Tag Archives: The Story of Essa

“The Story of Essa” – Fiction by Alison McBain

Enchanted Beach - Boris Mago, 1938
Enchanted Beach – Boris Mago, 1938

Alison McBain‘s “The Story of Essa” is a stirring, dream-like tale of transformation from our Summer 2015 issue, which you can order online via Amazon and Createspace. Copies are also available at fine independent brick-and-mortar stores like Bluestockings and St. Mark’s Bookshop.

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BEFORE HE BROUGHT THE KEY, Essa had been chained to the basement door her whole life–locked within the confines of her own ten fingers and the ability to work small magicks when on call. Before she sunk her feet into the sand, before the rough-hued grains cascaded over her toes, she had never known how to move with any sort of rhythm.

The seagulls sang, and the wind came down to partner her, and she danced and she danced and she danced.


Words had never been required. She saw herself as a newborn, the thin loops of the basement chains cascading around chubby wrists and baby cankles, and the admonishment of angels telling her to hush. When he came before her, he didn’t ask questions–he gave her fully-formed sentences, directives for training and the execution of purpose. He taught her how to summon her will and focus it to the desires of the mind; he taught her how to name, silently, all the colors held inside.

But her words were not noticed when she tried them out. Her mouth fell idle in the absence of encouragement. Her tongue dwindled down until it became a tube and split at the end. Sometimes, she cast her tongue out like a net to scent the air, little lizard-girl pining for the day. Continue reading “The Story of Essa” – Fiction by Alison McBain