I Am Not Your Tragedy

by Carlie St. George and Clare McCanna

It used to be death, losing your tail. Not that we tell those kinds of stories. Our stories are lovely, occasionally tragic. Sometimes steeped in poetic vengeance. We sing fascinated, horrified verses about humans and their strange, unseemly legs.

What we rarely speak of is sharks, and the carnivorous discord within the sea. Which is a very mer way of saying that when I was twenty, a shark bit me near in half.

A century ago, I would’ve died, bled to death in a matter of minutes. Half a century ago, I might’ve lived, able to swim only through the strength in my arms. Some merfolk, conservatives, insist that’s how I should live now, because they want me to be a story they can understand: tragic, traditional, easily categorized. Cyborgs are a human invention.

I reject the narrative entirely. Survival is never a tragedy, and I’m a mermaid with my tail or without. I’m whole, with or without. I am a continuation. A reinvention, too.

My new tail is long, metal. Bioluminescent. My new tail is jellyfish pink. Wondrous, beautiful, mine

And oh, oh, what a joy it is, to swish forward, to outswim sharks.


© Copyright Carlie St. George and Clare McCanna

Carlie St. George is a Clarion West graduate with stories in Nightmare, Strange Horizons, The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror, and multiple other anthologies and magazines. When not working on fairy tales, meta slashers, or tiny mermaid stories, she writes about movies and television on her blog My Geek Blasphemy.

Clare McCanna is a freelance illustrator living in New England. She spent exactly as much time as was good for her on the waters of the North Atlantic and remains endlessly inspired by the Ocean and their creatures. These days she mostly entertains her cats and paints fantastical stories in oil and watercolour.

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