Psychopomp Magazine Summer 2015 - Page 22

22 | Psychopomp Magazine

jiggle in a seemly, graceful way. She is the water, then. She is all water.

Little love, be warned. If this is about romance, I must … she gasps, I must advise you to come back in a few laters, when you’ve tried your hand at things the natural way. Here, she wheezes, Here I thought you wanted something important.

A hiss comes from the shadows. The eels are laughing at you, too.

Then the Seawitch is slinking off to the far end of the cave, likely to retire. Her ink and eels follow her. And you imagine going home, back to your sisters and all their clinging need, when your eyes land on a black and white print hanging from the wall. An impossibly tall man stands, proudly displaying a woman in his arms. She has ringlet curls, dimpled cheeks, and no legs. No legs at all. Just a trunk.

Wait. I must have a soul of my own, you blurt, and as you tell her, you come to realize it is very true.

She cocks her head back to listen.

And? the Seawitch asks, in a sing-song voice.

I want to walk the land as humans do. You hang your head and try not to envision your sisters’ last salute. And I want to die as humans die.

Of course you do, she says.

The blade of the knife snaps up with a flick of her wrist. You are kneeling before the Seawitch, and behind her fluttering tentacles, all you can see are jars of tongues. She gestures toward the crystal jars and their gelatinous pink contents. Thick and ripe as strawberries, moist and bloody like hearts, the tongues look so lonesome, some still shivering in their cylinders.

Can’t I give you something else? You are alert to your tongue’s cowardice, the way it keeps creeping back into your throat, begging to be swallowed.

These aren’t my rules, you know. What use have I for tongues? She scoffs. What will I do with them? Eat them? Wear them? Stitch them together and make a blanket? You must know, this is simply how magic is done. She taps her nails against a leather-bound tome.