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.
Read the Rest of the August Issue
- The Heart Sings A Siren by Ali Trotta
- A Nereid’s Guide to the Underworld by E. Catherine Tobler
- Depths by Thomas Jones
- Mammiwata Bay by David Ishaya Osu
- Only Circles in the Sea by Carlie St. George and Clare McCanna
- Twenty Thousand Last Meals on an Exploding Station by Ann LeBlanc
- An elegy for voices Ariel traded for legs by Agwam Kessington
- Dream by Mila Nowak
- mermaid life by Susmita Ramni
- Mystery of the Deep by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
- more fat mermaids by Linda M. Crate
- Waking Dream by Kim Coleman Foote
- Honey and Vinegar and Seawater by Keyan Bowes
- They Will Try to Drain You by Valerie Herron
- The Sea King’s Second Bride by C. S. E. Cooney
- Self portrait as an ocean bed by S. Rupsha Mitra
- Mami-Wata by Tony Ogunlowo
- Underwater Eclipse by Cito Wheelington
- Loving the Other: Hans Christian Andersen and the evolution of mermaid romance in Wester media by Carrie Sessarego
- What Mother Failed to Mention About Dating a Mer-Man by LindaAnn Loschiavo
- I Want to Be Where the People Are: Disability and The Shape of Water by Elsa Sjunneson
- I Am Not Your Tragedy by Carlie St. George and Clare McCanna
- Canto for a Mermaid by William Heath