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The humming needle pauses. “You sure you want me to do this part?” asks Ursula.

Ariel inhales, exhales and flexes her toes. Her legs throb from the long session, and the tattooist’s towel shades pink to red.

“It’s going to hurt to walk,” says Ursula, “and it really won’t last longer than a month.”

Ariel nods, and even smiles a little.

The humming resumes; Ursula draws the fishscale pattern over her heels and onto the soles of her feet. Ariel breathes. Her tears are seafoam. You can always walk back into the ocean, they said; and all it costs is blood.