A Gift of Life and Death

An essay by Mira Delmer, as provided by Caroline von Schmalensee
Art by Leigh Legler

Last night, everything changed. I’d got to the bit where I tell Roland about how I met his father when, out of the deep blue, he said, “But Kraken’s a myth. He’s not real.”

He’s six–it could have happened at any time. I knew one day he’d start to question my stories. There’s no room for Kraken on land; humans don’t believe in such creatures.

My face went cold and tingly, my eyes filled with tears. “He was mythic, alright,” I said, voice too deep in my throat, “but not how you think. No one has caught him on camera, sweetling, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t exist. Mm. Mythic. That’s the word.”

I went on with the story, but Roland wasn’t really listening, and I sank into a sea of memories, quietly mourning the boy he had been and the telling of our tale. I had lost my son to a world I have no place in. “He doesn’t exist”–what a thing to say about your father. The implication is clear: I, as I was when we met, didn’t exist either. I’m a liar.

When Roland was younger, he stuck to the script that proved we belonged not to the world outside, but to each other.

“So how did you meet my father?” he would ask.

No, that’s not where the tale starts. It goes like this:

“Once upon a time,” I’d begin, “there was a mermaid who lived in the deep, deep sea. That was me.”

Art for "A Gift of Life and Death"

It’s transparent and cool to the touch. Underneath the surface, four chambers show, each opening out into a tube on the surface. It’s a heart. I’ve told Roland it’s the heart of a sea-serpent, a ferocious foe.

To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Spring 2017 collection.

Six years ago, Mira Delmer was banished from the Oyster Court by her father for marrying Kraken. Since her exile, she’s been building a home for herself and her son, Roland, on land. Mira has difficulty fitting into human society but does her best to ensure Roland will grow up a happy, normal boy. She’s currently exploring employment opportunities as a professional story teller.

Caroline von Schmalensee lives in Edinburgh, Scotland. A technical writer by day, she writes fiction in her free time. Caroline writes urban fantasy and makes forays into fairytale and horror. Her short stories can be found in New Writing Scotland, The Seven Wonders of Scotland, The Scotsman, FREAKCircus, and online. She’s working on her first novel.

Caroline writes about writing at carolinevonschmalensee.com.

Leigh’s professional title is “illustrator,” but that’s just a nice word for “monster-maker,” in this case. More information about them can be found at http://leighlegler.carbonmade.com/.

“A Gift of Life and Death” is © 2017 Caroline von Schmalensee
Art accompanying story is © 2017 Leigh Legler

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