She loves to swim, he tells me. She loves to swim, as if that's all that matters. As if the only qualification to enter the castle is “loves roses”, as if the only reason to kiss the maiden is a spinning wheel fetish.

As if.

She loves to swim. You'll love this one, she loves to swim. You have a tail, and gills, and you've been waiting so long for someone that obviously you'll settle for the first girl who loves. To. Swim.

I have a tail, and gills. And I don't love to swim. I don't tell him You'll love this one, she loves to walk. I just swim. He walks. He rules his kingdom and I rule mine, and I don't tell him how to do his thing. I sort of wish he'd stop telling me how to do mine. I often wish he'd put half the effort into his kingdom that he puts into this relationship, and I really wish he'd stop trying to make it something I enjoy.

You'll love this one. She loves to swim.

He's standing on the balcony again, talking to me. Assuming I'll be there, listening. And I am and I'm not, but the curl of the waves carries his voice to me. It carries all the voices to me, all the voices in my kingdom. I lift a horned head, salt-crusted and ancient, and answer him back in the splash of the sea against the shore.

Give her to me.

I can't tell what she looks like, any more than I can see the king on his balcony, any more than I can appreciate the gold and jewels they use to weigh her down. But I can feel her, as they throw her off of the sacrificial stones, my arms reaching up to catch her, lithe and slender and all bones and heavy gold. Her hair waves and curls around my fingers, her arms spread out to embrace me, and she slips through my hands.

She glitters, I'm certain, as she falls drifting down and down and down. She glitters and shimmers and disappears into the dark depths of my disappointment.

She loves to swim.

She doesn't float.

Prompt: Nightmare Fuel, day 9



Planting Season

Let me tell you something about planting. You want to go out in the fields in the early morning, when the dirt is all humps and furrows and plow-marks, when it's soft and well-turned and ready for the seeds. You want to go when the dew is still clinging to the air, when it's wet […]

Market Day

On Thursdays, we ride the subway train to the skin markets. Mother says that it's terribly bourgeois of us to ride the subway train, and go to the market, and get out where others can see us with our old skins on. Mother says that we're filthy by Thursday, and the subway train is filthy, […]

When you buy an angel

When you buy an angel, a man comes right to your door.   He comes with a bowler hat and a briefcase and the smell of garlic and new cars around him, and he walks up and rings the doorbell with a white-gloved finger. When you answer the door, he says “How do you do” […]


She never had liked the fish.   There wasn't any particular why about it, not really. Not unless you counted the cold sliminess of its scales, or the black unblinking eyes, or the toothless O of its mouth, or the general fishiness of the horrible little orange thing. It was, in fact, the whole package […]

Four Bells

The ship rode silently through the night. All the lights aboard that could be seen were shuttered, tiny stars of light indistinguishable from the sky. The sails were black, pinpointed with phosphors to avoid casting a shadow. The hull was soft, ragged; the lap of waves against it muffled and silenced. It was a ghost […]

North Face

We left the base camp a week ago. They told us it was bad luck to try the north face before the midnight sun had set, but Evelyn doesn’t believe in luck. Didn’t believe in luck. Not even when all of the guides sat down and refused to come with us, Evelyn didn’t believe in […]

Timed Charge (Adult Content)

She is staring at herself in the mirror again, and he can’t help but notice and feel excluded. It’s a ritual, a religious observation for a congregation of one, no visitors allowed; her eyes are dead and blank and seeing something other than her face. So he sits on the couch and tries not to […]

Stone and Sea

A thousand thousand years ago, or so time is reckoned in the depths of the sea, there was a kingdom, and a cruel king, and a wicked god. And there was a tale that you have heard — because I have told it to you every night of your life — of love, and betrayal, […]

Winter Wood

It is cold in the woods, in winter. Cold, and so quiet you can hear your breath freezing in the space between heartbeats. All the summer sounds of the forest: the laughter of birdsong, the stuttering whisper of leaves in the wind, the murmur of distant streams; they are all gone, in the winter. They […]