alexconall: the Pleiades (Default)
Alex Conall, social justice bard ([personal profile] alexconall) wrote2013-07-04 03:57 pm

The Food of Love [linkback perk for July Fiction Fishbowl]

Once there was a little mermaid who saved a young fisherman from a storm and promptly fell in love with him. She couldn't live long out of the sea and he couldn't live long in it, so she went to her grandmother, a sea witch, for help.

"I can transform you into a human," said the grandmother, "but it comes at a price. Fish tails are not meant for land, and fish voices cannot be heard out of water, so every step you take on your human legs will be like walking on knives, and you will be unable to speak to other humans. And if your true love does not return your love within a month, the magic will fail and you will die."

"It's worth it," said the little mermaid, confident in her young fisherman.

So the grandmother brought the little mermaid to the shore and there cast the magic to make the little mermaid into a young human woman, to trade her violet-scaled tail for golden-brown legs. The grandmother swam back home without a backward look, already mourning her granddaughter. The young woman who had been a mermaid, meanwhile, tried to take her first steps, and fell on her nose, weeping with pain.

Another young woman found her on the beach and enlisted the help of her own love to carry the once-mermaid to the young woman's home. The once-mermaid wept even more when she understood, because the young woman's love was the once-mermaid's own fisherman. With no voice, how could she persuade the fisherman to love the once-mermaid instead of the young woman? The young woman was a dancer; with legs that barely held her, how could the once-mermaid dance beautifully enough to win his heart?

The once-mermaid hummed to herself, an old song of a sea girl's lament for lost love.

"That's a beautiful song," said the dancer. "I've never heard it before. Do you know how to read music? Can you write it down for me?"

The once-mermaid did not know how to read or write music, or create it except by singing, and was astonished that the dancer was willing to teach her—couldn't she see that the once-mermaid was here to steal the dancer's man? But the once-mermaid learned to write and to play the piano, and with the dancer's help set the sea-girl's lament on paper, and other songs of the sea as well.

The fisherman traded with a carpenter for a wheeled chair for his love's new friend, and the dancer persuaded the once-mermaid to be the pianist for a performance that the dancer hastily choreographed for herself, set to the music of the sea.

The audience was small, only the villagers, but the applause for the once-mermaid's playing was intoxicating. The dancer and once-mermaid immediately began planning a performance in a nearby town.

The end of the month came and the end of the month went, and the once-mermaid never noticed.


Creative Commons License
The Food of Love by Elizabeth Conall is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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