Psychopomp Magazine Summer 2015 - Page 26

26 | Psychopomp Magazine

thighs, your calves, the curious cleft between your legs. The man who carried you inside (Erol, they called him) set you on your feet.

An incredible sting racing through them and up into your legs made you collapse in a heap upon the floor.

The women, thin and old and draped in dull fabrics, sighed with exasperation. They yanked you up by your elbows and hurried you to an ivory tub, spilling over with epsom salt and bubbles. You struggled against them, hissing only air between your teeth. But they were more than you, and bigger, and accustomed to their legs. So they dumped you inside of it and scraped a hard brush along your body, peeling off even the most stubborn of leftover scales. They left your limbs leprous with new sores.

One woman raked a needle-toothed comb through the net of your hair, tugging it from your scalp. As she did so, she cursed foreigners, said she hated when women couldn’t speak the language. What were you to her, but some shipwrecked Eastern European?

Gypsies, she spit. Good for nothing, rob you blind. Good ol’ Erol has found himself another one, and ladies, you’d do well to watch her, make sure she’s not fingering the silverware, pocketing his valuables. Keep an eye on this one.

How was it, you wondered, that this woman should be born with a soul all her own? She jerked your head back and forth so you became nauseated—all the water you’d swallowed earlier rising in your throat. When the woman finished, she grabbed you by the chin and pushed her nose too close to yours.

Listen to me, girlie. We, all of us, are watching you. Best to stick to your manners, she threatened. Her breath was too much. You tried to turn away, but she held you in place. When she finally let go, you vomited a frothy paste into your bubble bath.

Seafoam.

On land, it seems you are everyone’s mute, dumb little child. Every day, the servants race into your room and snap the blinds to let the sun leak in. They pry the sheets from your body and hoist you upright, despite your protests—the honking noises you’ve learned to make. You point urgently to your feet, the inflamed stumps everyone wants you to walk on, and collapse back onto the bed.