Monday, January 27, 2014


Prompt credit.

I wept.

I can remember flashes of what came before, if I really try, but I usually don't. The parts that weren't bad were boring, or else things I imagined anyway, and there's no reason to remember when I first had an idea. Whether I thought of some character's gold eyes from coins passing palms on land, on their boat, in their death.

But I remember the ship, barely a boat. I remember hiding, and what I did to pay passage, and being found anyway, not being given one tenth of the protection he'd promised.

I remember them deciding what to do with me, and I know, from my sisters (and my brothers, and my other siblings--they thought us women; that does not make us so) what they might have done.

But then came the storm, to sweep us away, and their fear outweighed their lust and reason both. They tied my arms and legs that I might not survive, though between the sea and the storm they had no need to waste rope or weight.

I wept, had been weeping, but by the time they finished tying me up to throw overboard my tears were gone. There was hardly any point, crying or not. I would not change their mind. Even if I could, the rain hid them, and the sea would hide them better.

We were scared. I'd been scared and hidden in men's clothing. They'd been scared and threw me overboard.

I wasn't scared when I hit the ocean and got the wind knocked out of me. I wasn't scared when one of my sisters swam up and smiled at me. (I'd thought she was a brother, in the first moment, wondered if there were male mermaids. There are, though she was not one of them. Just as my brothers and many of my other siblings were thrown over when seen for something they weren't, she was thrown over when seen for what she was, seen for what no one had ever believed her to be until it got her drowned.)

She took the ropes off my arms and held me, pulling me down fast enough that the weight pulled my feet up instead of down, and she pulled me down deeper, deeper, enough that I should have been blind but somehow I saw something.

Mariette leaned close to my ear and whispered, "Breathe." I don't know why, but I did.


When I woke, my lungs burned. But my ears were better, sharper; I knew how to move my tongue; the water soothed me when I let my body work my lungs as reflexively as it had always done. My legs...weren't. They were not the tail I have now, not yet, but they were joined, and the rope that had bound them was twisting into my skin. Now, it's a line of gold-brown against my shiny dun. Then, it itched.

I pushed myself up, learning a new body, shrugging out of a shirt that had not fit well when dry and unripped. "Elena," I said to the person who had saved me.

"Mariette," she said, and smiled. She had beautifully sharp teeth. "You'll hunt for yourself when your tail comes in. Until then, I'll help you."

"Are you, ah..."

"I'm a woman. Most of us are." She cocked her head to one side. "And you?"

I blinked. She'd seen me half-dressed. "A woman."

She almost smirked, but her eyes were warm. She knew something I didn't, but I'd learn it soon enough.

I hunted, and I learned, and I sought ships. And every time a ship threw a soon-sibling overboard, we tore out chunks and drowned the sailors and brought our new sibling into our fold. Sometimes we spread; sometimes we joined the seafoam and the wind and the storm; always we sang.

We were never bad luck. Just the fools who threw us overboard.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Dungeon Crawl

It was my first dungeon walk, and, in my defense, it was not my fault that Genevieve stepped on a trap. Okay, yes, it is possible she would have been paying more attention to where she was going if it hadn't been my first dungeon. Or if I hadn't almost lost a hand, a foot, and my voice, however that last one was going to work. But this one still wasn't my fault! Technically!

Honestly, that fact was more surprising than the bars and walls snapping from the ceiling and floor.

I blinked a few times while Gen crouched to tap at the bars with a little stick she kept on her person at all times. Some lights may have flickered, but given that the light was coming from her torch and mine, that may have just been light and dark playing off metallic bars. Eventually, she put the stick away again. "You have to say something true to get the door open," Gen said.

"Uh," I said with great wit and grace, "Then why can't you just--"

"It has to be a person on that side, Charlie." My gut twisted a little, and I may have flinched. She rolled her eyes, though it seemed more aggravation at the situation than at me. "Pick something."

"Two and two makes four."

Silence. A notable absence of movement.


She said something under her breath and the bars definitely gave off some type of light, and it looked like some of it was either going to her or coming from her. "Something true and personal," she corrected. "But," taps with what appeared to be a different stick, how many of those did she have? "It doesn't look like it should need to be a secret. Just something about you. Like, say your name."

"Charlie," I said, and my gut twisted a little, but I had enough warning to brace for it this time so I didn't flinch.

"Hm." Gen furrowed her brow. "Try a full sentence? The spell doesn't feel picky like that, but you never know."

I clenched my jaw, then let it go. "My," breath, "name is Charlie."

No movement, though this time there was a grinding sound. Gen's eyes sharpened on mine. "That isn't true." I started shaking. "Honey," she said, in that I-have-exactly-enough-energy-to-be-gentle-one-more-time voice, "What is your name?"

"I--" Cecilia, Cyan, Francine, Genevieve, Jennifer, Tiana, Titania, Ariel, nothing ever ever ever

(I didn't notice at the time, but looking back I remember her suddenly giving me the same look she had when she'd almost led me into a lightning trap. "You don't have to; you can say something--" I didn't hear her.)

"I don't know!"

There was a different grinding noise, then it went silent and the bars snapped away as easily as they'd come out.

Gen stood up and offered me a hand, which is when I noticed I'd fallen. "If you need someone to lean on, I can help," she said as I stood. "But let's get out of here first, yeah?"

I shook a little. "Yeah."

Thursday, January 9, 2014


I keep
into the part of my brain where my art lives
and finding it


I'm not sure if it's exhaustion
(Have I been sleeping enough?
Eight hours a night.)

Or writer's block
(I've never understood the phrase--
There's always been something there,
I just couldn't get it out right.)

Or something else entirely
(I've had times when  I couldn't find the spot
the place where my art comes from
but this isn't it.)

I imagine it will come back.
She was with me this morning
He may yet visit this evening
Zie tends to come unexpectedly.

But for the moment I am

© 2009-2013 Taylor Hobart