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issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii 



issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii issue ii 

The Siren's Kiss

Reagan Brady | prose

It was a good day to drown.

The clouds had clustered overhead, black and gray bruises, or perhaps obsessive lovers, blocking out the sky until there was them, only them. And the wind, oh! Any who say the sea breeze is sweet has not tasted its wrath, not during a storm; it is both savage and sad, ripping your flesh asunder.

Marjorie stood atop a rocky cliff. The waves frothed far below, ravenous; seafoam broke over the jagged rocks like teeth. Carnivorous, the ocean snarled.


“I don’t understand,” Marjorie croaked. Amphibious.

Her eyes were damp with tears, and her heart broke in a way only your first love could do. You know the pain. But Marjorie—sweet girl Marjorie, with oat-colored hair and her cheeks, supple in their youth, dappled with freckles like sunlight—she was in love with a man.

And with a roar, the sky cracked open. In that instance, he was unlike she’d ever seen him; he was not kind and gentle, as he was when they baked together, only a month previous. Then, she had sucked the strawberry jam off her fingers. It was thick and red and sweet, not unlike the sort that ran down her thighs and the tongue of he who had consoled her: “don’t cry, don’t cry.”

His face now was cold and hard. There was none of that gentleness now. Veiled by the rain as he was, he was almost inhuman. A wraith, a nightmare in the flesh. A harbinger of death. He seemed, to Marjorie, a shadow of his former self; hair had grown from his forearms until he was nearly sheathed in it, and the crescent of his smile was sharp as knives.

For Marjorie was too young to know—the worst wolves are hairiest on the inside.

The rain fell harder now, turning the world around the young girl gray as famine, as unkind as starvation.

What a silly girl, Marjorie! Who had mistaken a beast’s temporary infatuation for love. Evil can never be tamed; even leashed, it will bite and growl until its teeth boil and rot. And even then, it will chew with its gummy mouth. 

Hark! The only way to combat evil is with a stake through the heart, or the bewitching flame of the pyre… or matching it.

Which Marjorie, sweet and gentle Marjorie, could never amount to. If only she knew that the tiger will never lay with the lamb.

Marjorie’s bleat caught in her throat.

She hurtled through the air, the wind whispering, whistling. Within it, she heard the harrowing cries of girls long dead. They spoke her name like a eulogy, calling, cajoling…

Do you know what it feels like to drown?

The water collapsed overhead; the ocean had opened its monstrous maw and swallowed the girl whole. And the water had teeth. It was cold, biting, and dug into the softness of her flesh with a hiss. It was not a gentle mistress.

As soon as she’d plunged beneath the surface, she was surrounded by eternal night. There were no stars down here. There were no fireflies, no balmy summer breeze—nothing but emptiness—and worse, terrifying fullness.

Unseen fingers dragged her deeper, ever deeper. The more she struggled, the stronger their hold, pulling her further below the waves. The darkness pressed around her at all sides, a lecherous thing.

Marjorie’s chest threatened to burst. Asphyxiation, broken-heartedness; she could still feel where his fingers had clamped around her neck. She flailed and cried. Of course, nothing came out. The ocean had no time or need for tears. It had been made of them. Born of them.

Her eyes stung. She would drink in the nothingness, for it was all she had left.

But I am Marjorie. And this is not where my story ends.

A creature, equal parts beautiful as it was horrifying, appeared before me. Tendrils of hair, like seaweed, billowed from her scalp. She stared with black eyes, unblinking. I could only see her through the curtain of darkness due to the glow of her scales, crested along her face and body, the milky blueness of her skin in sharp contrast to the midnight surrounding her.

I was deep now, too deep; the sea had swallowed me. I sat in the pit of its stomach, my chest bursting, aching. No light of the surface reached this forsaken place.

The creature tilted her head. Her mouth opened, her tongue clicked; teeth like needlepoints clustered in her mouth, spilling from her black gums.

And yet, the sight of her monstrous maw did not frighten me the way it should have. There was little but a calm acceptance that had settled in my mind, similar to the sight of a season’s first snow. Or the stillness that accompanied standing beneath a waterfall.

I was going to die. She saw it in my eyes, in the blueness of my face. Even now, the edges of my vision blurred, and darkened; the light of her scales was not enough to chase away my encroaching death.

Sharp nails dug into my arm. I felt myself be tugged with a fierce ravenousness that did not heed the tearing of my skin. The last I saw of her were teeth, sharp and hungry.


I died that day.

It was both the beginning and the end of everything.

The cave in which I awoke was damp, water dripping like saliva; the stalagmites were the teeth of a hungry dog, a rabid creature. But it was solid ground.

I pressed my hand to my chest. There was no longer a heartbeat there; there was nothing but still, dead silence. I took a breath. The air was heavy with moisture. And outside the lip of the cavern lurked a pool of water. And within it, a monstrous sight.

Her upper body protruded from the surface. Long, dark hair was slick against her blued skin, and her eyes studied me with reptilian stillness. Not even the water rippled. For she was not an intrusion, no—she was received into the element as though she was a part of it.

“Did you… do this to me?” My voice was not my own. It creaked like the floorboards of an old house; dust had settled there, and my throat held cobwebs.

She slithered out of the water. She grabbed my face with both of her webbed hands, looming over me as she stood, somewhat upright, like a snake on its haunches, propped upward with her thick tail. Her touch was cold but not unwelcome. She cried in a language I did not yet understand.

But it was one of loneliness. It was a pain that spanned centuries. It echoed in the cavern, one haunted by ghosts I did not know. Because a mermaid cannot cry. Instead, the sadness festers within them, releasing only in their melancholy song.

I placed my hand over hers. She led me to the water, smiling; her mouth was no longer a thicket of fangs, but one of friendliness. I realized now that she was smiling at me, even back then. Reassuring me.

As I eased into the shallow pool—a portal of sorts—her fingers interlocked with mine.

Shed your previous life, she seemed to urge. Become a part of mine.

And I did.

Leaning into her arms, the coldness of her body was in sharp contrast to my flush. I shivered as her claw tips raked my skin, black and stained as though with blood—and yet, due to some inextricable feeling I cannot convey, I trusted them completely. And each stroke of her claws ripped off skin after successive skin, revealing beneath a nascent patina of shining scales.

They were iridescent, beautiful. My skin had been but a mollusk, an ugly, hard thing, and now my body was sheathed in pearly splendor. Beneath the soft glow of the cavern moss, luminous and magical, and her expectant gaze, I was more whole than I had ever been on land.

The skin I shed, she gathered it; she held it out to me, expectant. As if on instinct—or, perhaps, our souls had become linked with a supernatural closeness I had yet to understand, I knew what she wanted from me. I participated in a sort of cannibalism, the eating of self. I was, in that instance, a watery Ouroboros.

Her lips touched mine, warmer than I could’ve imagined; I responded in kind, with more passion than I knew I could hold. 

And away, we swam.

Reagan Brady is an 18 y.o. English major. She likes writing in coffee shops, petting cats, taking naps, and watching cartoons. Ever since a young age, she has been writing!

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