<html> <img src="images/U2UWu1i.gif"> </html> \n\nAs you get closer, the ground below you becomes rough again. Rocks and branches cover the path as you stumble towards the shining light. Thorns and twigs scrape against your ivory legs. The path disappears behind you and you make your way up a slope to a [[tavern]]. There is commotion inside.\n\n<html> <img src="images/U2UWu1i.gif"> </html>
<html> <img src="images/i0kG3zG.gif"> </html> \n\nEntering the river you are cleaned. \n\nYour tender skin shines once more like a white stone in the rain and without looking back [[you swim again]]. \n\n<html> <img src="images/i0kG3zG.gif"> </html>
<html> <img src="images/6jBbWIS.gif"> </html> \n\nYou swim towards [[emptiness]].\n\n<html> <img src="images/6jBbWIS.gif"> </html>
<html> <img src="images/JfsKKJ0.gif"> </html> \n\nYour bony, webbed fingers caress the long legs below you. There is warm softness now where there were once iridescent scales. The tail you used to navigate the waters of the Atlantic is gone. It is split into two legs covered in alabaster skin. For the first time since opening your eyes you take a breath... a [[gasp]].\n\n<html> <img src="images/JfsKKJ0.gif"> </html> \n
<html> <img src="images/P1pDd53.gif"> </html> \n\nYou push open the heavy door and walk in. The commotion takes a pause to look in disbelief at you. The air is thick with smoke but it is not the appetizing smell from before on the river bank. This is pipe tobacco, still water and the stench of cheap swill on the breath of [[sailors]]. \n\n<html> <img src="images/P1pDd53.gif"> </html>
<html> <img src="images/fljydnG.gif"> </html> \n\nYou taste the familiar mineral brine of fresh oysters. The brackish and sweet taste of red seaweed. You smell the slightly salty air. There are new tastes and smells too.\n\nYou inhale a faintly smoky breath of a camp fire up river bank from a few miles away. The warm and appetizing smell of roasted meat and vegetables from the earth wafts over to you. Something stirs in you -- a hunger -- a [[curiosity]]. \n\n<html> <img src="images/fljydnG.gif"> </html> \n\n
Lauren Vee
<html> <img src="images/UtuKAiu.gif"> </html> \n\nYour bosom weighs against your body instead of floating in front of you. The sun light catches in the drops of water on your golden breasts. You stretch out our twin arms, made of white topaz and admire them glistening. \n\nYou pull your legs up to your chest. [[Legs?]]\n\n<html> <img src="images/UtuKAiu.gif"> </html>
<html> <img src="images/EAelaHm.gif"> </html> \n\nThe path to the flickering light disappears behind you again as your make your way to the rocky shore, feeling the sand and seashells [[under your feet once more]]. \n\n<html> <img src="images/EAelaHm.gif"> </html>
Fable of the Mermaid and the Drunks
<html> <img src="images/dwyX3Tu.gif"> </html> \n\nFeeling the rough, sandy bottom of the river bank against your back you open your eyes. The water is cool and comfortable around you. Your copper hair floats around you like silk. Your pull your torso up out of the water and your bare skin gleams in the [[sunlight]]. \n\n<html> <img src="images/dwyX3Tu.gif"> </html>
<html> <img src="images/IRj87Or.gif"> </html> \n\nThe soft earth under your feet now is a comfort to you, but the fading smell of the water gives you pause. You see a flickering, golden light in the distance. Like a siren song it calls out to you. Entranced, you [[go to it]].\n\n<html> <img src="images/IRj87Or.gif"> </html>
<html> <img src="images/1ia07hf.gif"> </html> \n\nObscenities drowned your [[golden breasts.]]\n\n<html> <img src="images/1ia07hf.gif"> </html>
<html> <img src="images/7ESpwm2.gif"> </html> \n\nYou do not speak because you have no speech. You look on them with eyes as blue as the color of your distant love. Your coral lips move only to take in [[another breath]].\n\n<html> <img src="images/7ESpwm2.gif"> </html> \n
<html> <img src="images/4vwqZEl.gif"> </html> \n\nYou make your way out of the familiar water first on your hands and knees, finding your way, finally, to a clumsy walk. The rocks of the shore are harsh on your tender new feet. The sun starts to set into the distant earth and civil twilight turns the world blue like the waters you came from. You find a dirt [[path cleared through the trees]]. \n\n<html> <img src="images/4vwqZEl.gif"> </html> \n
<html> <img src="images/tr5Hczn.gif"> </html> \n\nStumbling back to the door you draw a sharp breath and then another and another until you are on the other side of it. The commotion carries on inside. But you, you make you way back through the woods, faster and faster, [[cutting your feet the whole way]]. \n\n<html> <img src="images/tr5Hczn.gif"> </html>
<html> <img src="images/RY9eoBm.gif"> </html> \n\nYou are no longer the sirena you once were. Your lungs expand and fill with salty, humid air. With each breath you draw in you can taste something new and different from this unknown world. Some tastes [[you can identify]] some you cannot. \n\n<html> <img src="images/RY9eoBm.gif"> </html>
<html> <img src="images/t3bIxMY.gif"> </html> \n\nEvery pair of eyes turned to your naked body and at first their was silence but then their jaws wagged and the insults flowed down your [[gleaming flesh.]] \n\n<html> <img src="images/t3bIxMY.gif"> </html>
<html> <img src="images/SDdUZXO.gif"> </html> \n\nYou swim towards death.\n\n<html> <img src="images/SDdUZXO.gif"> </html>
<html> <img src="images/XhcjMWH.gif"> </html> \n\nNot knowing tears, you do not weep tears.\nNot knowing clothes, you do not have [[clothes]].\n\n<html> <img src="images/XhcjMWH.gif"> </html>
<html> <img src="images/0iPWW1j.gif"> </html> \n\nTheir hands reach out at you. They blacken you with burnt corks and cigarette stubs and they roll around [[laughing on the tavern floor]].\n\n<html> <img src="images/0iPWW1j.gif"> </html>