In the second issue of One Teen Story, Gregory Maguire writes a piece that is about loss and solitude. The Freshwater Mermaid is about Carter-Ann, a girl who witnesses the terrorist bombing that takes the lives of her parents, just before entering her senior year of high school. The short story follows her life up until high school graduation, taking you on her struggle of grief and guilt as she struggles to come to terms with the death of her parents. Carter-Ann begins to go through the routine of her life as if living it in a glass bubble. She is alone, yet surrounded by people who are trying to help her through this tragedy, but unsure of how to deal with her grief and guilt. When her boarding school roommate leaves Carter-Ann to care for her two fish while away for spring break, Carter-Ann experiences death once again when one of the fish dies while left in her care. It seems like death is becoming part of her everyday life, at least according to Carter-Ann.
Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked, and the rest of The Wicked Years sequence, has a way when it comes to words. He provides his readers with imagery and a sense of fantasy that is realistic and relatable. I found myself amazed that he took me on a year-long journey with Carter-Ann that lasted only fourteen pages and I didn’t feel rushed in the least bit. The Freshwater Mermaid is a story that can be applied to all aspects of life, not just tragedy and death. Like Carter-Ann, we have all experienced moments of grief and guilt that have come to consume our lives while we have struggled to overcome those emotions. While the story may seem depressing and lonely, I found it empowering in a sense that could be used to strengthen someone in their own time of grief.