• Vol. 04
  • Chapter 08


I can’t breathe in here. It would have been better to be corked in a bottle. A bottle filled with liquid, my natural element. A bottle full of rum or sea water to drive men mad.

It was better when I was a bundle of bleached bones on a coral beach, my soul flayed out beneath the sun. The next typhoon the water came back up and washed me back into the unforgiving sea. I was scattered, as a mermaid should be, among my own kind. They and the sea creatures mourned my passing, a submarine chorus of songs, sighs, clicks of regret. This sort of accident can happen to anyone. You get caught by a current and thrown onto the sand. Whales warn their children of the chance thrown dice of tide and fate. And yet …

I cannot rest. The tide, the highest tide of that storm season left a fragment of me on the shore. The merest sliver of mermaid’s fingernail washed up among their flotsam and jetsam — a vagrant from my other life. They found it, the land-livers, stored it away for later examination. Now they’ve taken it out, taken the bare bone, neither fish nor man, reconstituted it. They’re so pleased with themselves, think they’ve found a new species. They should have listened to the sailors’ tales. The wave riders knew me and all my sisters.

Once I was a dream, a rumour. Now I am trapped inside this dry glass dome, my body shrivelled to a husk. Where are my silver scales, my golden hair, my comforting breasts? Where, oh where, my mystery?