by Lisa L. Hannett
read by Cian Mac Mahon
First published in The Dark Magazine.
Part of our Aurealis Month, celebrating the Australian Aurealis Awards.
Hosted by Angela Slatter.
Accordions unpleated welcoming songs the day the mermaids returned.
The first notes droned joyful at dawn, played by young men with wool collars unrolled against the wind. Mattress-clouds bulged above land and water, miles of damp cotton dulling the fishermen’s music. As the sky blanched, fiddlers sawed harmonies, horsehairs screeching on weather-warped bows. Bodhráns were rescued from blanket boxes and cupboards, clatter-spoons from the backs of junk drawers. Soon drummers thumb-pounded down autumn-gold slopes from the village. Beats jigged and reeled past the wharves, along the coast, then splashed through froth seething to shore.
Sparking a cig, Billy Rideout watched the procession from the dunes. Nodded at the lack of flute-wailing. That hollow music wasn’t fit for a homecoming, he thought. Too much like drowning-storms. Like last breaths blown through old bones.
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Lisa L. Hannett has had over 65 short stories appear in venues including Clarkesworld, Fantasy, Weird Tales, Apex, the Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror, and Imaginarium: Best Canadian Speculative Writing. She has won four Aurealis Awards, including Best Collection for her first book, Bluegrass Symphony, which was also nominated for a World Fantasy Award. Her first novel, Lament for the Afterlife, was published in 2015. You can find her online at http://lisahannett.com and on Twitter @LisaLHannett.
Cian Mac Mahon is an Irish Software Engineer who in a past life was the world’s youngest professional podcaster, ran a radio station and very nearly ended up being a journalist.
While he hopes to some day revive his show which podfaded many years ago, he now spends most of his free time playing about with cameras and cooking, as old microphones and sound-desks lurk in the shadows, right at the edge of eyesight.