And in our daughters We Find a Voice

A short story

Published by Dark Magazine

My prince kills my sisters before they can come to me, their deaths my bride price, the payment for an unwanted humanity. His fishing ships and his harpooners drive them into the rocks and the salt-whetted cliffs, into the maw of the coral. They chase them with nets and explosives purchased at great expense from China, until there is nowhere for my siblings to go but up, up into the searing blue air.

My sisters die voiceless in a froth of red foam, gasping mouths and gaping eyes, no different from common fish.

Then, when all the life has been bled away, when all is still and silent, and there are only coils of drifting entrails, the ships lower men into the water to retrieve the bodies. The youngest are processed quickly; deveined, deboned, skins removed and crusted with salt and spice before they’re left to dry under the sun; the meat carefully separated and stored in chests dripping with ice. The oldest they preserve with formaldehyde and meticulous stitching, with pins and steel rods and hooks no wider than a strand of hair, anything that can allow them to pretend that this was a crusade, not a slaughter.

Their trickery succeeds. The kingdom celebrates and my prince, he devours my littlest sister at his soothsayer’s behest, marinating her first in cumin and cilantro. She was barely more than a fry, too young to emulate his idea of human. In a few months, that would have changed. Her skull would have flattened and grown sleek with long, silvery hair. She would have been beautiful, perhaps even beautiful enough to have taken my place.

“I saved you,” my prince says as he picks the soft meat from her spine.

The ocean is not like the territories of man.

My father sends no armies in retaliation. My mother does not poison the seas with her grief. The fish do not mourn. Even the wind is silent, indifferent. Ten sisters are nothing, less than nothing.

I say nothing, look down, pick through the kelp heaped on my plate, try not to think about the first time I saw my sister, peering from between my father’s teeth, freshly hatched and clumsy, still viscous from the egg.

Read the full story at The Dark Magazine