Well Dressed, Well Read: Timothy Schaffert’s “The Mermaid in the Tree”

After the parade ended, Desiree waited until nightfall to head off to meet Axel at the pier. She changed from her costume into a cocktail dress Miranda had sewn for her from the slick, midnight-blue kimono she’d stolen from the wardrobe of the warden of Rothgutt’s. A gold tassel hung from the end of each short sleeve, and the sateen fabric was patterned with open parasols and butterflies. Miranda had Desiree kiss the end of a lipstick so that her lips were only just barely touched with red, all of it lost on the paper of her cigarette as she smoked on her walk across the beach. The shadowed, haphazard edges of the wreckage of the pier ahead of her were black agains the sky, the Ferris wheel like a slipped cog, it having rolled from its axis and partly into the sea.

-from “The Mermaid in the Tree” by Timothy Schaffert in My Mother, She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty new Fairy Tales ed. Kate Bernheimer (2010).

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