Girlfriend Jacket

by Benny Kim

I wake up in a cave, wearing Bos’ coat. Most humans would be concerned about the cave part, but as a selkie, I was befuddled that I was wearing my best friend’s skin instead of my own.

The first thing selkies are taught as pups is to never let anybody take your coat. Rather, you should avoid shedding your sealskin at all lest a besotted lover entrap you in marriage. Bos and I never listened to the outdated fables. Playing human was our favorite game, especially on weekends when La Jolla’s nightclubs blasted their songs and drinks poured freely. We even named ourselves after the drinks. Bos had misread the 805 on the beer bottle as English letters, the silly girl.

That silly girl’s namesake is likely the reason for my current headache and out-of-body experience.

I raise myself (Bos’ self?) up and scan our secret hideout for my better half. Partly in the water lay my unconscious form. I gently slap whom I assume to be Bos awake.

“Bos,” I say. “You’re in my body.”

Bos moans and flaps her (my) flippers in the air, protesting the rousing touch. Too bad, Bos! My body, my rules. I nudge her, and my snout crunches before relaxing. It’s weird to see myself like this.

Finally, Bos yawns. She blinks at the sight of me in her sealskin, then takes stock of the body she wears.

“So I am,” she says. “You have so much blubber. It’s much nicer than my own.”

“I’m flattered.”

Bos barks out a laugh. My face has never looked so mischievous. “What do you say we stay like this a bit longer? We can prank my brothers.”

The fact that I consider it surprises me. The maxim had been all but tattooed into my brain: Don’t let anybody take your coat. It’s one thing if a human steals my skin, but Bos and I took our first steps on land together and used to sleep with clutched hands like otters. Nowadays, she holds my hair as I puke after an intoxicating night out.

Bos isn’t anybody. I trust her. Bos smiles at me, and I know she feels the same.

There’s no need for traps when we always choose each other.

“All right,” I say, and I feel Bos’ heart swell with love. “Which one should we get first?”

© Copyright Benny Kim

Benny Kim is a nonbinary Asian writer who has previously been published in the Case Reserve Review. They had the pleasure of seeing the La Jolla cove seals in person back in 2019. Currently, they work as a freelance translator and editor with aspirations of writing a serial novel.

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