“Time for what?”
“A millefeuille, folding back on itself, the layers of time,” replied Nuuk.
And it ws time for Maarit to swim.
Maarit bent her knees slightly and spread her arms wide. It made the gulls happy to see Maarit in full flight. She lost her boots taking off, left them lying there in their impressions, standing upright. Reindeer skin looking lonely against the old snow.
The shock from the cold caused a burst of white light, her lungs filling with fire, and then her world fading to black. Icy sharp fingers reached out for the child as she spiraled and sank, but it was Nuuk diving hard that caught Maarit first. Reaching out with a fin, he reached out and grabbed hers. What was black was now blue and then green and then yellow and having the warmth of her favorite wool blanket.
A new world was righting in that moment, deep below the ice floats. Nuuk had stopped Maarit’s descent, and they were there, suspended, surrounded by whispers of light. Maarit was dreaming of fireflies as she came to. Awakening she realized it was her time to float.
“I can swim,” voiced Maarit.” I don’t know how to swim.”
“Of course you can swim.” It was Nuuk’s turn to speak. “Of course, you can swim with that very fine tail.”
Where there had been boots, now shimmering pink and grey scales. Now a tail that streamed out into an undersea breeze waving like a flag sewn of very fine silk.
Sparkles of metallic green, purples and pinks and then joined at the knees. Silver scales interlocked in a wrap of her legs reflecting what light survived the trip through the dark. And where there were once red woolen mittens now formed webbed fingers with nails shaped like key hooks.
“I can breathe.”
“Of course, you can breathe, you can breathe, you’re like me.”
Taking a deep breath, Maarit felt a thickness in her throat, her neck pulsing with each breath and her hair hanging about her face in an opaque curtain of lace.
Nuuk was swimming in circles, around and around, observing Maarit glow and approving of her new form.
“Let’s go let’s go there’s no time to waste!” Nuuk pointed his horn to the south and the deep and the deeper.
“Where are we going?” Maarit’s words bubbling as she was spinning like a top and performed her first summersault grabbing the end of her own tail.
With a twist and a thump of his powerful flukes, Nuuk was clean out of sight, leaving nothing behind but his own trail of bubbles. Bubbles starting, some as small as pinpoints, and they grew and grew in size to the shape of grand holiday balloons, and from inside the bubbles the sound of brass trumpets announcing it was the right time.
To be continued…