Enchanted Affairs

“The Little Mermaid’s Revenge”
by Emily Leavitt

The Little Mermaid was pissed. She wished she could toot a zillion sulfurous farts in the prince’s face while he slept. How could he have not remembered, in some deep part of himself, the damp chill of her slick webbed hands on his chest when she performed CPR to save his life, a touch unlike any other human’s? How could he have not remembered her stunning lilac eyes, which would later help him recognize her? True, he woke only briefly after that terrifying inhale of air, asked her who she was, then fainted like a deflated rubber chicken; but she was sure it had been a long enough moment for him to register her face in his memory. She felt betrayed.

When first meeting the Other Woman, the Little Mermaid smiled politely and held her tongue, even though it wouldn’t make a difference, her being mute. She went to get some spiked fruit punch and cursed under her breath in guttural Fishish. The Other Woman looked like Aphrodite, seductive in her little black dress. But she probably had no hunting skills, the Little Mermaid told herself, and she probably had zero musical talent. It seemed all she did was look pretty and giggle at the slightest provocation.

The Little Mermaid taught the prince how to blow a conch shell so it produced a clear, full note. The prince taught her how to shoot an arrow so she could kill a deer in one shot. She skinned a hide, made it into a rug, and decorated the edges with an exquisite weaving of cowrie shells. She gave it to him for Christmas. He played her a song on his harp. They played croquet together and the first time she got drunk he held her hair back for her as she vomited into the royal chamber pot.

That winter when he came down with the flu, she cooked him a roast: one of the myriad palace poodles he always complained about; they never stopped yapping! When he asked what type of meat it was, she drew him a picture of venison. He said he knew but didn’t care. She felt embarrassed; he was probably lying so she wouldn’t feel bad. When he said it was delicious, the Little Mermaid sighed in relief. He added that if he could, he would get rid of every palace poodle in this manner, but his queen mother would have a fit. They laughed about the possibility for a long time. They couldn’t help chuckling at the dinner table when the queen asked if anyone had seen Monsieur Fru Fru. The queen’s handmaid ordered a new Fru Fru from the royal dog breeder, and the very next day, an identical Monsieur Fru Fru magically appeared in the garden.

The Little Mermaid thought their time together had meant something to the prince, but perhaps it didn’t mean the same thing to him as it did for her. The prince brought her to the cliff where they sometimes dove into the lake below or watched sunsets while munching on tortilla chips and guacamole.

“We’re getting married,” the prince said with a sparkly smile. She wanted to slap it off his stupid face. She couldn’t stop staring into his eyes as if to say, She doesn’t know you as well as I do. But the prince didn’t recognize this, whether on purpose or because he was blinded by his lusty little crush on The Other Woman.

“Do you like her?” said the prince.

Uh let me think-NO! I want to throw her into a boiling volcano! The Little Mermaid yelled in her mind, but to the prince she simply nodded and gave him a hug. He asked her if she would help design the wedding dress. She thought of ways she could make it as ugly as possible.

~*~

The Little Mermaid went back to the beach, that idealized location to get jiggy at, that place where dead bodies of immigrants trying to reach the kingdom sometimes washed up and were hastily collected and burned, that place she had so often dreamed about as an entry point to the enchanting world of humans, with their legs that could run and jump and dance and prance. The Little Mermaid took a conch shell from her satchel and blew into it, a baritone melody to call up the witch from the depths. The witch, always on time for appointments, sent up a fish like a cannon ball: a signal to say she was coming. The Little Mermaid usually threw the fish back into the ocean, but she let this one die. It was just a fish. There were more of them.

While the Little Mermaid waited she examined her legs. They were not unshapely, and pretty tan. She had a bunion on one side of her right foot, but other than that they were small and dainty, with a ballerina’s arch. The Little Mermaid wished her feet were big so she could kick the prince in the stomach, and then the witch. She was planning to attempt such an attack when the witch arrived, but in psychic hindsight the witch sensed the siren’s simmering irritation. Instead of emerging from the surf in a normal fashion, the witch blinked into existence in a grand puff of smoke and a sound that went ping! She even produced little flames that snaked into the air and hissed out.

The Little Mermaid didn’t react. She stared at the ground, scooped up sand and let it run through her hands. Why do you appear like you’re ringing a doorbell to a house that’s on fire? the Little Mermaid thought, This isn’t the cinema. You don’t have to be so dramatic.

The witch plopped down beside the Little Mermaid and picked strings of seaweed from her hair. She laughed, “I actually did live in a house that was on fire, once upon a time.

In Hell I suppose? asked the Little Mermaid.

“Yes, I was married to the Devil.”

The Little Mermaid looked at the witch in disbelief. Not many people could say they had been married to the Devil. Are you lying? said the Little Mermaid.

“No,” said the witch, and gazed nostalgically out at the ocean, “No, that was a true love I could never lie about.”

The Devil– the Devil loved you?

“He may have his evil side, but he has his good side, too,” the witch affirmed while magically summoning mussels from the deep and throwing them to gathering sea gulls. “It’s hard to believe, I know, but he can be tender.”

Look what you’ve done, brought all these squawking wretches to our side. Let’s walk. So they got up and started down the beach.

The Little Mermaid didn’t understand how somebody who delighted in disasters and death could be capable of love, but she would understand later on, when she too would do something that she didn’t think she could do.

Did you leave him for the ocean? wondered the Little Mermaid. Do you really like fish or something? I’ll bet Hell was unpleasantly hot.

“No, not really,” the witch shook her head, “Hell is actually great fun. It’s one big party down there. They have casinos and prostitutes galore, just like Las Vegas.”

So, did you leave him for someone else or did he cheat on you? I’ll bet he did.

“Yes,” the witch lamented in a tone mixed with bitterness and sorrow, “He left me for Persephone. It would have been one thing if he had done the deed with her up here and not told me. That way it might not have hurt so much. But he had to bring her back for the winters, just because she ate some goddamn food from the underworld. What petulant attitudes those gods had. I tried to respect their ways, to mind her presence, but it was too much. It was like having a tumor on the side of your face and trying to pretend it’s not there.”

I’m sorry, said the Little Mermaid, I know how you feel.

“No,” said the witch, “I’m sorry. He was supposed to fall in love with you.”

I know, that was our plan. My plan.

They walked on a little father and said nothing before the witch asked, “I’m just curious, why didn’t you try to kick me like you were planning to?”

Because-I realized that not even you can control love, and it’s not your fault he fell in love with someone else.

“Infatuated,” the witch corrected.

Whatever. For me it’s all the same. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’m going to be depressed for the rest of my life.

“Here, here,” said the witch, “This will pass. You have options. You could travel! Where do you want to go?”

I want to return to the sea. I’m tired of the world of humans, their conflicts, their global warming. I just want to wait until the sea rises high enough to swallow the lot of them, and then I’ll have the last laugh.

“You’re just upset with your prince,” said the witch, “Don’t take it out on the whole human race. They may be immature and violent, but they’re not all like that.”

Whatever, said the Little Mermaid,  just take me back to the sea.

“I can’t just do it,” said the witch.

What do you mean? You’re like Jesus. You can walk on water, bring on floods.

“You have to pay a price,” smiled the witch.

You’re a bitch, complained the Little Mermaid, but you did make it possible for me to spend valuable time up here. What do you want?

The witch grinned with cunning, and from her robe of overlapping fish nets she removed a rusty dagger with a jeweled handle. She handed it to the Little Mermaid, who didn’t take it.

No thanks, the Little Mermaid replied, I’ll just stay here and watch him get married. I’m not cruel enough to kill anybody.

“I never said you had to kill anyone,” said the witch, “Just nick him on the elbow or something, spill a little bit of his blood on yourself; then go to the sea and as soon as your feet touch the water’s edge, you’ll turn back into a mermaid. But if you want to get revenge, go ahead and kill him. I personally think that would be more fun, but do whatever you want. Then, with a poof and a ping! the witch disappeared, letting the dagger to fall to the sand. The Little Mermaid picked it up and put it in her satchel. She didn’t want to leave it for anyone to find. As she walked back to  the castle to mope, she wondered why the witch and her type of folk were obsessed with blood sacrifices. Why doesn’t she want my hair, or my eyes? She already has my voice. I wouldn’t mind being bald or blind down there. It’s not like we can see or hear anything that deep.

~*~

And that was why the Little Mermaid had wanted so badly to venture up here, where water did not warp light or sound. Down there, people sat lazily around thermal vents to keep warm, gossiping with the plankton and trying to break the boredom by pulling out the hair-teeth of sperm whales and upsetting them. Besides practicing the art of indolence, what merpeople wanted most was to join the Nirvana of Foam, their mythical source of existence. To achieve this end, folks sat around meditating and consuming silver blobs of mercury that floated through the ocean like wobbly disco balls. They provided light in the dreary, benthos dim. The Little Mermaid had no idea who proclaimed them to be holy, but someone had long ago, and now people sought them for the psychedelic visions they induced. Some people even claimed they could communicate with ancient mergods. The Little Mermaid wouldn’t partake in any of that rubbish.

As a merbaby she would dream that her father had had an affair with a human lady and the Little Mermaid had been born a freak with a fish tail but human qualities. As a mergirl she would claim she had lost her belly button and go looking for it. Adult merpeople would laugh kindly and whisper among themselves, Oh, what an imaginative child! But the Little Mermaid didn’t care a smidge. She just said she lost her belly button as an excuse to wander off and collect human garbage, like plastic bags and soda cans, so she could study human culture. If she had told them the truth, they probably would have deemed her mad and thrown her in the mental institution, which was guarded by butch octopuses that nobody wanted to mess with. They could asphyxiate you in seconds.

As a merlescent, to pass the time the Little Mermaid would hang around Bad Barracuda’s, the local pub, and watch the crackly black-and-white TV that showed old movies and shows from up above. People would gather around the TV for entertainment, but most believed humans had died off a long time ago and that the bartender just had a great collection of ancient human artifacts. Other knick knacks lined the driftwood walls, like a case of un-eaten jello cups, and a phonograph that played wobbly sounding Bach when cranked up.

“They’re real!” the Little Mermaid shouted, jabbing her taxidermic sword fish (which she speared food with) at the television, again and again so that the crowd around it backed away, afraid to get poked. The Little Mermaid turned to face them, their gilled faces cagey around this nutty little merlescent. “They’re not legend. They’re NOT!”

Oskar the Octopus, the pub’s bouncer, came over and tried to pacify her. “Sweethaat,” he said, wrapping several arms firmly around her shoulders and with two others removing the weapon from her trembling hands. “Der’s no need to get so excited. It’s just a movie.”

“Yeah, chill out,” said some merdude who thought he was a stud. He had quite a few barnacles stuck to his jaw.

“Hey, crustacean face, when’s the last time you bothered to shave?” snarled the Little Mermaid, baring her shark-tooth braces.

Then, out of the back of the pub, a merhag floated forward, oscillating her ragged fins with a grandmotherly grace. “Ayy,” she said, “Let me take the missy aside. I’ll have a talk with her, put some sense into her poor muddled head.”

“Sense?” the Little Mermaid cried, still restrained by Oskar, “All you people know is nonsense. Don’t talk to me about being rational. You’re all a bunch of dimwits. Don’t you care about what’s out there?

“Out where?” said the merhag, gently.

“UP!” shrieked the Little Mermaid, “UP! THERE!” Some people looked up at the roof. The Little Mermaid shook her head with a mixture of pity and impatience.

When she seemed to have calmed down, Oskar released his grip and went back to work. People went up to the bar for more ale and mercury. The Little Mermaid stalked off, her fins wagging violently from side to side. The merhag followed her outside.

“What do you want?” said the Little Mermaid.
“I want to help you,” said the merhag.

“Well you can’t. The only help I need is going up there, and nobody believes it exists.”
“I do,” said the merhag, “I know.”

The Little Mermaid stopped waggling off. She swished around in a flutter of bubbles and asked, “Are you crazy like me, or do you really know something I don’t?”

“I know a lot of things you don’t. If you come to my cave I will teach you what you need to know, and I will help you.”

The Little Mermaid squinted at the merhag. “Help me with what? You’re being really vague.”

“I will help you prepare to go up there.”

~*~

With the branches twining knotty and the glass drooling soundless raindrops outside her window, the Little Mermaid clutched the dagger to her chest. She took a few deep breaths, then got out of bed and slid across the splintery floor. During midnight outings to the kitchen or the labyrinthine gardens the Little Mermaid had tried to tiptoe, but that made too many creaking noises so she now preferred to coast across the floor until she reached the cold stone  halls.

Like a bandit, a flickering shadow she moved, until she reached the prince’s royal chamber. She knew the path well, for many a night she met him to play poker; they gambled cowrie shells and fallen pence they found on the floor of the banquet hall.

She perched herself at the foot of his bed and woke him gently by prodding his foot a few times. He woke and smiled at her. He thought she had come to tell him something in her sign language. She had the knife concealed behind her back. She removed it carefully, and suddenly the prince’s eyes flashed with fear. He would never have imagined that this friend would hold him for ransom, as others had tried to do in the past. He backed up towards the headboard of his  bed, and with his hands out in front of him, he tried to appease her.

“Look, however much money you want, I’ll give it to you. Please, just wait until morning when I can go to the royal vault, and I promise you–”

The Little Mermaid shook her head and frowned. She wanted to shout, I love you, dammit. Why did she give the witch her voice? She should have given up her beauty. At least then she wouldn’t have to make do with these awkward nonverbal gestures.

She put the knife in her lap and the prince seemed to relax a bit. “I’m glad you understand–“ he began to say, but the Little Mermaid grabbed the knife again and pointed it at him, level to his forehead. He shrunk back up against the headboard. “Okay, okay,” he gulped, “I’m listening.”

She put the knife down again, pointed to her heart, then pointed to his.

Do you get it now, ignoramus? she wanted to ask.

He had to think about it for a minute.

Then his face lit up all Eureka-like. “OH!” he exclaimed too loudly, but managed to swallow it. “Oh my–”

The Little Mermaid nodded, satisfied but still annoyed. Yep, she thought, Finally. She sighed. See what I mean?

“Look,” said the prince, “I like you, I really do, but I have to marry her. Weâ’ve been betrothed since–”

Since my non-existent mermaid ass, she thought, then chuckled to herself because it was ironic that she actually now did have an ass.  She inhaled a pocket of air in one cheek and squelched it out to make a farting noise. This usually signified to the prince that she was trying to be funny, or that everything was okay if they had an argument.

“Well,” the prince said, feeling optimistic, “you do understand, don’t you?”

Um–NO. Do you have any idea what I went through to get here, to get to know you like no one else does?

Of course he didn’t, and she couldn’t blame him for that. But she wasn’t going to let him off so easily for her having become his confidante, his hunting buddy, his poker partner, when all the other dukes in the kingdom just wanted to bench press in his gym for the prestige of being able to say that they had, or when all the dames just wanted to dance with him in the hopes of one day becoming queen and gaining power over the fashion industry.

She gripped the knife in both hands and pointed it at his heart, signaling that she wasn’t afraid to drive it in, even though she knew she could never do that. She’d rather be arrested, but as long as he thought she might go through with it, there was hope. She was almost hyperventilating, and by this point he was too.

“Please, I beseech you,” he said, prostrating himself before her. She couldn’t quite believe it but some part of her liked this power she had over him.

The Little Mermaid got an idea. She took him by the wrist and made him sit up. Okay, I won’t take you hostage,  but show me where she is. The Little Mermaid twirled a lock of her hair and giggled like a ditz to imitate the Other Woman. The prince understood. He could save his own life by letting the Little Mermaid take the life of the Other Woman. He would be sad to see the Little Mermaid get arrested, but he had his future to think of, and he could always find another princess after the murder, which he hoped would not include him as a victim.

He led the Little Mermaid through the jowls and veins of the castle until they came to the guest room chambers. He told the Little Mermaid to conceal herself behind a heavy curtain, and he knocked on the door.

“Oh cheesecake, I’ve come to wake you for a midnight tryst,” he called softly.

Cheesecake? thought the Little Mermaid, I could do better.

The door opened slowly, and the thin mousy face of the princess appeared, her body clad in lacy pink lingerie.

I would wear black, the Little Mermaid criticized silently. Black is sexier.

“I’m sorry to have woken you so late–“ the prince began.

“It’s all right, darling,” squeaked the princess, took his hands in hers, and kissed them lightly, “Shall we go get a glass of wine?”

The prince had told the Little Mermaid to wait but she wouldn’t any longer. She busted out from behind the curtain. In under a second she shoved the prince out of the way and had the princess locked under one arm with the dagger not far from her throat.

“Well, that ruined my plans of calling for help,” sighed the prince. The Little Mermaid smiled impishly, pleased that she had the upper hand now. The prince advised the princess not to speak, but to listen to the Little Mermaid, and everything would be okay.

“But what in the world is going on?” cried the princess, and the Little Mermaid brought the dagger under her chin. She shut her mouth immediately.

Awkwardly, the Little Mermaid half-dragged and half-led the princess down to the beach. The prince followed, terrified, promising the Little Mermaid all sorts of riches and royal positions she could have, but she looked straight ahead. The sea oats swished in the salt-scented wind. The darkness wrapped in wraith-like shadows around them, crinkling its many tongues over their unprotected skin. Though it was cold they were all perspiring. The prince and the princess thought this was the end, but the Little Mermaid was going to make it a beginning. What kind of beginning, she wasn’t sure, but she wasn’t afraid to find out.

The Little Mermaid made the princess lie down on the sand and signaled for the prince to pin down her arms. The Little Mermaid sat on top of her, one hand holding the dagger to her neck. With the other hand, the Little Mermaid removed her conch shell from her satchel.

The princess began to cry.

“Please don’t weep darling,” soothed the prince, who started to weep himself, “Everything will be okay, I promise. I’ll think of something.”

“Please do soon,” said the princess, and with an edge of anger in her voice, she said, “How did you meet this chick anyway? She’s crazy! People like you shouldn’t associate with people like her.”

The prince was about to explain when the Little Mermaid hissed at the princess through her teeth to shut her up. She felt a little bad about the prince crying, but once he realized what she was doing, she was sure that in time, he would forgive her. Or so she hoped.

The Little Mermaid skillfully used one hand to steady the conch shell on her knee. She inhaled and blew into it, and the somber melody that summoned the witch resounded several times. The prince looked back towards the castle, wondering if someone heard it.

It wasn’t long before the witch sent a fish shooting out from some mysterious origin. The fish landed at the mermaid’s feet. She picked it up and hurled it into the surf. The slender silhouette of the witch soon emerged from the inky black waves, like the corpse of a long-dead sailor coming home, forgetting he was dead and thinking his family was still waiting for him. The witch strode up to the trio of hostage, helpless prince and hostage-taker. The prince and princess watched in awe of this ghostly creature, and then unadulterated horror broke over their faces as a wash of moonbeam illuminated the witch. Her eyes were a shocking indigo, the pupils Antarctic white. She had no eyelashes or eyebrows, in fact no hair at all. Her nose was proud and stately, her lips were wide and green. Her face, torso and limbs seemed to be just bone covered by a thin, callous, colorless membrane. From the back of her skull trailed a phosphorescent cascade of fish scales. She had gills in her neck like a merperson’s, webbed hands, and flippers instead of feet.

“Oh my God!” shrieked the princess, “They’re going to eat us!”

The witch examined the prince and princess for a moment. She focused on the princess and bent down on her haunches, getting right in the girl’s trembling face. The witch sniffed her golden locks, cupped the princess’s teacup chin in her dry palm, then said, “Don’t worry, I wouldn’t eat you. You’re too clean. I’d have to kill you first and let you rot for a couple of months. I’m not going to waste my time.”

Then she looked at the Little Mermaid. “What did you call me up here for? I gave you the dagger to get revenge. To get justice.”

I want my revenge in a different way.

“How do you mean?” said the witch. “In all of my dealings with your folk, this is the first time a merperson like yourself has not wanted to get revenge by spilling blood. Most of you are quite tribal; I’m surprised. Have the humans rubbed off on you?”

Never mind that, said the Little Mermaid, wanting to get down to business. The princess and the prince looked on, confused at the seemingly one-way conversation; they didn’t realize the Little Mermaid could communicate telepathically with the witch.

Here’s what I want, said the Little Mermaid, I want you to change her into a mermaid, or send her back to where she came from, or erase her memory of the prince, something so that she has a new life, without him.

“Hmm,” said the witch, “Let’s just send her back to her own kingdom. I think sending her down there would be too cruel. Even you didn’t like it. That’s why you came here.”

Okay, good point, the Little Mermaid agreed.  Just send her back to her own kingdom.

“Done,” said the witch, and with a snap of her fingers, the princess was gone, poof! The Little Mermaid fell on her butt. The prince glanced at the spot where the princess had been, then lunged at the Little Mermaid. The witch grabbed him by the collar and held him up in the air. He struggled, amazed that this skinny, ugly creature had so much physical strength.

“I’ll have my guards burn you at the stake!” he yelled, “When I get to the bottom of this!”

The witch whispered a spell to paralyze the prince, temporarily, from the neck down. She then placed him gently on the sand.

“Oh my God, I can’t move!” he said, and looked to the Little Mermaid, imploring her with his eyes.

“Don’t worry,” said the witch, “Your princess is safe. She’s back in her own kingdom now, sound asleep, with no memory of you.”

“Who–who are you?” the prince asked of the witch, and turning his face again to the Little Mermaid, he said, “And who are you? You’re not who I thought you were.”

The Little Mermaid hung her head in shame. The witch defended her: “She’s come a long way, and she cares about you.”

“She cares about me?” cried the prince. “She tried to kill me!”

“No,” said the witch, “She didn’t. That was just a ploy to get you to come here.”

“Jesus,” said the prince, “Please just explain to me what’s going on, and I promise I won’t bring any charges against you.”

The witch laughed, “You’d be shark bait before that happens. But listen, and listen closely. I’m going to tell you her story, and you can decide if it weaves into yours….  ”

~*~

When he learned of the Little Mermaid’s journey, the witch released the paralysis. The prince got up slowly, rubbed his arms, and shook out his limbs. The Little Mermaid was still looking away from him, unsure of how he would react or if he would forgive her.

“I’ll let you two decide what you’re going to do now,” said the witch.

Can I have my voice back, just for now? said the Little Mermaid.

The witch snapped her fingers and the Little Mermaid felt a jolt in her throat, as if a hand had punched her from the inside, reached up through her esophagus and placed a quiver of sound in her mouth. She couldn’t speak for a few moments. She moved her tongue around in her mouth, flicking it off her front teeth, the roof of her mouth, and all the other places from which people produce speech.

When she could finally speak, she said to the prince, in a shy voice, “I’m sorry.”

The prince, who was so used to her being mute, didn’t say anything for a moment either. Then he said, “I guess you should be. You totally ruined my wedding plans.”

“I–I know. I’m sorry. I know you loved her.”

The prince had to think about that one for a minute. “Mmm… nah.”

“What?”

“Nah, I didn’t love her. She was a nice girl, but I didn’t love her.”

“So–so do you want to be with me?

The witch stood silently off to the side. She was having fun observing this exchange of human adolescents. They never ceased to fascinate her.

“Well, I dunno,” said the prince, “I don’t even really wanna get married–”

“Oh, me neither,” the Little Mermaid agreed, “I just meant, do you–”

“Do I love you? I don’t know. I’d have to get to know you better. I know we’ve spent a lot of time together, and that we had a way of communicating, but this is the first time we’ve actually talked! I mean–”

“It’s okay,” said the Little Mermaid, “I can’t force you to love me -”

“No!” the prince interrupted her, “I like you. A lot. But we’re both so young. I’m just not ready, you know?”

The Little Mermaid shook her head as if to clear away dizziness. “Oh,” she said, “Well, that’s okay. I understand. I’m like that too. I just thought that, that getting married was the only way I could be with you.”

“No,” said the prince, “You can be with me anyway. You’re like-you’re the bestest friend I’ve ever had.”

The Little Mermaid blushed and laughed at the prince’s poor grammar. The witch thought Aawww!

“Okay kiddies,” said the witch, “Do you still need my help? I’ve got places to go, people to see.”

The prince and the Little Mermaid looked up. They had almost forgotten the witch was there.

“Well,” said the Little Mermaid, hesitating, “I was thinking … do you want to be a bird?”

“Um–I kind of like being human,” said the prince.

The witch was growing impatient. She had havoc to wreak on other continents.

“If we were birds, we could go anywhere we wanted.”

“Um–if you wanted to try it for like a week, I’d be down with that.”

“Okay,” said the Little Mermaid, and she turned to the witch. “Can you turn us into birds for one week?”

“Uh, sure,” said the witch, “But I must say, that’s an odd request. Most folks would want riches, or fame –”

“Well, I just want freedom,” said the Little Mermaid, “So, make us into–”

“Hawks,” said the prince, “I like hawks.”

“But I like herons.”

“So I’ll make him into a hawk and you into a heron,” said the witch, “Done.” She snapped her fingers three times, and before her stood a small, sprightly hawk and a graceful heron. They checked out each other’s feathers and nodded in approval.

“Okay,” said the witch, “Fly wherever you want, but remember to come back in one week so you don’t drown somewhere out over the ocean. Got it?”

The birds nodded and took off towards the horizon. Dawn was beginning to bleed into the sky, creeks of peach and capillaries of rose streaking out into the expanse, stars turning over and going to sleep. The witch wiped her forehead. Whew! Work done for the day in this dimension, she snapped herself out of existence, off to help other heroines who could barely imagine what was coming. There was one girl waiting in a tower, and another whose fairy godmother was a little too bibbity bobbity in the head. The witch was going to give these girls one of the best tools they would ever own– the power to decide for themselves.

The End.

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