Tuesday, 23 April 2013

The Five Stages of Grief, in Hell, With Mermaids, Part One: Denial

Two sisters are standing by the mouth of a cave. They are having an argument.
Dreamchild, the younger one, was born halfway through an unfortunate spiritual phase of her parents. She loathes her name and has christened herself Sadie. She dresses with care. Dream-Sadie wears the finest exercise clothing her allowance can buy; her face is covered with arguably too much foundation. Her bleached blond hair is scraped into a high ponytail; her arms are covered with bangles from Claire’s. Dreamchild, or rather, Sadie, is in her early teens. There is a four-year age difference her and her sister. 
Her older sister’s hair is loose and wavy; her eyes are lined with kohl. She wears skirts which are long and flowing, her nose is pierced like a pig's, and she has been vegan for eight whole entire days. Her name is Holly, and she is partaking in an unfortunate spiritual phase of her own. 

Originally, Holly had wanted to visit a coastal town known for its many spiritual hotspots by herself. Dream-Sadie, upon hearing Holly's plans, insisted on accompanying her sister. Dream-Sadie wanted to meet her similarly attired friends there, and as well as buying some clothes from the town's many boutiques.  Holly and Dream-Sadie's mother, upon hearing the sister's snide squabbling and catty comments, ordered them to spend the day together. "So that you can restore the sisterly love" their mother had explained. 

So off they went to the coastal town, where Holly resented Dream-Sadie for buying cheap jewellery when they could have been visiting fairy circles, and Dream-Sadie resented Holly for looking at tarot cards when they could have been gawking at pasty teenage boys. To be perfectly frank, due to Dream-Sadie's more forceful personality, far more of the former occurred than the latter. Eventually, forty-five minutes before they had to return home, all of their resentment reached boiling point.  Dream-Sadie was determined to end the day by meeting her friends at the pier, which clashed with her sister's desire to have her fortune told by a reportedly genuine mermaid. 

"Oh my god, I am so not blowing my friends out for a fucking mermaid," Dream-Sadie seethed. The air by the mouth of the cave was overly cool, and it raised the hairs at the back of her neck.

"You see your friends all the time. I won't get another chance to see The Mermaid Seer of The West for ages." Holly said, somewhat spitefully. She was used to staying out until dawn performing pagan rituals, and so she did not mind the overt chill of the air.

"That doesn't matter, because mermaids, especially the sort that tell fortunes, do not exist. Sandy, Sarah, and Sam do exist, so I'm going to see them. Ok?"

"No, not ok. Mum said she'd ground us if we split up, remember?"

"Who cares!"

"I care!"

" Like you'd tell on me."

"I might do!"

"Well, whatever. See you later, Holls. Have a nice time with your so-called "mermaid"." And with that, Dream-Sadie left. To get to the pier from the cave, a person would have to walk up many, many slippery steps.

"Fine then! Be a freaking philistine! Live in the present, unaware of the future!" Holly called after her. She would never know if her sister heard those final words.

With a sigh, Holly entered the cave. The interior of the cave was even more ominous and damp than its entrance. For several minutes, as she walked along, the ceiling was so low that she had to crouch. Suddenly, the passageway opened up into a large, airy chamber. In the chamber, sitting on a rock and stoking a fire, was a mermaid. On her lap was a tray, the sort the sort that you would use if you were ill and eating breakfast in bed. Next to the mermaid was a wheelchair that had a dish-rack of filled with a variety of blue-china plates. Near the mouth of the cavern was a sign. It read:

Near Future: £5
Far Future: £10
Whole Future: £100
The mermaid turned to greet Holly. She was wearing a red sparkly top, the sort that cliched gypsy fortune tellers wear. It clashed with her mud brown hair, although it suited the silvery grey of her tail.

"Hi! What can I do for you today?!" Said the mermaid, in a disconcertingly high-pitched voice. It sounded as though she had been inhaling helium.

"Um, hi? Can I have a near future, please?" Holly asked, uncertainly.

"Sure thing!" The mermaid selected one of the smaller china plates, and smashed it into pieces. As the mermaid examined the fragments, she said conversationally,"Sisters can be the worst, can't they?"

"Not the worst. Like, war is the worst. They're the second worst."

"When I was human, I had a sister too! After I turned, she lead a mob to try and kill me. I hid, and later I arranged to have her supper laced with poison. She died super painfully! I know, I could hear her screams all the way from this cave!" The mermaid laughed heartily.

"Well, I wouldn't go that far," Holly paused. She was concerned about her sister. It had only been the previous year that Dream-Sadie had learnt how to use a toaster. "Wait, what do you mean, you "turned"? Aren't mermaids born, you know, mermaids?"

"My precious poisonous plant, mermaids, like werewolves, and vampires, are born as perfect pink human beings! Once, many years ago, while I was swimming in the sea I felt something bite my leg. I thought nothing of it, until I noticed that scales had started to sprout around the the wound. The scales spread and spread, and my legs slowly started to fuse together, until I became how I am today!"

"Gosh," Holly examined her finger nails intensely.

"Anyhow, wouldn't you like to know your fortune?!"

"Go on?"

"Why, this is a super short term fortune! In fact, it came true about a minute and a half after I cast it. You see," The mermaid said, gesturing towards the pile of seemingly incomprehensible shards in her lap,"Your sister, Dream-Snake? Is that what she's called?"

"Dream-Child, but everyone calls her Sadie."

"Of course! Well, Dream-Sadie is dead. She slipped and broke her fragile little neck and drowned as she was walking to the pier! Her friends, who all have suspiciously similar names, will notice her small hand, with its bubblegum pink leopard print nails, bobbing up and down in the ocean. Aannd, that's it for the near future! Can I have my £5 please?"

"Excuse me?" Holly's voice was blank.

"Your sister is dead. Kaput! Her life is over."

"But she can't be."

"But she is!"

"Cast my far future. That will say Sadie's fine, won't it?" Holly's eye's were welling with tears.

"Unless you have £100 in cash on you right now, I can't do that." The mermaid's voice was cool.

"Please, please, please tell me that this is a dream? Or a joke, or something?" Holly was sobbing now. Her tears smudged her eyeliner.

"Well, although Dream-Sadie is dead, you can bring her back."


"Luckily for you, I guard a passage way to the underworld! If you wanted, you could go there and retrieve her. Like Orpheus! It's that way," The mermaid pointed behind herself, to a small door at the back of the the cavern.

Holly ran past the mermaid, pausing only to give her £5. When she reached the door, which was only knee height, Holly clambered through it on all fours. The door, which Holly would later learn could only open from the outside, slammed shut behind her. Its paint had faded long ago, and the handle had finger marks worn onto it from long use.

After the mermaid had watched Holly go, she pulled out a large plate from her wheelchair. As she had fractured it, and pushed the shards around her tray with her long, long fingers, a smile lit up her face like a neon light. What shape the light was contorted into, the message that it told, was unclear.


  1. Hi! I really loved your story, looking forward to reading more :)

    1. Yay, thank you, Anonymous!! You just made my day!

  2. soo good! keep it up xo


    1. Thanks!! I will once my life gets less crazy ;)