Short Story (Dark Fantasy) Inspired by The Little Mermaid

This short story was originally published in the online fairy tale magazine, Enchanted Conversation . It is included in my fairy tale inspired paranormal short story collection: Supernatural Fairy Tales.

His Soul Inspiration
by Dorlana Vann

“Have you read this?” My husband, Philip, held the book of fairy tales I had bought from a used bookstore for my niece’s ninth birthday.

“Well, not that one, but I’ve read fairy tales before,” I said as I shut the door and stepped out of my heels.

He shook the hardback of nearly 500 pages. “Not like these.”

“Yeah, sure I have. ‘The Ugly duckling,’ ‘The Emperor’s New Suit,’ ‘The Little Mermaid’…”

“Right-right-right. These are them, but not like the ones I’m sure you’re thinking of. They’re not all fairy princesses and happy endings. They’re darker, full of hardship and pain and broken hearts.”

“All right,” I said. His excitement confused me because it didn’t match what I thought he was saying. “Do you think I should take it back and get Emily something else?”

“No. I mean, yes, you should get Emily something else. But no, don’t take this back.”

I scratched my head. “Are you okay?”

“I’m more than okay—I’m terrific!” He set the book down on the couch, wrapped his arms around me, and twirled us around. As he put me down, an amused smirk transformed into a wide smile and huge eyes. “The Little Mermaid!” he exclaimed.

Philip had been having a rough year, trying to find his inspiration to paint. This sudden strangeness made me queasy, and I was a little surprised that he had cracked before I had. Not that I didn’t respect his work, goals, and dreams, it’s just that I had some of my own. And working two jobs to support a starving artist had never been my plan.

 He had picked up the book again and was flipping through it when I decided to go run a bubble bath.

 “Syrena, here it is. I want to read this to you right fast.”

 “I’m really tired. I just want to go soak in the tub.”

“Please…. This is it. This is what I need to get me out of this slump. Please, just listen and see.”

 I sighed as softly as I could manage and took my place beside him on the couch. He began to read: “The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson… Far out in the ocean, where the water is as blue as the prettiest cornflower, and as clear as crystal, it is very, very deep…”

“Well, it’s definitely different than the Disney version,” I said after he had finished reading the tale. “I didn’t realize it was so sad.”

“Anything else?” He asked slowly.

I shook my head and shrugged.

“Her skin was as clear and delicate as a rose-leaf, and her eyes as blue as the deepest sea,” he quoted. “And she wrapped herself in her long, thick hair.”

“I’m sorry, Philip. I’m tired. I’m not getting what you’re getting at. Just tell me.”

“It’s you! You have to be my model.” His eyes sparkled, and he looked so happy, happier than I had seen him in a long time. I even felt a tinge of exhilaration myself. It had been awhile since he had asked me to model for him.

 “Okay.” I smiled. “Mermaids are topless, right?”

 He danced his eyebrows up and down. “You betcha.”

 “It sounds like fun. Saturday morning, I’m all yours.”

 “No, no, no. Now.” He stood up and held his hand out to me.

 “Now?” I whined.

 “I can’t take the chance of losing this, this feeling.”

 After a few seconds of staring into his imploring but loving eyes, I agreed by taking his hand and letting him lead me to the studio/guest room/home office. A few of his paintings hung on the walls: abstracts from his college years, pencil drawings sketched when we were on vacation at the beach, and one of me when we first met. The evening really made me think of that time, when he was so vigorous and full of dreams. When his passion oozed from his fingertips, and he saw the world differently than anybody I had ever met before; he noticed colors before shapes and talked in hues and aura, like others talked current events.

 It didn’t take him long to put me in position: on the floor leaning on my elbow, legs out beside me, and my hair down and draped over the front of me like a mermaid’s. I knew he was in his zone, no longer seeing me, but seeing through me and to my spirit.

“Beautiful.” He took his place behind the easel and white canvas.

Unable to see his face, only his arm as it gently followed the hand holding the paint brush, I knew not to talk, not to disturb him as he created the new, improved me. However, after what felt like hours, my mouth began to dry. I needed water. Surely, he would understand that I needed a little break—I opened my mouth to tell him, but my tongue was completely limp, and I couldn’t even swallow. The silly words from the story came to mind: “Then she cut off the mermaid’s tongue, so that she became dumb, and would never again speak or sing.”

 Trying to laugh at the thought, I felt a strange pinch in the middle of my stomach. An involuntary grunt finally came from my throat, and when I realized I could make this sound, I tried to get Philip’s attention, but he didn’t hear me—too focused in his work.

 I squeezed my eyes open and shut, trying to clear the buzzing that had begun in my head. And then I saw it…. waves of color beamed from me to Philip’s swooping arm. At first I thought it was the result of the light bulbs and my blinking, but it didn’t go away. It was dark outside, so there was no sun playing with the window’s glass. These streams of gold and red and blue were coming from me.

Suddenly, I felt a sharp pain run up my arm, and it couldn’t hold me up any longer. I collapsed. “…and it seemed as if a two-edged sword went through her delicate body: she fell into a swoon, and lay like one dead…” I thought Philip would soon look at me and tell me to sit up—but minutes passed, and he never glanced away from the canvas. The pain moved down to my legs and so did the beams of colorful light. “…she felt as if treading upon the points of needles or sharp knives.”

 As I grew weaker, my confusion faded. It became clear that if I didn’t get Philip’s attention, I would die, which promptly turned into: if I don’t stop Philip, I will die. “Haste, then; he or you must die before sunrise.”

 I pushed my torso up with wobbly arms, every muscle burning. I couldn’t feel my legs at all. “She has given us a knife: here it is, see it is very sharp. Before the sun rises you must plunge it into the heart of the prince; when the warm blood falls upon your feet… return to us to live.” I remembered the scissors on my desk behind me. I loudly grunted as I reached and grabbed them, dropping immediately back down. I lay there, time passing until I was able to pull myself by plunging the scissors into the carpet and using them as a means to move across the floor.

 With each breath, my lungs tightened as if the air itself was poison. I coughed and gagged, but still Philip did not stir. Finally, I lay beside him at his easel, taking a moment to gather some strength. The hand that held the scissors ached and so did my heart at the thought of what I had to do to survive. I used the rest of my might to pull myself up, leaning on my left hand, and brought the weapon behind my head with my right.

 When I shifted my view, the painting came into focus. It was complete, save for the sun. Philip dipped his brush into the yellow and orange mixture, and I examined The Little Mermaid, letting the scissors fall behind me as I marveled at her beauty. She was alive. This painting was Philip’s dream, his life’s work… his masterpiece.

 Easing the brush away from the bright sun, Philip whispered, “Finished,” as I fell into soft darkness…

 “…and then mounted with the other children of the air to a rosy cloud that floated through the aether.”

 

The End

 

Supernatural Fairy Tales

Supernatural Fairy Tales by Dorlana Vann

 

His Soul Inspiration is one of the stories from my fairy tale inspired paranormal short story collection: Supernatural Fairy Tales. .99 cent eBook available at Amazon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tex-Mex Turkey Street Tacos (Food from “The Trouble with Scarecrows”)

I love tacos, and since I was born, raised, and stayed in Texas, I’ve had access to a huge variety of different kinds, but the ones from my childhood are the most memorable.

Growing up, my parents made taco meat from ground beef and a packaged spice mix. Taco night was always served family-style with all the toppings on the table and soft corn tortillas to wrap them up. I cooked tacos using my family’s method for a long time, and it wasn’t until I stopped eating beef –over ten years ago– that I started experimenting with recipes using ground turkey. (There was no way I was going to give up taco night.)

The inspiration for my Turkey Street Tacos is a combination of wanting a taco that was similar to the one from my childhood, Mexican restaurant’s beef tacos (especially Pappasito’s Cantina), and searching for fresher & healthier food alternatives for my family.

When my main character, Texan Neal Parker, (The Trouble with Scarecrows) needed to prepare a Tex-Mex meal, I thought it would be fun to have him make my tacos. Below is more or less the recipe that I used in the novel. And if you fix’em, I’d love to know how they turn out.

Love and Laughter (and yummy tacos),

Dorlana

 

Tex-Mex Turkey Street Tacos

Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 20 minutes

 Turkey Tacos3 Tbsps. Olive Oil

¼ cup diced Red Onions

¼ cup diced White Onions

½ cup Cilantro Leaves, roughly chopped (divided into two ¼ cup portions)

½ of a Bell Pepper, chopped

1 lb. lean Ground Turkey Breast (but not ultra-lean)

1 large Lemon, outside washed, cut in half

2 Tbsps. Butter, plus more to butter tortilla shells

A dozen Soft Corn Tortilla Shells

Spices:

2 tsp Cumin

1 tsp Salt

½ tsp Cayenne pepper

½ tsp Paprika

½ tsp Ground Chipotle Pepper

Heat olive oil in a stainless steel pan for 15 seconds and then add red onions, white onions, half of the cilantro leaves, bell pepper, ground turkey, and all of the spices. Cook over med-high to high heat (adjusting to your stove), stirring frequently to break up the meat and to get all the ingredients mixed together. If it starts to stick, add a little more olive oil.

When the meat is about half-way browned, add the juice from ½ the lemon. Continue stirring. (You don’t want to add the lemon juice too early or it will keep the meat from browning – but you want to add it soon enough to where it will get distributed all through the ground turkey. I find that ground turkey really needs an acid to enhance the flavor.)

When the turkey meat is completely cooked and the bottom of the pan starts to brown, add the butter, the rest of the cilantro, and the juice from the other half of the lemon. Stir, scrapping the bottom of the pan. Toss one of the squeezed lemon halves in there, seeds removed, and then cover. Turn the burner off, letting it sit until tortillas are ready. Before serving, remove lemon and stir.

While the meat is resting, lightly butter a dozen corn tortillas. Heat for 7 seconds on each side in a non-stick pan. Placed warmed shells on a paper towel lined plate – using a paper towel between every four tortillas.

 

Toppings:

Chunky Avocado Guacamole/Pico (recipe follows)

Sour cream

Shredded Sharp Cheddar (I really recommend you grate your own – it is so worth it)

 

Chunky Avocado Pico

(Make this before cooking the meat and store in the refrigerator – Just don’t forget to add the lime juice or it will look ugly.)

Prep time 15 minutes

 

avacodo pico2 small-medium diced Tomatoes

¼ cup Cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

¼ cup diced Red Onion

3 Avocados, cut into bite-sized pieces

Optional heat addition: 1/2 fresh Jalapeño – (seeds removed) diced

The juice from one large Lime

Salt to taste

Gently mix ingredients together, careful not to mash the avocados. Refrigerate until ready to use. (Best if used the same day.)

Pour the meat into a serving bowl. Place everything on the table and have a nice family-style dinner. Dig in. Oh wait, don’t forget the margaritas!

Drive – April’s Book and Movie Review

drive movie posterQuick Book/Movie Summary:

Novel (2006) – Author: James Sallis (Summary from Amazon) Drive is about a man who does stunt driving for movies by day and drives for criminals at night.

Movie (2011) – Screenwriter: Hossein Amini Director: Nicolas Winding Refn  (summary from imdb) A mysterious Hollywood stuntman and mechanic moonlights as a getaway driver and finds himself trouble when he helps out his neighbor.

Book/Movie Club Set Up:

Our group (women ages 23-47) pick a book that has been made into a movie. We read the book and then get together for thematic food, to discuss the book, and then to watch the movie.

On the menu:

Each of us are to bring either a drink, dessert and/or appetizer and it is fun to use the storydrive food for inspiration. Below is the spread for this month.

Food: Pepperoni pizza (delivered of course), pineapple alfredo pizza, chocolate cupcakes, brownies, roasted Brussels sprouts, chips and dip, parmesan wings.

Drinks: red wine, beer

Thoughts about the Book: It was unanimous – nobody liked it. It was confusing and disjointed. I got lost a few times, but didn’t bother to go back and find out what I missed. I just kept reading so I could get to the end.

The style of the book kind of reminded me of an indie-film, but the problem is, it’s a book not a movie, so it didn’t quite work without a solid plot.

Several of us did like the character Doc and his cat. Those few chapters kept my attention for some reason.

driveThoughts about the Movie:

Everyone liked the movie better than the book, which is becoming (surprisingly) more of the norm for our group.

I think the screenwriter did a great job of bringing all the disjointed elements of the book together and creating a cohesive storyline while maintaining the stylistic vibe of the book. He also made the main character, Driver, more relatable (and likeable) by changing his quick tempered disposition to an only-violent-when-extremely-motivated one.

Some of us liked the soundtrack and others didn’t think it actually went with the movie. There was a lot of staring, which at times became distracting, which became silly & comical.

The Girly Discussions:

We thought the book and the movie were targeted for a male audience – especially the movie – car chases and stunts, hands-over-the-eyes gross violence – At one point in the movie, someone said, “The only thing missing are boobs.” And guess what the next scene was, lol.

We also thought the elevator scene was very strange …

Interesting Discoveries:

It was called “arthouse action” by Rotten Tomatoes which gave it 92% on their TOMATOMETER – I can see that.

The Group’s Average ratings:

Book: 1 glasses of wine out of 5

Movie: 3 glasses of wine out of 5

The bottom line:

I can’t recommend the book because I didn’t care for it. However, it is completely different than anything I’ve ever read, and it did provide the background of the character for the movie.

The movie is worth watching – I liked the music and the style – just know that it is going to turn gross-violent without warning … no time to look away! “Ewww …”

Next month’s Book and Movie:

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (with a zombie garden party theme)

Love and Laughter,

Dorlana

And The Winner is …

Rebecca Alexander! Please email me at Dorlanasfairytales at gmail.com and let me know if you’d like me to gift you a Kindle copy of The “Trouble with Scarecrows” – or if you’d like a pdf. copy. Thank you!

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