Caitlin R. Kiernan (greygirlbeast) will include, alongside her erotic vignettes in her story-by-subscription service Sirenia Digest, responses to questions she asks. Last month, for the May edition of Sirenia, she asked
If I were to be pressed into servitude as a freak in a carnival sideshow, and if you were to have a hand in how I would be made freakish and how I would be presented to the carnival-going public...what would you make of me? Yes, illusion and chicanery may be involved. But nothing's too outlandish.
And I didn't pass up a chance to write for Caitlin by finding my own personal answer for this, written 4/9/2011:
Scales. Fish scales. But patchy, like it's a skin outbreak: a few on the face, here and there on the arms and torso, a snaking line of them along the left thigh (to be shown by the artfully-torn rags you are wearing), others along what looks like a growth growing out of your left shoulder, as if there were a vestigial wing or you'd been a Dr. Moreau-like hybrid of mermaid and angel. One where the vivisection didn't quite -- quite -- take. With legs looking like they were likely to become two mermaid tails: the hints of, perhaps, proto-flukes fluttering from the sides of your feet.
It would be a chance to swim. The carnival wouldn't be able to afford a big tank, I'm sure you'd understand, plus it'd have to be portable enough for travel, but your breath control would allow you to stay underwater for lengths of time designed to make visitors...uncomfortable.