Miss Ursula finished writing the prescription, set down her pen, and looked up at the last girl—a fragile imp of a thing, who had fallen asleep curled beneath a covered mirror, tucked among the towering stacks of books and paper.
I’ve finished writing the cure, Miss Ursula awoke her softly.
May I look it over first?
Miss Ursula handed the last girl her prescription, confident that it was her best work yet. But as she read, the last girl’s eyes grew wider and wider. The wider they grew, the more Miss Ursula worried she had not found the cure for the girl’s fear but perhaps fabricated additional fears. A medical nightmare. At last the girl set down the final inked page.
I’m sorry, Miss Ursula, but I can’t accept this cure.
Why not? It cures both your fear and desire.
But I don’t understand why
the innocent sailors drown?
the mermaid is cured through the deaths of others?
she must mutilate herself to overcome fear and desire?
Because sometimes revenge is the only cure.
Some claim there was a wicked glimmer in Miss Ursula’s eyes, but there is no way for us to know. The magistrate discovered the last girl afloat in the claw-footed tub, a sharp needle sunk to the bottom, her legs bloody and mangled.
Lauren Spinabelli is finishing up her MA in creative writing at Pennsylvania State University. Her work has been published in Mud Season Review, Elite Daily, and Bop Dead City.