Little Mermaid Ch. 05

Cease-fire was maybe too strong a word; they hadn’t been at war, really, had they? But there was peace anyway, kind of. They could talk and laugh. At times, Carl even asked things. There was no more pushing, no more unannounced entering, grabbing, kissing. Ariel wasn’t dragged to dubious parties anymore — not without being asked first. But there were always these eggshells lying around, forcing them to walk cautiously and to think twice before talking. Carl wasn’t home much, anyway, always rehearsing the play and things, Ariel guessed. She herself had found back to her time-honored escape route: studying. Then the play’s premiere day came along, and Ariel was invited. Carl surprised her by handing over a dress and begging her to wear it. It was thin, sky blue with a white flower print and it was long and slinky, a gown, really. It had a rather low front and no back at all.

“I can’t wear this, are you crazy?” she cried out, throwing it back. Carl caught the slithering fabric.

“But you have to,” she said. “It’s mandatory. Men must wear a suit, women evening dresses. And as you don’t have any dresses, I got you one. You won’t get in without it.” Ariel huffed.

“Then I won’t come at all,” she said. “Find someone else. Someone who can wear it, someone with hips and tits.” Carl grinned nervously, looking down at the dress.

“Big tits would fall out,” she said. “You’d look superhot in it, believe me, classy chic.” Ariel groaned, then she turned around and shut the door to her bedroom with a bang.

“Ah, fuck, Ari!” she heard Carl cry out, her voice muffled by the wood. Fuck indeed, she thought, feeling tears prick behind her eyes. She fell forward on her bed. Was it a complot? Was really everyone in on the joke? Nationwide? Time went by until she heard a rustling sound through the door. Fingers tapped on the panel.

“I’m off,” Carl said. “Wish me luck, party poop!” Ariel mumbled ‘luck’, raising her face off the moist pillow. She sat up, listening until she heard the front door closing. Pouring a glass of cold water in the kitchen, she saw the blue dress hanging from Carl’s bedroom door. It shimmered softly. It was beautiful. Below it stood a pair of sky-blue heels, rather high heels. She wanted to feel anger, wasn’t that what she was supposed to feel? It sure was what she was best at whenever people toyed with her like this. Damn, Carl, she thought as she put the glass down and walked over to the dress. You went really overboard just to fuck with me: buying a dress, even shoes. Imagine the time, the cost, and all this for a practical joke? Maybe she’d borrowed them? Maybe it was a costume from the theater. It felt new, though. Its fabric slithered through her fingers. It must look sexy as hell, moving and swaying on the right body. She sank her nose into the silk, inhaling. A face with a crooked smile flashed in her mind. She shook her head violently; this was all so cruel.

She let the fabric fall from her hands and went back to her room, sitting down to pour over her books.

Thoughts entered her mind as she tried to study; they had nothing to do with the words she couldn’t read anyway. The thoughts started with one little question: what if… What if the stupid girl really wanted her at the theater? The girl who gave her this room for peanuts. Wouldn’t it be beyond rude not to show up, just because she was too chicken to wear the dress? Why travel from one coast to the other if it’s just traveling from one lonesome room to another, from one schoolbook to another? She wasn’t stupid, was she? She had a brain, and it told her things. It told her she might as well go back home if this was what her life ended up being here. Why travel the world if you carry your prison with you? A scream of frustration echoed from the walls. Her brain was right, she knew. But it was only a brain, wasn’t it? And a brain isn’t worth much in an ugly body. People don’t care about brains. They make up their opinion of someone in the first few seconds they meet. Dressing up wouldn’t help, it would make it worse. They’d laugh their head off. Look! they would scream, pointing and hiccupping with laughter: the scrawny pig wears make up!

But what about Carl? She was ugly as hell herself, but she didn’t seem to mind, did she? Then again, she was a lesbian, easy for her to talk. Maybe that was why she was an actress? Wearing masks and things? Her mind went in circles that seemed to get tighter and tighter around questions like not and why not, solutions like now or never or god, why am I so afraid? I don’t even know these people, do I? She had to get out, break the chain. Wasn’t that why she came all the way over here? To be free? Disgusted, she pushed back her chair, making it screech on the floor.

The dress was still there, of course, hanging innocently from its hanger. Tauntingly. Tauntingly? Surprised by the word, Ariel stepped closer, her hands making the blue-and-white fabric slide off the hanger. She might try it on. Why not? There was nobody here, nobody to laugh. She didn’t have to go out in it, did she? She could wear it in her room. She had this thin white top with the scooped neck to wear under it, maybe? Might make it less ridiculous.

Standing in front of the tall mirror that had already been there when she arrived, she watched her pale body, only wearing white panties. It had been a while since she’d forced herself to look as closely as this; she didn’t see anything new. She could as well be a boy with those bony shoulders, no hips to speak off, spindly legs and nipples for tits. Just a boy, wasn’t she, except for those damn cow’s eyes and swollen lips on an obscenely wide mouth.

She slid the white top over her head. Then she shook her head and pulled it up and off again. Why cheat in her own room? She picked up the dress and let it tumble down her naked body, keeping her eyes shut. The feeling was incredible; the silk caressed her skin and caused her to shiver. It reminded her of a gray satin blouse, which reminded her of blue eyes under a blond shock of hair, strong hands, a kiss… Her eyes flew open. One second, two seconds of seeing herself in a mirror, and she closed them again, hurriedly, tightly. But the image didn’t go. The image of a deer in the headlights. The huge eyes of a grown-up child, all bones, disjointed, awkward. And yet… yet.

She opened her eyes again, forcing them to look at the creature in the mirror. She moved her hips left and right, making the dress flow and rustle. She turned halfway round, looking over her shoulder, watching her long bare back. Remembering all those fashion pictures in all those magazines, she placed a hand on her bony hip and pushed it out. She pouted, looking up from under her bangs. She raised her arm, putting a hand in her neck, shaking her hips, waiting for the familiar voice, the little nagging, sarcastic voice. It didn’t come. There was only a rush of blood pounding in her ears as she watched and watched the creature sway. Finally, she realized she’d arrived at a moment of decision, one she could no longer walk away from. She either had to take a step forward or backward. Either take the plunge or forever be a scared nobody, returning home and withering away.

Staring into the patient mirror, her eyes met with their huge, wide reflection while familiar panic churned at the back of her mind. She tried to find back to old techniques like putting things in perspective, stripping them of dramatic exaggeration. Decision time, really? Oh, come on, girl, be real. You can very well stay here and be content with your little, lonely place of comfort. So many girls do, don’t they? You’ve done it all the time.

But however hard Ariel tried, she couldn’t find back to the soothing voice to lull her into safe numbness. The swaying dress made her feel too… was there a word for it? Was there even a thought? Her eyes stung with tears, she felt them trickle over her cheeks. Goddammit! Goddammit!


The play had already begun when she at last arrived. She didn’t mind: the entrance hall was comfortably empty, except for a pimply student at the wardrobe. His eyes lit up when she took off her jacket and handed it over to him. She knew she blushed like crazy before hastily turning away from him, making her left heel scratch the floor. Feeling his eyes on her bare backside, she was glad to disappear into the dark theater, where she slipped into the last row.

Every step of the way to the theater, she’d fought her decision to come and wear the fucking dress. She remembered her gothic days, but compared to this, that had been just a masquerade, hadn’t it, something to hide behind? This was the naked truth; naked indeed. Before leaving, she’d nicked some make up from Carl’s room, doing her eyes and lips until she saw someone else; but she still felt exposed. Funny enough, the heels helped. They urged her to focus on her feet for sheer danger management. They also subdued her anguish by making her move in a way that felt alien enough to spark an arousing excitement. But still, she was relieved when she finally reached invisibility in the theater’s darkness.

The play went well, Carl was brilliant. People applauded spontaneously, laughing at the right moments and being dead quiet when emotions went deeper. For a short while even Ariel forgot her predicament, distracted by the lights, the actors and the developing story. When the final curtain fell, people rose to give a standing ovation to the bowing actors. The lights went on around Ariel and her panic rushed back in. She knew everybody could see her with her ugly body in this way too beautiful dress. But nobody looked, did they? All eyes were on the stage, where the director (what was his name again) invited the public to join the cast for a small after party in the theater’s lobby.

Soon, the theater hall was empty but for Ariel who stood alone in her backrow, strangled by the question what to do now? Stealing away was, of course, her primal reaction. She’d been courageous enough for today, hadn’t she? Facing all those people really wasn’t necessary. She could always come back later for her jacket. Then again, she would have to walk home only dressed in this fucking piece of nothing, wouldn’t she? Well, it would be dark by now, but that last thought created a whole new set of apprehensions. She left the hall and realized she didn’t have a choice even if she wanted to: there was no way out but via the lobby. She heard the sound of people chatting, glasses clanging. There was soft music; somebody was speeching. She closed her eyes and stepped into the lobby, opening them to see only the backs of people watching the speaker. Now! she thought, quick, nobody sees you, get out! But she didn’t move, and the moment passed.

“That you, Ariel?” She knew the girl’s face; she was in one of her classes. The girl obviously knew her name. There were more faces she recognized, boys too. Soon there was a circle of eyes looking her up and down, boys and men in suits, girls in pretty dresses. Hot flashes flew up her throat; without realizing it, her arms had crossed in front of her empty cleavage. “Didn’t you just love the play?” the girl went on, deadpanning as if nothing hilariously had come her way. What was her name? Annette or something, blond, glasses, petite, nice round tits, of course. A girl carrying a tray offered her bubbly wine. She grabbed the glass and downed half of it in one go.

“Yes,” she then answered, “it was great.” Another girl closed in.

“Aren’t you with Carl?” she asked. “She was amazing tonight, don’t you agree? And I love your dress, by the way. Real classy!” Ariel tried to find sarcasm in her face. She emptied her glass and looked around for another one. Wine, more wine.

“Yes,” she agreed, “she was great. As a matter of fact, I’m looking for her. Did you see her?” The girl shook her head.

“No,” she said. “But maybe she’s over there in the back, with the others.” Following the wave of the girl’s hand, Ariel only saw more clusters of people she’d have to get by. She grabbed another glass and excused herself. Meandering through the lobby, she succeeded at ignoring the people she passed, until her progress was blocked by a man in a light gray costume and a frilly dress shirt. She knew him, he was the actor/director she’d met at the rehearsals, what was his name? The one who had pushed her into a corner, making fun of her until Carl set him straight. Robert whatever.

“Carl’s girl!” he said, spreading both arms, a wide grin on his face. She mumbled something and tried to get past him. “Nice dress too…”

“I’m looking for Carl,” she said. “Do you know where she is?” She hated how high her voice sounded.

“Ah, yes!” he exclaimed, turning towards the people around him as if they were his audience. “The brilliant Carlotta! Wasn’t she a-ma-zing tonight?” People murmured in agreement. Someone laughed, increasing Ariel’s discomfort.

“Where is she?” she asked. The man, Robert whatever, raised his hands with theatrical helplessness.

“Who knows the ways of the stars?” he said. “Maybe she fled the heaps of praise bestowed on her, but that is not really like her, wouldn’t you agree? Oh my, you look lovely tonight!” Ariel felt a gush of healthy annoyance flash through her embarrassment. She took a step forward and stole past him.

“Or maybe she just had to go to the toilet. She’s still human, you know?” he called after her as she went into a corridor. A sign pointed to the women’s bathroom. There were only two girls there; she didn’t know them.

“Did you see Carl Anderson, the actress?” she asked. They didn’t, they said, shrugging. The corridor led backstage. It was like she’d seen in movies: narrow pass ways, all kinds of ropes, lights and set pieces, dusty and gloomy. Then she heard voices. Climbing a few steps, she realized she’d ended up in the wings of the stage itself. It was rather dark; the curtain was closed. The voices came from the other side. There were giggles and whispers; she saw silhouettes moving. Ariel felt she shouldn’t be there. It made her crouch behind a backdrop, but she still had to see, still needed to get closer.

“My god, you’re beautiful!” one of the voices exclaimed and Ariel knew she’d found Carl. Creeping closer, she saw the boney pale body of her roommate hugging the pinkish wealth of another girl she knew. Kimberly was her name of all names and she shared a few classes with her. Not that Kimberly knew the difference between Ariel and thin air. Finding her with Carl was confusing enough, as Carl’d never been stingy with her opinions of girls like Kimberly, ‘fat-ass stupid bimbos’ being among the mildest. Seeing Kimberly with Carl felt equally confusing; Ariel had only seen her hanging with jocks and other certified machos, never giving mere ugly ducklings like her and Carl the light of day. But now Carl had her face between her wide fluffy thighs as her hands worked her huge, meaty tits. So far for: oh, you’re so beautiful, Ari, I love you. Fucking liars. She’d been right again, fucking right again. Fuck, fuck… why did she always have to be right?


Her way out of the theater had been a hazy affair. Thank god, she’d found a back-exit avoiding the lobby and its gruesome obstacles. The air was fresh, but it didn’t much to cool her flashes of anger and frustration. She’d wanted to run, but her crazy heels condemned her to a wobbling kind of speed-walk. Lacking her jacket, she felt the wind blowing right through her flapping dress. All kinds of familiar self-blaming phrases tumbled through her mind. How could she have been so stupid, again? Hadn’t she learned by now? What to do, where to go? Could she ever again show her face anywhere?

Images flashed and circled: fat, pink tits bouncing, red curls spreading out over white thighs, fingers fingering, tongues licking, lips sucking. And sounds, of course: snickering, moaning, mocking. ‘You’re so beautiful!’ Ah, damn god, how stupid she’d been. Again. Again.

The evening had turned mercifully dark as she walked the sidewalks of campus, hugging her exposed body, hardly knowing where she went, but knowing where

she absolutely didn’t want to go. She shivered, avoiding the eyes of the few people she came across. Then there was music coming from the other side of the street. It poured out of a building where a small group of people stood outside, smoking, mostly men. Ah well, boys. She knew the building. It housed a fraternity, rather a posh one, as far as she knew. She stopped walking. She didn’t know why, but she stopped and watched the house and the boys. There were a few girls too, hanging with them, flirting she thought, and quite a bit tipsy.

“Hey beautiful, small world!” A hand touched her shoulder. Fuck, she knew that voice; not him again. Turning around, she saw Robert Whatever and two girls she remembered from the theater’s lobby. They wore gowns under fake fur coats, throats and ears and wrists sparkling with baubles. “Aren’t you getting cold?” She shivered and, oh my god no, he took off his coat to drape it over her shoulders. It felt warm and smelled of cologne. “Can’t have that, you’ll get sick,” he said in his oily-sweet voice. “Come on, let’s get inside.”

Inside, the music was deafening. It was hot and crowded, stinking of decennia of stale beer and frat boy sweat. The lights were low. There was no space to dance and no ways to communicate. So, what was left was drinking, yelling and pushing. Robert took back his coat and handed her a plastic glass of beer. Before she could finish it, there was another one, handed her by a complete stranger whose mouth was almost inside her ear. “Hey, did we meet?” he yelled.

Holding both glasses, she tried to escape his spittle, which made her bump into someone behind her who spilled beer on her bare back, which made her spill beer on the yelling man. Nobody seemed to mind. A third beer mostly ended down her chest, making the thin fabric stick to her skin, exposing a very visible nipple. She fucking had to get out. Maneuvering and stumbling and being stepped on, Ariel succeeded in getting herself entirely closed in by the crowd. A tall and wide shouldered blond guy seemed to come to the rescue, pushing and pulling at bodies until she had at least a few feet of space in front of her; space he however at once filled himself with his massive muscles. Handing her a beer, he yelled ‘did we meet?’ Ariel groaned and decided everything was out of her hands. She emptied the glass in three big gulps, accepting yet another one. The guy was like a wall, soon accompanied by two more walls, both fellow football players, no doubt. They must be very drunk already to keep interested in her, Ariel thought.

She felt the beers drowning her mind; an inane smile crept over her face. She didn’t understand one word, but she nodded and responded enthusiastically. A merciful buzz set in as the beers were alternated by little shots of a very potent nature. Her dress was soaked by then and she wasn’t so much standing anymore as kept from falling by the sweating circle of male bodies. Hands were everywhere. She felt them on her bare back and on her butt, even on her chest, which made her chuckle. Poor guy must be disappointed for sure. Then she laughed out loud, grabbing the blond guy’s lapel and kissing him deeply. The grabbing intensified. A next shot burned its way down her throat, a final plastic glass slid from her fingers, the beer washing her feet. The world started spinning, the lights got even dimmer.

Everything got black.


First thing she saw, were beams. They ran diagonally up to disappear into darkness. She must be in an attic. How did she get there? Feeling around, her hand met the soft resilience of a mattress. A bed? But there were no blankets; to be sure, she felt pretty cold and awfully hung over. Her skull resonated with the pounding of her blood; a rat must have died in her mouth.

“Fuck,” she whispered into the grayish darkness as she tried to lift herself up on her elbows. Looking down, she saw that her dress hung in tatters. Her panties had gone; one shoe was still on. Even in the twilight of the attic she could see that the mattress was dirty, smudged with awful stains. A penetrating stench hung around her. She pulled her legs under her, sitting up on her knees, arms hugging her numb body. Memories returned, sort of. Flashes, really; they might have just as well been clips of movies, the horror kind. There were dark silhouettes, faces, a sensation of being pushed and pulled, even sound bites of groans and laughter. How could she remember this? How could she be part of this? She swore again. A wave of nausea shook her. Then the numbness left her body and there was a pulsing soreness all over, mostly in her crotch and her legs, her chest, her jaw too, and her neck. She sank back onto the mattress, panting.

“Ari? Is that you?” She turned her head to find the source of the voice. She recognized it and as she did, another bout of sickness hit her. She rolled to the edge of the mattress and vomited all over the floor, a slimy, stinking flood of goo. The sour taste made her cough and shiver.

“Oh my god, sweetie, what did they do to you?” Hands touched her shoulders. The voice was almost inside her ear. “Fuck, Ari! Are you all right? Tell me, are you all right?” It was too loud, too close. It hurt. She raised an arm to push the intruder away. She wanted to say, ‘fuck off,’ but another wave of nausea blocked her voice. As she crouched at the edge of the mattress, she felt an arm around her. It triggered an almost physical disgust.

“Get lost, Carl,” she groaned. The arm didn’t leave her, neither did the voice. It intruded her tiny world, tearing through the hot, hazy cloak that hung over her; another violation disturbing the sloshing, soup-like air she wallowed in.

“How did you get here, Ari?” it said. “To this fucking place? Did they rape you, sweetie? Tell me, did they?” Suddenly the nausea was gone, the lukewarm soup replaced by an ice-cold rage. Pushing the girl away, she rose, wobbling on one heeled shoe and the unsteady mattress.

“What is it to you, Carl?” she yelled. “Why bother? Don’t you have better things to do, like fucking that Kimberly-fucking-Bimbo-whore and making fun of stupid me?” The screaming tore at her sore throat, making the words come out in a growl. Carl’s eyes widened; she raised her hands as if defending her face from the stream of accusations that didn’t seem to stop.

“Why are you even here, you backstabber?” Ariel screamed. “Don’t you have to be with Big Tits, you liar, eating out her fat marshmallow cunt? Fuck off, Carl! Fuck the fuck off…” Her voice broke. She walked away from the mattress, trying to collect the tatters of her dress and pulling them around her body.

“I…,” she heard Carl mumble. “You…you saw…” Ariel said nothing, walking over to where the other shoe lay, together with her panties. “But… it was nothing, you must believe me, it was nothing. Just silly… Just a theater fuck.” Carl rose and came closer. “It was… I… she…you know, it was the moment. It was… I was, like, elated, you see? The play, the success, and you weren’t there. I, I looked, really looked, missing you. I thought you hadn’t come. I was, like, disappointed. God, honey, but it was nothing, really! Just blowing off steam and missing you.” She stood in front of Ariel, her hands raised in apology. Ariel struck her face, hard.

“Stop lying,” she said, her voice steady now. “I’ll get my things and find a room at the dorm. Now, get lost. You are disgusting.” Carl said nothing, just rubbing her cheek where Ariel had hit her.

“You… you can’t go like this. You’ve been… Let me, please…” she then said, but Ariel cut her off.

“Carl!” she croaked, threatening to hit her again. “Fuck the fuck off!”


Going to the apartment had been like walking through a misty twilight. Somewhere in the mercifully empty frat house she’d found a linen sheet to wrap herself in. The wardrobe had been closed; she couldn’t get to her jacket. Stumbling out on her broken heels, she caught her reflection in a glass wall. What she saw was the ghost of a ghost. It couldn’t be her, could it, really?

Carl wasn’t there when she got home. She rushed inside, running in a straight line to the shower, sighing deeply when the first hot water gushed over her body flushing the dirt and the stench off her skin. What on earth had happened and why didn’t she recall? She stared at the foaming water pooling around her feet. Somehow it seemed to take the soreness with it, but most of the bruises stayed, especially on her chest and around her crotch. On her thighs too. There were flashes of faces again, broad, meaty faces, grabbing hands too, strong hands, and a lot of hot, breathless turmoil. Why didn’t they scare her? Why did she just… register it, like, from a distance?

“Ari?” Carl’s voice was muffled by the door and the water’s downpour, yet it tore through the misty, warm safety that surrounded her. Ariel closed her eyes tightly. ‘Get lost, leave me alone,’ her mind screamed but she didn’t answer. “Ari? We need to talk.” She turned her back to the door. “They raped you, girl,” Carl went on. “I’m sure I know who did it. You need to go to the police!”

“Leave me alone!” Ariel at last cried out, but did she really say it?

“I’m getting in,” Carl answered. The next second she stood in the bathroom; the fucking door didn’t have a lock.

“Get out!” Ariel tried again, moving away from the intruder.

“Turn off the water, you’re flushing evidence,” Carl said, handing her a towel. “We really need to talk.” Ariel ignored her. Carl reached inside the cubicle and cut off the water.

“Don’t be a child, Ari.” Ariel wrapped herself in the towel, another layer of protection. When she tried to get past Carl, the girl blocked her.

“I am truly sorry if I hurt you, Ari,” she said. “I had no intention. But you have to go see a doctor and tell the police. I know some of their names; you can’t let this pass.”

“Why not?” Ariel said, “it’s not your business, is it? You go fuck your pink marshmallow; I’ll handle my problems.” She tried yet again to get past Carl.

“I can see why you’re mad at me,” Carl said, not moving an inch. “But this isn’t about me. Go see a doctor, Ari, please!” Ariel stared her in the eyes; Carl didn’t budge.

“Let me pass, Carl,” she said. The girl stepped aside, Ariel slipped past her and ran to her room, hearing one last ‘please.’

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