by Bec­ca De La Rosa

She bloomed like a flower from his skele­ton, one unnec­es­sary bone grown longer in a Petri dish, and the snakes that presided over her birth asked: “What are you, a ves­ti­gial limb? What are you, sutured skin? Where is your mat­ter? What mat­ter belongs to you, if any­thing belongs to you?” and she couldn’t answer. This sin­gle bone, her ground­work, it sat on her chest like a heavy cat. It leaned on her. Bad weath­er loved it. The snakes curled around her ankles.

She packed a bag with a pair of jeans, a pair of red high heels, and a black rain­coat. “What else will I bring?” she asked the snakes. They said noth­ing, but watched her, long­ing­ly, their tongues work­ing over her name, her name reworked in flick­er­ing silk. Their love for her was an ache in their ver­te­brae, and when they thought she wasn’t watch­ing, they cried into the dirt. Every time a snake cries, some­where in the world an apple tree shivers.

The world made room for her high-heeled feet, and she went to the city and took a job in a beau­ty salon below an iron stair­case, arrang­ing hair­cuts and man­i­cures for wealthy busi­ness women. The snakes went with her. Under­neath her receptionist’s desk, they twined like hun­gry vines. Again and again they fell in love with her ankles, her calves, her red toe­nails. All this love exhaust­ed them; but they enjoyed life in the city, which was rich with mice, and spar­rows, and red apples by the bushel.

She was the favourite of bank rob­bers. The dear­est to a pirate’s heart. Mag­pies fell in love with her and flew to dec­o­rate her pow­er lines.

All through the years his rib-bone pressed against the meat of her heart and made her into a com­pass for storms. She began to get a rep­u­ta­tion with her reg­u­lar cus­tomers as a psy­chic, or a well-dressed witch. In pri­vate, they asked her to read their Tarot cards, their tea leaves, tell their for­tunes. She smiled gra­cious­ly. She shook her head.

His skele­ton was her ori­gin. He had come from a minute bun­dle of cells, grow­ing out­ward like spun sug­ar, but she had grown only to cov­er this part of him. She asked the snakes, “What am I, an umbrel­la? A muse­um cura­tor? Is that all I am?”

The snakes kissed her fin­ger­tips like kit­tens. They had no solutions.

He appeared above her iron stair­case. She looked up at him and split in half like a wal­nut. He appeared above her iron stair­case, and one half of her set to sea in a row­boat. He stood on the stairs with a map of her capillaries.

“Hello,” he said.

“Hello,” she said.

A storm swept over them. He blocked light from the sky. He unfold­ed like a par­cel, and rain feast­ed on his ele­gant wrists. He had no explanation.

They gave one anoth­er their cau­tious smiles. She did not climb the stair­case to stand beside him, although the bone in her chest called out for the bones in his hands, his arms, his shoul­ders. Her snakes dripped from the wrought-iron ban­is­ter, tast­ing the air between them.

“I’ve missed you,” he said, awkwardly.

She shook her head. “What am I, a left turn?” she whis­pered to the snakes. Their laughs were polite. They knew that she was not much of a comedian.

In the eye of the storm he had no rain­coat. As she watched, his hair grew longer, well-watered, down to his shoul­ders, his ribs, his hips, the colour of dirt, the colour of a grand­fa­ther clock. “Come with me,” she said.

In the beau­ty salon she washed his hair in a porce­lain basin, led him to a chair beside a row of mir­rors, swept a black cape over his immac­u­late suit. She con­sult­ed her com­put­er sched­ule and appoint­ed a Pol­ish girl named Anka to attend to him with tiny sil­ver scis­sors. When the floor was drenched with his dis­card­ed hair, she sent Anka away, and stood above him in his black swiv­el-chair. She stud­ied his expres­sion care­ful­ly. “Well,” she said. She took the sil­ver scis­sors and cut off the small­est fin­ger on her left hand. Blood fell over her red shoes. He made a noise, as though he would have stopped her. Clean, picked free of skin and blood, her fin­ger bone sat in the palm of her hand like a cater­pil­lar. She offered it to his lips. He swal­lowed it down.

A long time ago she would have touched his cool eyes. Instead she turned from him with­out a back­wards glance. The sound of her foot­steps was a match being struck.

Inside the fin­ished cir­cle of her, a wound to be dressed. Inside his for­ma­tive shape, the small­est of intrud­ers: a sil­ver key, a sim­ple wed­ding band. His absence mar­ried hers. The snakes drank her blood from the floorboards.

Bec­ca De La Rosa lives in Dublin, Ire­land, and is cur­rent­ly study­ing Ancient Greek at uni­ver­si­ty. Her sto­ries have been pub­lished in Sybil’s Garage, The Best of Lady Churchill’s Rose­bud Wrist­let, Fan­ta­sy Mag­a­zine, and Jab­ber­wocky 4, among var­i­ous oth­er places.

One Response to "Eve"

  • Love­ly. Thank you Bec­ca, I real­ly enjoyed this.

    1 Chanel Earl said this (June 28, 2011 at 1:26 am)