WIP Wednesdays | Milkmaid and Sea Serpent Excerpt | 7/27/2022

Exactly what it says on the tin! Took a stab at a fairytale-esque format.

Milk rained from the sky on the day the milkmaid first saw the sea serpent. Sticky honey fell from the heavens the day after and then what could only be blood on the third day.

On the first day, though, the clouds were content to flood the beachside town with warm milk. The milkmaid did not think to taste it. If she had, she would have discovered if it tasted of the cow’s milk she harvested or goat milk from her cousin’s farm or the exotic unicorn’s milk rumored to come from the mountains.

It could have been all or none of these. It would not have mattered.

So eager were the tradespeople to gather the milk for cream, butter, and cheese. They failed to notice the monster in their midst. All except for the milkmaid. She saw the sea serpent hiding in the rocks and waves that cut into the coast. Then she blinked to clear the cream from her eyes and saw a woman instead. A beautiful, terrifying woman who bore more than a passing resemblance to the creature that had been in her place moments before. By the time the milkmaid reached the shore to sate her curiosity, she was long gone.

On the second day, the honey day, movement was restricted by the stickiness coating every surface. The milkmaid had the foresight to catch some of the honey in milk pails to sweeten her tea.

Her cows mooed their distress at having not been milked yet that day, so she braved the sweet rain to reach the barn. She loved her dairy cows dearly. They were sweet things able to subsist on what little grass grew so close to the ocean. It would be cruel indeed to abandon them. Her hair and eyelashes stuck together. She had to scrub her hands clean before she dared to touch the cows’ udders. After they were milked, she fought her way through the honey once again.

She was one of few who went out into the mess, so she once more she bore sole witness to the sea serpent. As she watched, the creature slid onto the beach. She let the honey drip all over her body. The scales sloughed away to reveal the human skin and form beneath.

By this point, the milkmaid’s dress became thoroughly ruined by the honey. She decided to wash it in the sea, knowing that the repeated beating of the waves against it would wash out the honey sooner than her own scrubbing. From there it would only be a matter of rinsing it in fresh water if—when—it fell from the sky again. And if doing the cleaning meant that she would get a better look at the creature, all the better.

The plan went awry. The honey rain entrapped the milkmaid before she could reach the ocean. Her skirts became heavy with it. As she attempted to lift them enough to move, the creature crawled out of the water. Not a woman, nor a sea serpent any longer, but something in-between. Her human features did not separate cleanly from her other half. Here patchwork scales scattered across her forearm, there a tooth like a butcher knife point glittered.

She snarled at the milkmaid with all of her teeth, still as sharp as they had been in that other form. In retrospect, the maiden saw the expression for what it was: an attempt at a smile. In that moment, though, she only saw what she expected to see: a threat display from a beast. The sea serpent-woman could devour one of her cows whole, never mind the milkmaid herself. She terrified her.

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