The Mermaid. Another Juan Rodolfo Wilcock tale.


Other mermaids inhabit graceful underwater grottoes where the orange anemone, the red stars and the brown sea urchins turn the water even bluer and clearer while the piebald fish flaunt their tropical bird-like tails and their famed flanks of precious metals. She, though, is the only mermaid to live in this large oozy, muddy and slow moving river lodging herself under the blackish wreck of a sunken ship. A mass of rotten timber lodged into the mud amidst rusting boxes, bottles, slimy shoes and flat, repugnant fish with their eyes  at the back. The mermaid doesn’t even manage to keep her hair clean, she only has a broken, old, plastic comb that always gets entangled into some old filth, small pieces of card, orange peels, small ropes that the river drags here with its relentless indifference. So the mermaid is always dirty, dishevelled and every time that she ventures out on to the river bank to comb her hair and remove the crust of sticky mud from her scales, the children throw pots at her and the men make her obscene proposals and one Sunday a priest with three women dressed in black came to exorcise her, waving a cross in front of her. So she has decided not to show her face in public any more. Her main problem is that the chemical plant at the top of the river empties irritant discharges into the water every now and then. The mermaid now has a cough and the human half of her body is constantly itching. She should move downstream closer to the estuary but there the water is too sea like and her body doesn’t tolerate salt. Further up the river the current is too strong and she needs to swim all day simply to stay in the same place not resting even at night. No-one takes any notice of this lonely mermaid apart from an official at the town hall who, from time to time, shows up to lay claim to the payment of certain family taxes that she simply can not afford to pay. What with the fertilizer factory and the taxman, the river’s last mermaid gets very depressed and has twice attempted suicide with those tubes of barbiturates that are dragged down by the swollen river in the springtime.

About afoniya

I am a translator, language teacher, independent film scholar who is interested in many aspects of culture. I have my own blog on Russian and Soviet cinema at and I have also written for journals such as Film Philosophy and Bright Lights as well as Ribbed magazine. Outside of film my interest runs to language, politics, literature and my world is centred around the Meditteranean, Russia, Southern Ukraine as well as the UK.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s