Psychopomp Magazine Summer 2015 - Page 20

20 | Psychopomp Magazine

You won’t find it here, child, she states. What you seek is not something anyone sells. And then she looks away. You follow her gaze to the center of the market, where two merchildren, a boy and a girl, fight for the skeleton of an angler fish. They are pulling. Too hard. Soon it will snap. The bones will scatter. Waves will ferry them miles and miles above, to the blue beyond the blue, and the weight that carries with it. The bones will either reach the land, or be trapped forever amid the sea-foam.

When you turn back to the Seawitch, it is too late: she has gone. All she’s left behind is a bubbling black stain, burning into the ocean floor, seaweed wilting in her wake.

When you tell your sisters where you must go, they can scarcely speak. Tears pearl in the meaty corners of their eyes. Their gossamer hands reach for you, to draw you in like always, to cluster and cajole, to fawn over your long hair and swirl their fins around yours, binding you close—but this time, they pause. They do not close you in their oyster of sisterhood.

The heat of the black ink is cooling and soon you will lose her, the Seawitch whose wisdom you crave. As you start away, you turn back once. Perhaps you will not be gone so long. Yet the girls seem to know differently. In unison, each sister drops her rainbow crown of hair and slowly, somberly, crosses her collar bones with the same wide X.

The Seawitch’s ink leaves a trail of rotting life behind it, as easy as her eight tentacles to follow. There is a fishbone graveyard at the mouth of her cave. You pause awhile, poking fingers between sets of jagged teeth. Sometimes, tiny urchins tumble out to prick your palms. Sea serpents, green and excitable, weave in and out of eyeless sockets.

The cave yawns open blackly before you.

A rhythm begins to pump from inside. It is the sound of whining pipes and throbbing drums, a noise so deep that you can feel it in your sternum. It laces up your spine, landing somewhere in your chest. A heartbeat, perhaps. A volatile swell and