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The Little Mermaid (Original Fairytale)

By Genevieve Ann Atwater

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The Little Mermaid stood by the door of her prince, the shattered remains of her heart still throbbing with sorrow. He was married now. She had followed him, silent and in pain, but sweet and happy, for seven years, but now he abandoned her.

It wasn’t his fault, she knew. He knew nothing of her bargain with the sea witch. And yet, after so long, she had hoped he might choose her, even over his old love. Trembling with pain and fear, she left his door, moving with perfect grace despite the feeling of walking on hot knives that had followed her since she became human so many years ago. She was going to die now, as soon as the moon rose to its height. Her very soul would become sea foam. And yet she did not regret the choice she made: to spend these years by his side. Oblivion would be peace after her pain, would it not? She reached the ship’s edge and looked over into the waves. She would stay here and wait, watching the water until she became one with it.

“Sister!”

“Sister!”

The Little Mermaid blinked, squinting at the water in the darkness. What she had thought were fish, or her sad imagination, revealed themselves to be the forms of six merfolk, calling to her from the water. She did not recognize them for a moment; they were shrivelled and bald, but their features were not undeniably changed, and at last, as one of them reached up to her, she realized who they must be.

Her sisters. Yet, how did they become so changed? The Little Mermaid leaned over to edge to let them see she knew them, and her eldest sister placed something in her hand.

“We traded our beauty for this gift to you,” their musical voices called, as their sister drew her hand back to peer at the gift. Her eyes were wet with tears of gratitude. To give so much, for the sister who left them behind… it was a beautiful thing to do, and oh, how could she have left them? Left them for all this pain?

The gift in her hand was a dagger.

“Slay the human prince and his lover,” called her sisters. “And you can return to the sea with us, in your true form! You will live your five centuries of life you were meant to have, at the bottom of the sea! Please, please sister, return to us!”

Slowly, The Little Mermaid turned and walked, swallowing her pain with effort, back towards the prince’s room. Slay him? Surely she couldn’t. She loved him, didn’t she? She had followed him for years, dancing through pain like Hell every day, to be with him. She had given up her family and her home for her love for him.

Knives, hot and sharp, in her feet. Every day, for seven years.

She reached the door and carefully pulled it open, gracefully slipping inside. She was meant to swim in the ocean’s depths, and needed no candle to see. Her prince lay with his bride, lovingly tucked into each other as they slept. Beautiful and happy. She surely could not take that from the man that she loved.

Yet, her sisters loved her too, didn’t they? And her sisters had come for her. They traded their greatest treasure, their own beauty, to bring her home. For all The Little Mermaid had given for her prince, had he ever done anything truly for her? Hadn’t he used her for entertainment and then tossed her aside when his old love returned? Could she abandon her sisters again?”

The prince shifted in his sleep, and The Little Mermaid could see his bride’s face more clearly. It was sweet and intelligent, as the prince had never guessed his silent companion might be. All those years, unable to tell him she loved him, or prove herself any of the things he wanted. All those years of pain, only to be replaced by this human girl. The Little Mermaid felt rage swell in his breast, and she brought the dagger down with a silent cry.

Oh, she hated that woman.

It was all over in a moment, both of them dead in their beds. The Little Mermaid looked down at herself, her hands sticky with the warmth of life now gone; the dress her prince had given her stained with his blood. The Little Mermaid trembled, and turned away, unable to bear the sight. She fled the room, running clumsily for the first time. Stumbling, falling, crawling… the pain she was so used to was gone, the curse on her lifted. Scales began to crawl up her legs, and she kept running. She reached the deck and the ship’s edge, and leapt overboard as her tail returned at last, and the broken shards of her heart melted into the empty cold of a mermaid’s being.

She hit the water and her sisters came to her, so glad to have her back at last. The Little Mermaid stared at them, as their hideous faces rejoiced around her. Somehow, she still hurt. Yet, she swam with them towards her home, letting the blood wash away in the salty sea.

She’d forgotten that blood brought sharks.

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About Genevieve Ann Atwater

Genevieve is an aspiring author who has been dabbling in the arts of storytelling and writing for almost as long as she remembers. She writes mostly in the fantasy genre, and is working towards publishing a romance novel (hopefully within the next year).

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