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)