I brush my blond hair back only for it to dangle back loose again. Oh, of course, I forgotten. I try again, this time looping the wayward strand behind my ear, slightly further up my head, careful not to knock out my wireless ear buds. I feel the swelling of the nerves in my stomach from the stress of this ordeal.
I try to relax with the sway of the boat as it leaves the pier for Bainbridge Island. Standing for the past half hour on the bus downtown has put a strain on my paws, especially today as they are jammed into a pair of custom business flats. A trip like this a few years ago, while just as long, wouldn’t have been a lot easier than it is today. While being on the water fells right, it’s the stares of other passengers that I’m still getting use to.
I circle the deck looking for place to sit alone. Eventually I spy an open booth, I rush over and pull into it, being sure to have ample room for my tail. Looking out the window, I see the rainy morning mist clinging to the window. My whiskers lift as I smile, happy to finally be able to sit down. Satisfied with the location, I curl it to the side the tip dangling off the end without twisting up my navy skirt knee length skirt too much, as I also straighten the matching jacket and blouse I have on as well.
Finally settled in, I begin to dig in my small clam shell purse. My webbed hands making it a bit difficult to see what I’m grabbing. Eventually I find it and pull out the crumpled piece recipe paper, the handwriting on it difficult to read. I can barely make it out:
375 Hudson Street
Port Townstead, WA
62 -> Ferry -> 390 -> 7 -> 11B
Ask for Robert Wright
A moment more, I take a pen from the small assortment of items left on the table and stroke through the words 62 and ferry, before shoving all but the paper back into my purse having made those connections.
“You know you’d have a better time if you’d take off that costume?” a random stranger says. Himself dressed in yellowish-khaki-colored jeans, and a dark blue hoodie.
“What do you mean?” I say giving him an odd look, my right hand anxiously gripping the edge of my jacket. “What costume?”
“That otter one,” he says giving me an odd look “I mean, it looks well done, like Hollywood level.”
“Oh, um, thanks. I’ll consider it next time.” I say, my ears loosen a bit and feel my whiskers droop, not certain to explain that it wasn’t a costume, but my real body. I break eye contact and begin to look out the window again at the water.
“Wish Yuki could have driven me,” I mutter to myself while listening to custom mix on my phone, attempting to drown out the background noise of the ferry passengers and espresso bar.
Slowly, the music begins to retake the background. Closing my eyes, I fill my chest deeply with air, before I go for a with the exhale. I feel a bit more clam, however, the butterflies still fluttering in my stomach, despite the surprise breakfast of lox benedict that Terra had prepared for me. My whiskers twitch as I begin to focus on the upcoming interview. My hands tense going over each question in my head. My tail twitches up and down as I get to a mental, I couldn’t answer. My ears loosen as I jerk head and my hand down to the phone to find the correct answer.
“Sander, not Esox. Damn it.” I squeak as my frustration mounts and tilt my head back “I really need to keep those genes straight.”
My head bobs as my ears loosen with the disappointment of the answer. Quickly after, I feel my left ear bud drop out. Swiftly I look down to the falling item, only to watch my tail flicks and knocks it out of the booth and onto the walkway. I scoot over to grab it, only to notice the stranger from earlier has already grabbed it, and has picked it off the floor.
“Here. You dropped this. I think,” he says, his voice having a waiver of uncertainty to it, twirling the ear piece in his fingertips.
“Oh, um, thanks,” I say finishing to scoot to the end of the booth to grab it. I open my otter paw like hand for him to drop it in.
“That’s, no, costume, is it?” he finally asks placing the earbud into the pad of my hand, his fingers tremble.
“Uh, no. It isn’t.” I say slowly drawing back my wayward ear bud and placing it back into my ear. My ear shift forward as my muzzle slackens in agonizing nervousness yet trying to give a smile.
He stands there in silence for a good minute, his eyes tracing me up and down in an attempt to make sense of it all. As he does, I feel my heart rate rise matching the awkwardness and anxiety I’m feeling.
“What are you?” he says breaking the heavy silence, his face full of astonishment unsure to be fascinated or afraid.
“I’m, I’m a person.” I say my muzzle twists with an uncertainty to it. “A woman, I suppose. I struggle to say I’m still completely human anymore.”
“What happened? How? Who?” He asks a bit of confused.
“Well, I did this. I did this, to myself.” I say a bit bashful, carefully bringing up the wayward earpiece the right way up into the corner of my ears. My eyes meet his staring gaze.
“You?!” he asks even more baffled and stirred by the situation,
“It's a long story” I say my whiskers falling deeply down. “Well, it’s all of it?”
“I don’t mean to press.” He says says trying to calm himself yet still being quite animated “How did you do this…. To Yourself?”
“Please calm down. I don’t want make this a bit of a scene.” I say in a bit of a calmer hush tone, both of my hands, pads down slowly moving towards the table before gesturing to the seat on the other side of the table. “You do that, have a seat, and I’ll try to explain it all.”
As I am trying to get into writing, I decided to give last Thursday's Writing prompt: Ferry a go. I decided to work on a vignette piece of my Otter character Ashley, as she is taking the ferry to an interview. As part of this I gave myself only one week to finish this and I am sorry for any and all grammatical errors.
If you're interested in doing the same. I would suggest going to Thursday Prompt's FA Page.
A special thanks to Rygone on Discord for the feedback on this story.