She’d heard the story as a child,
or maybe read it
or seen one of the many variations.
The mermaid, longing to walk on land for the sake of love,
made a bargain to trade a voice for feet.

The stories were slightly wrong.
It was never just one mermaid who made that bargain,
and the sorceress who offered it grew wealthy
on her collection of sirenic voices.
She, too, paid a price: her own voice was forever grating to her ears.
The sweet voices she took in trade were a constant reminder
of that which she could have, but not do.
Her own voice was smoke and whiskey, made for jazz,
not the crystalline tones claimed for angels.
But we are not speaking of her.

Many mermaids made the bargain.
Many, so many, walked on land.
Some died quickly, turned to sea foam.
Some found love, made families,
bore children, and tried to forget.

Now there are many who walk the land
who never lived beneath the waves
but their blood remembers.
Fairy is not lost to us.
It is within us.
And so, perhaps, it is best
that the sorceress did not have a mer-child
who could have been tempted by the bargain.

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