Rhonda Parrish – Sandra Wickham

Anthologies offer a great variety of stories so I love to grab one when I’m not sure what I’m in the mood for. Sirens, edited by Rhonda Parrish, is a collection that is a walk along the beach meandering into a neighbouring mangrove forest, soft water bathing buried toes even as gloomy trees threaten to stab feet and any other body parts with their thirsty roots.

The anthology contains “Experience” by Sandra Wickham, a story that had me cheering. Who doesn’t want to see the bad guy get punished?

Well, this is awkward. The main character doesn’t have a name, just “I” since the story is in first person.

She’s a Siren, who works at the behest of the Goddess, to avenge women who have been wronged by men and has done so for millennium. Yet, now she just sings, pulling her audience so far but never over to obsession, having lost the desire to kill.

The Siren has been called to kill again and she doesn’t want to. Her Goddess removes her abilities to force her to hunt and she moves quickly after that to comply since she ages into an old woman instead of a sultry siren.

Our Siren becomes a wounded woman’s revenge on an assailant from many years ago and I cheered for the Siren because violations stay with victims. Those hurts linger, informing a victim’s decisions and choices forever afterwards. The perpetrator should, our innate sense of justice tells us, pay for the damage that that has been inflicted. It doesn’t happen enough in real life so I love stories with characters that deliver justice, even if these simple solutions would never balance out in real life.

What really struck me about the woman wronged though was her choice to keep her own experiences despite those painful wounds: “I’ve done my time, lived my life. I like who I am now.”