the Little Mermaid submits to horrific pain purely to conform to an alien and incomprehensible ideal of beauty. You don’t have to be Naomi Wolf to have issues with this. (p21)
and continues into our careers as manifest in this interview of Eve Ensler by Decca Aitkenhead (or was it the other way round) in the Guardian magazine a few months ago:
for as long as I can remember, my body just seemed like a troublesome inconvenience, the least important thing I could think of (DA)
I had a tumour the size of a mango and I didn’t even notice. And you know what, where are we going with all that fancy head stuff? We’re achieving and doing, but where the fuck are we going? … I am now have the happiest I have been in my life. Profoundly. I’m working from a different engine now. (EE)
Fiction gives me an outlet to explore my fascination with our confused and confusing relationships with our bodies, including a couple that focus on the transformations that take place in adolescence: a longer short, Jessica’s Navel, and the flash fiction piece, In Praise of Female Parts (warning – it does what it says on the tin). But this is my first attempt at micro-fiction:
He woke with the sun and staggered to his feet. He felt clumsy, heavy head and throbbing forehead echoing the antics of the night before. The music. The dancing. The drugs.
He tried to join his siblings, but they showed him their backs. He trotted towards his mother, but his aunts barred his way.
Thirst raging in his throat, he cantered to the pool. Bending to drink, he caught his reflection: hooves; fetlocks; knees; chest; muzzle. Yet no longer a horse: projecting from his forehead, a huge horn spiralled to a point. He’d be living as a unicorn now.
If you’ve been following the weekly flash-fiction challenge from Charli Mills, you probably guessed where this one was going. This week’s prompt was to write a 99-word story that includes a fantastical element or creature but my imagination started ticking over as soon as I saw her doctored photo of her horse. I was thinking more allegory than fantasy – if there’s a difference – and the various cultural rituals that mark the transition from childhood to adult, another of my favourite fictional themes. Do let me know whether it works for you.
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