The Little Mermaid took the knife and ran to the prince’s bedroom. She loved him. But if she couldn’t have him, she didn’t want another woman to have him, either. She plunged the knife into his heart, put it in his new wife’s hand and wet her feet with his blood. They stopped hurting. She flung herself out the window and into the sea, watching her legs turn into a fishtail again.
Despite the transformation, the Little Mermaid wasn’t herself anymore. She spent her days rubbing away an invisible stain on her tail, voicelessly complaining about her ever bloody feet.
The queue moves slower than a snail. The youngster in front of me fidgets and jumps from one foot to the other and I’d like to tell him something about respecting my personal space but one doesn’t make a fuss at the post office.
The queue shuffles forward. The youngster takes a half-step back and steps on my foot. ‘Sorry,’ I mumble. He doesn’t even turn around to apologise. It’s disgraceful. When the queue moves again, I wait, painfully aware of the glaring that goes on behind my back.
I turn and mumble sorry. There are understanding nods. The relief.
‘You know what the problem is? All these easy recipes people can access on their phones in the supermarket. I’ve seen them wander around the aisles hunting for ingredients. And then they go home and cook. From scratch. Is it any surprise the sales figures aren’t where they should be? No, indeed it is not. We have to make those recipes disappear. Then people will wander around aimlessly looking for easy dinner options. We need to create a void to fill.
So, what will it take to make the recipes go away? How big a donation will do the trick?’
Some realise a moment before their muscles relax. He’s learnt to recognise that spark. He talks to them, explains his vision and that he’ll conserve their youth forever. If there’s time – some lose consciousness quicker than others – he’ll show them what dress he’s picked. He has impeccable taste. If they could, they would thank him.
He has slowed down. Staying off the police radar has become harder, and he’s running out of room. But sometimes, it would be a crime to stand by while a new tenant’s beauty withers away.
This one will take pride of place in his collection.