8.10 / October 2013 :: Queer 4

Mermaids

listen to this story

I know a girl who lives in the ocean and she says we have everything down here except for popcorn. She is lying, of course, I know that candyfloss also goes limp in the waves, I know they can’t collect stamp books, I know there is no such thing as a candlelit dinner, but I smile and hold her hand anyway, because she is what she is. And besides, she laughs at me when I curse the internet, when I curse the stairs; she says, Janey, it’s time you joined me, come on, I’ll show you my Christmas tree coral if you show me your smile.

And I think about it, I really do, because the colours down there are some kind of electroshack love parade and the weightless tits-up arse-over-heels feels good. I think about it because whenever I see my mermaid mate grin with all her teeth glimmering like mother of pearls, I start to think she’s got some secret handshake with the gods and they never fret over wet palms, they never even notice. They don’t have hung-head nervousness because the world is a buoyant beach ball, the world is a smattering of sand, your heart and your body that you thought you’d heft around forever are different down there: shuttelcocked and spacemanned. Down there you feel different and different is fine.

I never ask my mermaid princess dipshit queen to come up any more because the one time we did, it ended in tears. I didn’t know her high-ho silver tail would slip and slide on the pedal of the mint green convertible; she didn’t know the convertible wasn’t mine. I just wanted to feel us, side by side, heading up a cliff, black hole sunglasses as big as fishbowls, silk scarf chic keeping our hair tamped down. I just wanted to rev and rev at the all-night-burger drive-through dream. I wanted to lick her day-glo neon grease teeth. I thought in the parking lot she’d be loose and lovely on a rush of pure animal flesh, I thought she’d be wild. I had dreamed so long and so technicolour about the makeout hill that I never stopped to think that us plus the wall
makes                          kaboom.

I try to tell her let’s compromise baby, let’s take ourselves to the very loud bang bang waterfall, I will sit on the rock and you can flip in the pool. I would take my ass down to Monica Drive and tip the rollerboy an extra bill for a cut out soaked stamp of L-S-D spangleshot. Place the multicoloured ship beneath your twitching tongue and watch all these forest branches weft and weave, watch the water turn to feathers, turn to birds of paradise, flutter, watch the sky and the senses invert, watch me become a mermaid, watch you split and stand, and don’t forget to lick lick lick those toads. She tells me I’m a dolt and a ditherer; she tells me it’ll never happen. She says Janey, Janey, you don’t even know. You’ve got no sense of the sea.

Lately I’ve been standing at the harbour where the fishermen scatter nets and I want to find a nice one and see if he’ll let me commandeer his floating tin can. I want to charm him with a nod wink (I want to steal his boats). Lately I’ve been wearing fishnets down there because I think that’s some kind of way to catch something good. I’ve been trawling, no matter if I dredge up this seabed, no matter if I upset the clams. I thought my butt and my kiwi curls were brightly coloured lures enough to tempt the hardiest grownup, I though I was fishbait, but lately I’ve been thinking, what if I’m just worms?

I know a girl who lives in the ocean and she tells me it’s better than the real world, she says put your ankles together and see what happens, she says float, she says sink, you’ll be fine. I want to blow bubbles in her netherworld but under the sea my gum don’t snap and I don’t know if I’m ready to give up on stairs and cinema. I don’t know if I’ve had enough of the this-world yet. I tell her I’m thinking about it and she laughs and flips her tail like a dolphin and I tell her come back but she is already deeper than my voice can carry. She is already way down there.


Jane Flett is a philosopher, cellist, and seamstress of most fetching stories. Her poetry is featured in Salt’s Best British Poetry 2012 and her fiction has been commissioned for BBC Radio, awarded the SBT New Writer Award, and performed at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Find her at www.janeflett.com.
8.10 / October 2013 :: Queer 4

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