Iliana Vargas

translated by Toshiya Kamei

Melusina belongs to a tribe of handless women, who wear dresses with long bell-shaped sleeves that protect their beautiful wooden prostheses. When they sing, they break into howls with which they hypnotize wild animals and make them fall into a trance so that the village men can capture them alive and bring them home. There, the women feast on the raw meat and blood while the animals are still alive. The songs also help the mothers lull their daughters to sleep and get them ready for feeding the finger-devouring fish, favorite pets of the tribal girls, who get initiated into the depths of pleasure by plunging their small soft hands into the ponds swarming with these scaly creatures that tear the young flesh and bones into pieces, easily digested. The girls smile in excitement as they watch the blood sprout and dissolve away in the water at each bite.

Melusina, too, smiles. It’s her first visit to the pond. Her mother adjusts the small sleeves of the dress while, for the last time, and with contempt, the girl looks at her ten fingers through the liquid that starts to become tinged with red.


Iliana Vargas was born in 1978 in Mexico City, where she still lives today. She is the author of the short story collections Joni Munn y otras alteraciones del psicosoma (2012), Magnetofónica (2015), and Habitantes del aire caníbal (2017). Translations of her short stories have recently appeared in Logos and Speculative 66.