• Britt Leigh

The Inconvenient Truth about The Little Mermaid

We've all heard the fairytale ending to Ariel's mystical story of love and enchantment. Unfortunately, however, that's not where the story ends.


The chrysanthemum petals floated effortlessly to the soft sand beneath her. Their vibrant orange hues glowed eerily through the rays of the mid-day sun. Amongst the shells and stones, the petals looked like just another treasure claimed by the ocean’s tides.


“He loves me,” Ariel smiled as she plucked another petal from its crooked stem.

“He loves me not,” she pouted. She tore the petal in half and flung it across her chamber.


She stared back at her lifeless chrysanthemum. Only one waterlogged petal remained.


“He loves me!” she cried.


She threw herself against her rocky couch in dramatic fashion, tossing her arms above her head like the models she’d seen in the portraits that sank with their ships.


“Ugh, Ariel, please tell me you aren’t talking about that feckless twit, Eric,” Aquata scoffed from the shadows of Ariel’s chamber door.


“Watch yourself, Aquata, she might blab to daddy that you’re being cruel to her again,” Attina said.


Their scornful laughter rippled out of their mouths and echoed through Ariel’s chamber. If this were any other day, Ariel would have swum straight past her sisters and left them spinning at the door, but today she was not to be outdone.


“It’s a shame you’re naturally such a puke stain shade of green. It really isn’t your color,” Ariel said. “Nevertheless, I care little for what you think today.”


Ariel softly hummed a romantic melody to herself as she gently twisted the chrysanthemum stem in her fingertips.


“You can’t be serious,” Attina said. “You actually think he loves you?”

“He fell in love with me while I was human!” Ariel protested.


Aquata swam briskly into Ariel’s chambers, knocking a thingamabob to the floor.


“How quickly you forget that you sang to him long before the sea witch made you human,” Aquata said. “Face it, Ariel, that poor excuse of a man is in love with your voice. Nothing else.”


“Enough,” Triton bellowed from the doorway. “Ariel, what are you doing here? All of your wedding guests; they’ll notice you’re gone.”


“Hi, daddy,” Ariel sang. “I know. I’m going right back up in a second. I just wanted to ask you a quick question.”


“She’s in love with the prince,” Aquata interjected.


“What do you mean she’s in love with the prince? Ariel?” Triton boomed.


“Daddy, hear me out,” Ariel said firmly. “I have never asked for anything, but I’m asking now. I’d like him to join our-”


“Ariel, we have finally defeated the sea witch and her school of hoodlum spawns. I have consumed all of her power. The ocean is ours now, and you’d dare risk that for some HUMAN?” Triton asked.


“I’m not finished,” Ariel remained calm. Triton’s anger never lasted more than a few seconds in her presence. “What if he wasn’t human?”


“What do you mean?” Triton paused. Ariel was a lot of things, but cunning was her proudest attribute. Perhaps, he thought, she has an idea worthy of her request.


“You could use your trident to turn him into one of us. He has more knowledge of humans and sailors than anyone we’ve ever encountered. Think about it, daddy,” Ariel cooed.


Triton stared in silence at the whozits and whatzits that decorated Ariel’s walls, all of which came from the human world. She did have a point.


“You’re not seriously considering this, daddy, are you?” Aquata hissed.


“Silence, Aquata. I’ve had enough of your lip today,” Triton pointed his trident at his oldest and watched as her lips sealed shut. “You understand he will need to consent to this, don’t you?”


“Oh, daddy! Yes, yes! Of course, he will! He loves me. I know he will!” Ariel swirled around her father, planting a light kiss on his forehead.


Triton giggled. “Now, get back to the surface and enjoy your wedding. Your sisters and I will finish preparing for the feast.”

Ariel raced to the surface and dove onto the ship’s deck, her father’s magic melting her natural form into a pair of long legs.


“Ariel!” Eric said. “Where did you come from? I’ve been looking everywhere for you!”


“We haven’t got much time,” Ariel panted, wrapping her arms around her new husband. “I’ve got so much to tell you, but right now, all you need to know is that I have to return to the ocean, and I want you to come with me!”


“Join you in the ocean?” Eric stepped back, releasing his grasp on his wife. “What do you mean? I can’t just leave my family.”


“You were okay with me doing it just a few hours ago,” Ariel retorted.


“Yes, but I’m a prince, Ariel. I have responsibilities,” Eric shook his head. “I thought meeting you was serendipity. I thought I had finally found my queen.”


“You did! We can still be together, just in the ocean,” Ariel tried again.


“In the ocean? And do what all day? Swim around aimlessly? I was rescuing you from your fate. You’re the last of seven, Ariel. I’ll never be a king in your father’s kingdom.”


Ariel’s rage boiled in her veins. Her legs melted into a single, black fin as a series of needlepoint spikes lined her spine.


“What the hell? What’s going on?” Eric gasped.


He tried to run, but Ariel’s sickly sweet voice filled the air. Its seductive aroma drifted into Eric’s nose and mouth, stopping him before he could move another inch. Ariel’s voice floated past Eric and into the grand ballroom of the ship, placing each guest into a seductive trance.


“It is time,” Triton announced as Ariel’s voice sank into the murky waters beneath the ship.

“Maybe it was I who was trying to rescue you,” Ariel sang. “But you made your choice. Perhaps this is an altered sense of serendipity.”


“Ariel!” Triton shouted. “Shall we begin?”


“What are they doing here?” Eric asked.


Ariel’s voice continued to enchant her guests, informing her father that the ceremony was indeed ready to begin. Triton thrust his trident into the keel of the ship, setting it ablaze.


“They’re here for dinner,” the siren smiled, grabbing Eric by the collar of his tuxedo and pulling him into the depths of the sea.


Photo: Sergei Tokmakov

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