Psychopomp Magazine Summer 2015 - Page 21

Lisa Nohner | 21

spine, landing somewhere in your chest. A heartbeat, perhaps. A volatile swell and snap that moves through you, down your bare buttocks and into your fin. Though you try to resist, your body moves of its own accord through the entrance of the Seawitch’s quarters. The beat thrums and drops, shaking your core, every tiny vertebrae shivering with its intensity. Your fish half flaps, dizzy and urgent, until a flickering violet light swallows your vision.

Stillness.

It is the eels you make out first. They slither toward you in the sporadic light, until you’re staring them in their old-man faces. They sneak beneath your armpits and carry you to the center of the cavern. The place is littered with miscellany; cards and jewelry and decrepit lamps, broken furniture, and velvet cloths printed with constellations. There are tubes and vials and lines of shark teeth strung along the walls. And at the center of it all, preening before an antique mirror, is the Seawitch.

It’s not something I alone can give you, she says to her dour reflection. If I could, I’d charge a hefty sum, but you see, pet, you must get it yourself.

You try to catch your breath. To find your voice. Her tentacles wiggle at you impatiently. Timidly, you wave back at them.

It’s a risky pursuit, my dear. The chance of actually getting a soul. Well, there’s just no guarantee. She abandons her vanity. The chair steams as she rises.

And now you are frowning, gazing down at your fish half and its tarnished silver scales. Picking at them with your nails. Although they are not with you, the touch of your sisters is so familiar, you can still feel their hands squirming over your body.

It’s not exactly a soul that I want, you utter.

The Seawitch’s face breaks into an execrable grin. She hustles toward you, her eight legs undulating.

Dear me, that’s funny. I’ve never been mistaken before. She touches your hair and tucks it behind your ears.

I just mean … That’s not all I want. I want to walk on land.

When the Seawitch laughs, her whole body is given to shakes. Her folds and rolls