Well. Maybe a little it's going to hurt you, you realize—as your captain's shocked horror finally settles into simple confusion and dawning wonder below, as more minds, roused from sleep by her panicked shout hoist their bodies from drunken slumber and haul their reluctant strange little dangling hand-puppet bodies up on deck, and fall silent and stunned with the incomprehensible sight of you and your beautiful horror locked in an embrace far more intimate than all the intimacy they can see or even imagine.

Yes, you realize, with the first touch of that wonderful appendage's delicately fluted tip, the thick great monstrous thing that the deep thing has made for you, to the image it sees in your mind—it knows you very well, now, as well as you know yourself, and one thing it has learned is that there's that of you which savors a certain intimate sort of sting. And the thing it has made for you is sized and shaped accordingly.

But it pauses, and the sense in your mind is one of eagerness restrained by a desire to explore at length and in detail—it would have you, and it will have you, but...but just now, it has sprouted a hundred tiny tendrils from its surface, fine pseudopods full of sensory ganglia, whose tips reach out to your body and stretch and find tender furless skin—there to flatten and spread out, coating the pink-red skin of your sex in the black and shining skin of the deep thing, its surface molding to yours, sinking softly into you, as if there were a thousand thousand tiny fingers ever so gently prising apart the folds of your sex, finding—

—finding a part of you that has ever been your shame, ever since you were a little girl bathing with your sisters in the big tin tub before the fire, and they saw it between your legs and pointed at it and laughed and asked if you were really a boy, actually, because girls don't have those, and—

—and you've always tried to forget it was even there, just not even think about it and do your utmost to convince yourself that you were not such a mutant as you are. But it's always insisted upon itself and though you would hide so much from yourself and have so completely for so long there is no hiding here and it suddenly pierces you that no wonder you've never sought the advances of the young men of your village, you've always been so ashamed to let others see your body, you've always found yourself so drawn to monsters—why not? when you're such a monster yourself

—but your lovely monster has found that part of you, found it and drawn it forth and and enfolded its eager shameful stiffness in so delicate and gentle a darkly shining caress, and you can hide from yourself not the more, and it strikes you so to your heart that you cannot even weep—

—but why would you? the deep thing wonders. There is no hiding here, with your mind so intimately commingled with that of the deep thing. No hiding—and it would not have you hide; its sense of sheer wonder at the shape of your body, at the nature of it, at the strength of its responses! It is after all a thing of the deepest depths, spawned in pressures which would smash any mammal to paste in less than an instant. It is all but indestructible—it has to be, even to exist in its native home. How could it possibly be that, and have more than the most rudimentary sense of touch? The closest it has ever come, before it found you, was to receive information from the sensory ganglia which stud its outer surface, and which enable it to know more about the conditions around it than it could know otherwise.

It has never felt before.

But now it does—just as you do. The pleasure of its touch, and of your delighted contemplation of its shape and form and nature—that all of this should fill your tiny mind and body, that such vast and overpowering strength should arise this way from such minuscule origins—it understands everything of you, but it does not understand this.

And it does not understand why any of it should give you to feel so differently now. The part of you that has shamed you so—it is part of you nonetheless. What about it is different from any other part? Why is it of such terrible import that you should—a sense of sudden rummaging, images flickering in the eye of your mind as the beast seeks within you some comparison, reviewing tiny bright bathtime memories in search of the precise difference which disturbs you so—that you should only be shaped a little differently from others of your kind? There are these that are shaped much more differently, with some great swelling beneath a protuberance much more sizable than your own, and this is of no import, so why, then—

—but it remains commingled with you, and as its mind inquires, yours shows it the answer, again. Pointing fingers and laughing voices and shame and cruelty and contempt and later snide comments behind hands and knowing looks in unkind eyes and oh she'll never find anyone no wonder she's a woods scout they're always alone anyway and of course that's perfect for her because you know what she is and she'll always be alone anyway because no one could ever possibly want her not after the wedding night anyway and thank God her sisters told everyone because otherwise some poor man would be stuck with that thing and why not let her be a woods scout it's just a mercy she's good at it but maybe better if she weren't because then she'd be no one's problem but either way she may as well because no matter what she'll always be alone—

—she'll always be alone—