The Mermaid

When she fell upon the land, her scales had quite evaporated.  Her torso was now fused beneath a satin cuirass, and flowering pleats grew down her dorsal side.  The adoring fish that swam next to her had vanished; she was now surrounded by sharks that watched her and measured her worth…scales appearing in their eyes.

Her skin was warm, and glowed in the candlelight that melted like a thousand dying stars.  The heat was very uncomfortable and she missed the nacreous water that cooled her until she was as rare and precious as marble.  The air was dry and filthy with perfumes that made a mockery of the flowers.  She choked on the scented oils that stained the air.

She no longer slept on coral fans that blanketed the ocean floor.  Instead she found herself holding a fan:  she wasn't sure why – it was such a silly and flimsy thing.  Perhaps it was meant to be a type of weapon, and she held it in front of her like a shield.

There were no starfish to wear in her hair.  Her crown made from the skeletons of crabs and blue-eyed scallops was gone.  Her currents of hair were now imprisoned in a painful sweep that sparked her eyes with tears – memories of the salt water that she missed so much.

She missed her pelagic ways; listening to the whales talking, the seals barking like salty dogs.  She missed leaning against the rocks, singing:  her voice lifting above the shells floating in the brine, the yellow froth, the marine layers.

Now, she had no voice at all.

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12 responses to “The Mermaid

  1. Beautiful and claustrophobic.

    (And 'nacreous' – what a fabulous word.)

  2. Yes, Aubrey, gorgeously written as always. Poor thing does look mightily displaced!

  3. That's what I always hated about The Little Mermaid story, how she sacrificed her freedoms and her happiness for "love." Sad and oppressive, just like a dress made of 17 yards of satin.

  4. Aubrey, you have done it again. This one brought tears to my eyes. Your word choice is perfect. Please consider publishing a little illustrated book of these. I have some real favorites. If I had a journal, I'd be asking for some of these.

  5. Beautifully written again! I wonder how many little mermaids are out there having lost their voice and putting on a mask or shield to look like others. A little too many to count, I'm afraid.

  6. Yours are the only Vox entries I have to read twice. Sometimes it's because I don't understand them the first time through. Other times it's because I feel the need to surround myself with a little extra beauty before heading off to the next lolcat.(Now I must go look up "pelagic".)

  7. [this is so so good] Absolutely beautiful.

  8. the seals barking like salty dogs. a gorgeous turn of phrase. and heartbreaking ending.

  9. What M—–I said. I read your posts once, going at my usual rate. Then again, slowly, savoring each word. Its like dessert.

  10. You have outdone yourself with this one, and that's no easy task. Exquisite!I love this: "…she was now surrounded by sharks that watched her and measured her worth…"

  11. Exactly what Red Pen said. Gorgeous!

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