Princesses: Where are they now? (Part four: The Little Mermaid) by Sarah Thomasin

Princesses: Where are they now?
(Part four: The Little Mermaid)

Ariel has now spent more of her time on land than she ever did as a mermaid. Even swimming with what her relatives see as her strange bifurcated tail hardly seems strange anymore. She does think of the speed and power she had as a mermaid. She can barely hold her breath more than a minute now, and her gills closed up long since. She knows her sisters still shake their heads and sigh over her – why would anyone choose a life like that? Choose to change their body, at such great risk? Especially anyone with the great good fortune to be born a princess of the sea! She can’t explain to them that she always knew where she belonged.

As queen, Ariel has made it her business to ensure her human subjects all know how to swim. She visits all the schools regularly to impress the basics of water safety on classes full of chattering children. Her own son, to his grandparents’ relief, takes after the leggy side of the family. (Although she was delighted to find, behind his little ears, tiny gill flaps.) Sebastian – named for a long dead friend – regularly swims down to visit his mother’s family. And though the mermaids laugh and tug his feet, he keeps on going back. Ariel knows the feeling of being in the wrong element. She’s ready to let Sebastian leave the land forever. But as the heir to the throne, she knows there’ll be a row with his father. She finds herself wondering if it’s not too late: another heir would solve the problem.

But oh! How she wishes she could still spawn like her mother had! Human pregnancy was not something she’d factored in. Mind you, for her husband, she’d still go through worse.

Sarah Thomasin is a performance poet living in Sheffield. As well as saying poems out loud at every opportunity, they have had poems published in Now Then magazine, and in two English Pen collections, three Pankhearst Slim Volume anthologies (No Love Lost, Wherever You Roam, and This Body I Live In), The Sheffield Anthology (poems from the city imagined) and Poems For the Queer Revolution. They were also commissioned to create a limerick quiz about gender which appears in Kate Bornstein’s My New Gender Workbook. You can find Sarah online at

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