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Mermaid from one of Kathleen Jennings' calenders

Mermaid from one of Kathleen Jennings’ calenders

Current WiP has been inspired by “The Little Mermaid” – it was one of the fairy tales I discussed at one of Brisbane Festival’s In Conversations a couple of week ago, and then I was lucky enough to see Meow Meow’s gorgeously dark, bitterly hilarious cabaret version of the tale.

So a story of fins and sharp implements, potions and loss has been on my mind (instead of the other stuff I’m meant to be doing – but things have been chaotic and tough here lately what with travel and divorce, so I will take the inspiration that comes and not bitch about it, or at least not so much). But I’m more interested in the Sea Witch, a far more compelling character.

‘Go on. It’ll hurt for a while. For your whole life, really, but there’s always a price, isn’t there? Go. Go on, up to the surface. Up, up, up, you silly flighty little thing. To the beach, when the sun hits you … well, you’ll see soon enough. Off you go.’

            I watch as the girl hesitates, looks at the pretty amber bottle clutched tightly in her webbed fingers, face caught between gleeful longing and uncertainty. She opens her mouth to say something, ask a question she should have asked earlier, but all that issues is a wet puff of blood that dissolves in the water around her. Ooops. My suturing needs work.

            But it’s a small thing, I tell her, part of the price. I don’t say, but perhaps I should, that the price for something you want desperately but should not have is always red. ‘Go on now, away with you.’

            And, voiceless, she goes.

Also, go to Kathleen Jennings’ website and check out the mermaids and the Tale of Iceland Travels.

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