Liwliwa had already cast off the larger part of her sea-lion skin by the time Maricel pulled her noisy little boat up to the buoy. For years, she had had few enough inhibitions to take off her skin in front of Maricel for years, but Maricel still found that watching her was an uneasy experience more than anything else.
Liwliwa cried out and waved. Throwing the skin over a rusted strut on the buoy, she reached out for the side of the boat and clambered in. With strong, clumsy limbs, she embraced Maricel; Maricel held her against her chest for a moment, and kissed her bare skin, still damp with seawater. Then their usual routine continued: Liwliwa wandered to the storage boxes at the stern of the boat to find clothes for herself, and Maricel steered the boat back towards her island, and home. The sun hung hot behind them.
They wouldn’t have long – it was never pleasant to be around Liwliwa when she had been away from the sea for weeks on end – but they would use what time they had.