The Mermaid of Shi Shi Beach

Sumu Tasib
3 min readApr 29, 2022

A (very) short story inspired by Lori Evans’ painting by the same name; her piece was selected for inclusion at SEAF 2022. See Lori’s full portfolio at

“The Mermaid of Shi Shi Beach,” by Lori Evans, © 2022, all rights reserved. Reproduced by permission from the artist. See Lori’s full portfolio at

It is she. It is me. It is she. It is me. I can no longer tell where she ends and I begin, when I have stopped and she continues. Her body is wrapped around mine as mine is wrapped around hers; the only certainties are the salty wetness of her skin, the pulsing warmth from her breast, the crashing of the waves that caress us both in an endless rhythm of call and answer, catch and release.

I can see her lips open, her diaphragm tense, her chest vibrate with what must be song. I can feel her torso shift as she looks off into the distance, back from whence I came. My shipmates, if I can call them that, had made frantic signs and gestures to each other as they lashed themselves to the mast, to the railings, to anything that felt solid enough to withstand the storm. “She will break you,” Carlos mouthed desperately to me as I walked towards the railing. I stopped for a moment to appreciate him for the fear in his eyes, the only one to show any real concern for my welfare. But I am already broken, I thought, and as he watched in horror, I went to the gap in the railing, undid the rope, and walked into the grey sameness of the sky and the sea.

“Shi Shi beach,” the captain had said, “is a treacherous place. Not for its rocks, you know, but there are some — temptations — for all of you virile young men,” winking and grinning grotesquely, as the men exchanged leering glances and lewd gestures. “Not for you, though, halfling!” he laughed loudly, slapping me on the shoulder, as the rest erupted in a barking echo of their liege. Perhaps he was referring to my ears, or more precisely the dark indentations where my ears should have been. It felt like something more sinister, though, something about my size or my softness, something more like the greedy glances I had learned to evade in the dark recesses of the hold. It felt like another reminder that I was not one of them, that I would never be one of them. This did not bother me: I had no desire to be one of them. I only desired to not be one of me.

When she finally appeared, then, golden in the evening’s early light, green hair afire from the sky’s acetylene, perhaps the rest of the crew ignored me because they thought me immune to her charms. Perhaps they simply did not think of me at all. In any case, what drew me in was not her ethereal beauty, for which I had no reference, nor her siren song, for which I had no ability to hear. Rather it was the deep loneliness in her eyes, deeper than the safe waters from which we had come, darker than the rocks that towered above. I know this darkness, I thought, so much more than I know these men, so much more than I know this sea.

And so I fell. Not with a dramatic leap, not by losing my footing, but simply by stepping off from one world and into another. I do not remember how I reached her, or how she reached me; the next moment that I can recall, I was already wrapped around her like seaweed about an anchor, her tail pulling me close, her deep breath and vibrating chest held fast against the place where my ears would have been. In the distance I could see the fading shadow of the ship dissolving into the mist.

Now, as the last vestiges of the vessel melt into that grey curtain, I feel her singing subside, and I feel myself fading as well, a slow warmth spreading from my neck into all parts of the body we have become. All that is left is the gentle beating of her heart, then mine, then hers, then mine. It is she. It is me. It is she. It is me. I can no longer tell.



Sumu Tasib

Writer. Scientist. Brown. Genderqueer. He/They. Author of "A Boy Named Su” and various short stories. Host of Queer Kahani podcast.