Psychopomp Magazine Summer 2015 - Page 24

24 | Psychopomp Magazine

She presses her forehead into yours.


Mermaids, you remind yourself, are very possessive creatures. You have never known a life without love, and so it is the least of your worries.

Go ahead then, you tell her, and brace yourself. The Seawitch solemnly brandishes her knife, her two eels playing voyeur to the show.

When the blade scissors through the firm pink muscle of your tongue, your eyes are shocked open, your vision crusting over with pearled tears. The deed is done. Your mouth is a vacant, sore pocket, blood snaking out into the water like fine tendrils of crimson smoke.

Go! You have no time, the Seawitch bellows, and you propel yourself upward. You look back once, to see her bow her head and cross her collar bone with the blade in a remorseful X. As you wiggle and squeeze through the hole in the cavern, you can feel the power of your fin waning in force. It is so dark, black as a womb this ocean deep, but above, you can make out fingers of light, sunshine penetrating the water in thin beams. You race toward it, but your fin aches.

You have the distinct sense that you are being ripped apart.

Your tail is tearing in two from the bottom upward. There is an enormous gash threading itself up the muscle of your fin. As you throttle to the sunshine, your scales peel and crack, dusting off like little scabs into the water, tiny pin-prick jolts of agony, one by one, sprinkling away, swirling down like minuscule fallen stars.

The fin begins to slip off your hips, a sagging balloon of molting flesh. You reach for it vainly, hoping to save it, but it peels away from the new, raw dermis forming inside of it. Mid-stroke, you pause to watch it fall away from you, the translucent, torn bag that made you who you were.

And then your gills begin to close. Your fingers find the three incisions on either side of your neck and to your horror, they furrow and melt together. You pull down on the water with your hands as if it were a rope to the surface, climbing it as fast as