Flexuous

Perfectly carved

Like a sculpture old

She stands on the stage

Wearing only a sash

Please do not look

She has only tonight

Before it all fades

The twisting lights

Blue and green and

Red and yellow and-

There she is.

If you look

You may never see

Again.

February The First

February came
With all the excitement of a wet leaf
Soggy, damp, and dew-dropped.

The leaf holds no promise for me;
Prim-rose and parquets line
The cusp of my garden.

But to the vole; squeaky, sullen
Silent among the reeds and thistles
The wet leaf means renewal.

A Rare Form of Solitude

Victor is a spy:

Not a very good one, he

Is constantly seen

Perching on windowsills

Holding still on planters

Peering through windowpanes,

Big slats of smudged glass.

 

His mother is dead:

Not a very good death, she

Was diagnosed with some rare form of

Hodkins-Non Hodkins Sickle Cell Breast Pelvic Oral Skin radiation,

Or maybe she just fell off something very high, or

Maybe she was never really here at all; like an angel, or

A magic woman, come with potions and tonics resplendent.

 

‘VICTOR!’

 

His father shouts:

Angrily, from the balcony, he

Calls down onto the street below

Worried about the dinner on the table:

Did he cook it just right? Is it too cold?

Will he stimulate Victor in

Pragmatic, analytic, thought-provoking, developmentally rich

Dinner conversation? What with

Marie gone, and so suddenly.

 

‘VICTOR!’

 

Victor hears the echoes:

He crouches on a stoop, a crumpling one with

A rusty handrail and graffiti-stained granite steps

Leading up to a dilapidated building that houses

A thousand boring people who Victor is intently interested in.

He hides from his father’s call, beckoning

Him into a house he no longer desires, a life

That died along with his mother.

 

‘VICTOR!’

 

His father shouts into the night:

He sees his son under a thin strand of

Lamplight pooling on the steps

Of a long-forgotten stoop.

And oh, his son cowers, frightened of

A past that wasn’t so forgiving—

A childhood ripped and jarred.

Victor’s father walks inside the apartment

From the balcony and sits at the table to dine,

Alone.

He says grace, asking God to bless Marie,

Alone.

 

‘Victor!’

 

His mother cries from he clouds:

She says it softly, sweetly, she

Coos into his floppy ear.

Victor sits on the stoop and says Grace,

Alone

While Marie sits up in the stars

And waits.

The Nightmare

I saw the beast, he says,

Eyes wide, worn cotton blanket tucked

Under one arm.

With a jaguars body

And bear’s feet

And a lion’s mouth—

The devil!

 

What did he do? His mother asks.

Maybe he’s ugly but he’s not so bad,

Maybe he’s powerful but gentle still, maybe

He walks the earth just to tell us something

Good and whole and pure.

 

He wasn’t, mother,

The boy whispers, afraid.

Everyone worshipped him, and

Him alone. And they forgot God,

And all the children danced around him, and

They were happy, very happy.

 

So? His mother asks.

So, he says, shaken,

He ate them all up.

All of the children danced around him

As he ate them one by one:

Very happy, very happy,

Then nothing at all.

Monochromacy

“I do not see in color. I see only in blacks, and in whites, and in shades of useless, shadowed gray,” he says to me, placing his fingers on my arm, rubbing the tips of his nails against my blonde hairs, almost scraping against-

“I think I saw green once. That is, I saw a weird light shine on the grass, and my brother told me that grass is green. But maybe I didn’t really see green at all. Maybe it was blue or cream or chestnut. Maybe it was periwinkle. Violet, rose, magenta…” He trails off, blinking his eyelids, heavy with sleep. The train wears heavy on its’ tracks, and he begins to snore against my shoulder. I try to see the world like he does, sometimes. I try to see the world in Casablanca monochrome, a dizzying frenzy of shadow and light, never quite sliding into the Technicolor haze to which I have become accustom. I stare at the grass and try to see it as hazy grey sheaths of life. The dew is silver and the dead grass is white and the stalk is the most beautiful shade of charcoal I have ever seen.

* * *

We met on the train to Normandy. It was winter and I had forgotten to pack my heavy coat. I was miserable in the most gorgeous country in the world.

I was focused on my manuscript then, back when I thought it was any good, and he watched me try to scratch heavy letters with the blunt tip of an antique fountain pen into the rough curves of a parchment paper notebook, which made from the recycled soles of abandoned shoes.

“How pretentious,” he noted. “A fountain pen. Parchment paper.”

I hadn’t noticed him there. Truthfully, he was plain- a stick with copper wire-rims and the complexion of a stubbled, greasy teenager. He wore his auburn hair long, so it sat on his shoulders, the split ends colliding with his rough wool sweater.

I tell him that I don’t believe in writing if it’s easy. That if Shakespeare could write with a quill, I could certainly write with my grandfather’s fountain pen.

“The difference is that Shakespeare was an artist,” He says. I stare into his eyes, a sparkling shade of blue that he himself will never see.

“And I’m not?”

He sighs and leans against the train’s window. “Why are you in France?”

His voice is lightly accented, like a Parisian who attended an American school, reading British literature and watching Russian films.

I tell him I’m here for inspiration. It’s partially true, anyways.

“See, that’s the thing. A real artist need not leave their own bedroom to write their magnum opus.”

* * *

I’m in my bedroom now, and I haven’t written my magnum opus, or even its’ rough draft. Cat hair clings to all the sofas and all of the woolen sweaters he gave me. I haven’t paid my electric bill in three months. I sleep in my winter coat. A postcard taped to my bathroom mirror reads “Allons-y au Paris!” and on it there’s a kitten rubbing its’ whiskers on the Eiffel Tower. A few weeks ago I couldn’t stop vomiting. I wretched and I wretched and out came everything I had ever eaten. The carpets are now stained brown, but not a drop got on the postcard, so at least there’s that.

* * *

The train stops at Mont St. Michel, and we all got off for breakfast. He followed me, not saying a word, and we silently picked a café together. The waitress doesn’t know the word bacon, and when it comes it is different than the greasy, fatty strips of broiled flesh that I’m used to making for myself over the stove. They taste like strips of food, pink and savory, covered in butter and laced with a sort of chutney, a wonderful sort of chutney.  He tells me about St. Michel.

“It’s an island, but not really.”

I don’t understand until he takes me to an overlook, carved into a rocky outcropping. We are surrounded by water on all sides.

“Then how did the bus drive up here?” I ask.

The water flows and recedes, he says. It was dry land then.

In the distance, sheep graze on grass and run along the hillsides. I wonder later if the sheep could see the greenness of the grass, the way the foggy sunrise cast a pink shadow on each stalk. I spend ten minutes just admiring the grass swaying in the breeze, the tide crashing against the base of the mount. He sends it staring at the pen I’ve tucked behind my floppy ear.

* * *

Later that night he nibbles on the ear, sucking it and tasting it, leaving ruby red bite marks that trail down towards my neck. I am an island, but not really. Sometimes I’m alone, but other times I’m surrounded by cool water that fills me and sustains me. The holy water of life and lust and love and listless hours that John the Baptist poured on Jesus’ head and said “And it is good.”

I try to remember this when I get home to my apartment in Wichita. I pick up the phone to call my mother, to tell her I’ve met someone. I hang up on the third ring. I always forget she’s a bigoted fuck when I reach for the phone.

* * *

I keep getting trapped in dreams. My alarm goes off and I try to reach for it but I’m still stuck elsewhere. On a train from Paris to the beaches up north. In a bedroom, nibbling on his chest. On top of the mount while the tides pour their briny spittle against the rocks.

I begin to be glad that I’m unemployed. I don’t really have anything to wake up for, and I let the alarm chirp while I dangle my feet into the icy waters of Normandy.

Can you imagine how many people died here?

I always ask him this just as the alarm goes off. He sits in silence until my mind breaks free, and I never hear his answer.

* * *

Thierry,

Did you know that there’s a tribe in Africa that sees colors totally different than everyone else? It’s because they have different words for the colors, and they bunch all sorts of colors together in groups. They have their own words, like the Japanese call savory foods unami and we can only kind of picture what that means. Can you imagine? Their eyes are the same, but they see different things.

There are so many things that I can’t see that you can. I can see the pink light on the grass but I can’t see why that should make me any happier than a withered patch of desert shrubs, tumbling, alone. A life without color; a life without resilience.

-Jack

* * *

“I do not see in color. I see only in blacks, and in whites, and in shades of useless, shadowed gray,” he says to me, placing his fingers on my arm, rubbing the tips of his nails against my blonde hairs, this time scraping against them.

“How did you get these?” he asks. “When did you get these?”

“Yesterday.”

“Why?”

“I was alone.”

“Aren’t you alone every day?”

“Not every day, not always.”

* * *

I don’t see him for a few days. I sit on the beach alone and suck at the end of my pen, licking at ink. The tide washes against rocks, against abandoned bunkers and loose hunks of scrap metal.

I dig the tip of the pen into my arm and write a story.

Nobody reads it because it isn’t very good.

* * *

To:

Jack Yearly, Wichita, Kansas, 67203, USA.

Jack,

In reviewing your piece, Polychrome, we found many factual errors. We enjoyed the vivid descriptions of color and the beautiful images you evoked. Your piece had an iridescence that almost lifted off the page. However, a third person account of a man’s romance with another man is hardly hard-hitting travel writing. In fact, it’s not even travel writing at all. Your descriptions of Mont St. Michel and the northern regions of France bear little factual integrity. It is as if you had never been there, save through books and online articles. Perhaps your work would be better suited for a literary magazine.

Best,

The World Informer

P.O. Box 22330

New York, New York 10292

 

* * *

“’I think I saw green once. That is, I saw a weird light shine on the grass, and my brother told me that grass is green. But maybe I didn’t really see green at all. Maybe it was blue or cream or chestnut. Maybe it was periwinkle. Violet, rose, magenta…’”

“Monochromacy is very rare in humans,” she says. “Are you sure that’s what he had?”

I tell her I’m positive. I repeat what he said. I show her the postcard he wrote me last weekend. She stares at the kitten and the Eiffel tower briefly, then flips it over, fingers the glossy edges.

“20 mg, Prozac, once a day. Take this to the pharmacy, get it filled. Don’t forget. “

Her prescription pad is sea foam green, and the ink is a subdued shade of aquamarine.

She asks if she can keep the postcard.

* * *

MAILER DEAMON: DO NOT REPLY:

THE FOLLOWING (16) MESSAGES COULD NOT BE DELIVERED.

ERROR TYPE: UNKOWN ADDRESS

RETURN TO USER: JJYEARLEY

* * *

I sit on the beach alone, writing stories into my skin, but this time he joins me. He spreads a tattered blanket on the sand and motions for me to sit next to him. He pulls off his sweater and hands it to me.

“How could you forget?”

“My sweater? It’s not important, really. I’m not cold.”

“Not the sweater, Jack.”

I didn’t forget, not really. It’s sitting on my kitchen counter. It’s orange and opaque, with blue trim around the lid. 20 mg, once a day.

I’m afraid to be lonely, really. I’m afraid that if I take the chalky egg-shell colored pills that I’ll lose the beach, the blanket, the winter air, the tides. I’ll lose the pink on the stalks and I’ll lose him.

“I’ll lose you.”

He rubs my arm, feels the scars.  I ask him what color the water is.

“Grey.”

The Crane

Paper cranes torn from the scraps of picture books long forgotten,

Lifeless illustrations bending into folded wings,

A curved beak, the contours of the neck,

Covered in pastel picturesques:

A dusty sunrise closing in on an orange mountain-

A child’s favorite landscape.

 

And here, now, she breathes life into it with every crease of paper,

Sighing into the sunrise, which is purple and mottled with

Chocolate milk fingerprints.

From the rooftop she lets it fall;

It soars but remains lifeless still

 

The Seventeen Year Locust

The Seventeen Year Locust

Like the cicada she rises

After seventeen long years

Lifted from her cave

Beneath the earth’s surface.

 

The dirt, the debris

The weight of the years

Has caused her fragile wings

To snap upon first flutter.

 

She waits on the ground

While the others, who

Too waited for the light

Of first morning break free.

 

Alone, left behind

She waddles along

The dirt pathway,

Ignored by all.

 

As the others mate,

Flapping through the air,

Fluttering together,

Intimately, briefly-

 

She watches in

Stunned silence,

Chirping to herself,

Jealousy, jealousy.

 

For she was born

To be beautiful, her

Exoskeleton perfectly

Molded to fit against the curves of her-

 

Wings.

She flaps,

Attempting to take flight,

And, of course, goes nowhere.

 

 

 

 

Above her,

The dance of love breathes,

Betraying her heart

With every flutter.

 

 

Each is paired,

And none are spared

From their inevitable,

Early demise.

 

They lay their eggs,

Tiny, slimy products

Of a brief and breathless

Winged encounter-

 

And,

Then,

They die.

The parents die.

 

Their love is forgotten,

The eggs wait,

Alone, under the surface,

For seventeen hapless years.

 

And she, who is

Unpaired, waits for death

To greet her slowly.

The others dead, she lives on for months.

Falleth From the Vine

(I’m not much of a poet, but here goes…)

“…As the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as the falling fig from the fig tree.” Isaiah 34:4

 

 

As the leaf falleth from the vine,

As the fig falleth from the fig tree,

You shall fall into my mine open arms,

And we shall tumble in the reedy boughs,

And all the world shall slumber.

 

And while they sleep

A thousand sheep

Shall be met with the sword of God.

And a thousand goats, and a thousand steeds,

Shall fall thereto.

 

The ground is soaked with blood,

The sky is grey with vengeance,

But we are perfect before his eyes

(Fallen into my arms)

Here among the reedy boughs.

A Cosmic Event

 

I.

I look up at the stars, and the glare from the city lights links them together, like a connect-the-dots, like the stars were meant to be. There are greek heroes and giant beasts and ladies of great beauty up there, and they will always be up there, as they have always been.

There is no one who I can tell about the stars tonight, for everyone is asleep, or ornery, or both.

 

II.

The best night sky I ever saw was around a campfire in Yosemite.

It was the fourth of July, but it was cool in the mountains, and the fireflies twinkled all about, and we threw woodchips into flame as kindling and the fire grew higher and higher until, I swear, it touched the heavens.

You can’t get stars like this in the city, the park ranger said, as she told a tale of Indians and of bears and pinecones, or something like that.

 

III.

The second best night sky I ever saw was in Paris, in the fifteenth arondisement, where the streets were crumbling and old houses that stood for centuries gave way to a bulldozer, a drill, and a project to expand the city metro. We sat smoking on the balcony, our legs dangling over the edge, and I swear I could see a couple fucking in the balcony across from ours, far across the street.

Isn’t it beautiful? I ask.

The fucking? She replies.

No, I say. The stars.

They are few, and they are hazy, covered by the smog of thousands of whispers, thousands of cars rumbling along the stone streets, thousands of lost poems and stories, scraps of paper thrown into gutters, and now our smoke, rising up to meet the stars, until, I swear, it touched the heavens.

 

IV.

The worst night I spent underneath the stars was in the mountains of the Shennandoah, the crooked, winding curve of the Appalachain trail. The mosquitoes bit, the water was almost out, and I swear, oh I swear, that I heard a bear scratching at our foodsack, tied up high in the boughs of a twisted tree.

I thought I was going to die.

Are we going to make it home? I ask.

She tries to calm me down, but I’m weighed down by guilt. I whisper to God, please let us make it through this night, please, please, oh lord, my god, the god of my ancestors, the god of Israel…

But god is too busy with wars and famine and babies being born, and babies dying, and people cursing the heavens, so I am met with silence and the whir of angry crickets in the moonlight.

The moonlight.

It streaks through the mesh canvas of the tent, and I look up and marvel at the stars.

They would be beautiful if I wasn’t going to die so soon.

I say to myself, I wish I could live to see another night, a thousand nights, a million nights. I wish I could live to see another night like the night in Yosemite, or the night in Paris. I wish I could live to watch the stars with my children, swinging on a porch swing (on my back porch, my very own).

Gee, I say to myself, wouldn’t that be nice.

 

V.

I lived, of course, to see more stars, like the stars tonight that I couldn’t tell anyone about, because everyone was asleep, or ornery, or both.

 

VI.

Somewhere, somewhere far from here, a little boy looks at the stars. And he sits, dangling his legs out the balcony of a grumbling ghetto apartment. And the bombs ricochet against walls that lie only a few blocks away, and the ground shakes. And the little boy is a descendant of David, a great king, but he’ll never know it, for this little boy is not great, but is only, merely, a little boy. He likes to play hopscotch on the cracked sidewalks with cobblestones as markers and dirt as chalk. He likes to shoot at pigeons with his slingshot. He likes to watch the television when he goes over to his friend’s houses (he doesn’t have one, and never will). He likes to color in the margins of his tattered schoolbooks. He likes to read old crumpled up newspapers that he finds in gutters. He likes to lick the juice from a tangerine out from the rinds. He likes to look up at the stars and imagine they are vendors in a giant bazaar, and all the airplanes and flashing satellites are the customers and they buy fine silks and rubies from the stars. The satellite that broadcasts the television programs the boy loves so much buys some emeralds from a distant star. The star thanks the satellite as it takes golden coins as payment, and then it implodes on itself and a black hole forms and sucks all the nice linens and jewels that the star sold away, and no one will ever get to look at them again.

 

VII.

I know people who do not care about the stars, and they do not care about the earth, or the streams, or the valleys. They do not care about the salt in the ocean air, the tangy breeze after a heavy summer rain, the smell of the cold air right before a snowfall. There are people I know who hate great literature, and they loathe themselves. I get along with these people, but I would never tell them about the stars tonight, because they wouldn’t care.

 

VIII.

When I was little I was very lonely, because I was small and sickly and had no one to play with. I wondered why God made me so bushy and small. I wondered why he made my eyebrows so thick and my skin so red and freckled. I wondered why it was that when my cuts and scrapes would heal they would leave white marks that would linger for a year or more. I fell one summer and scraped all my joints, and I couldn’t move. By the time I was healed the leaves had turned colors and it was time for school. I sat at my window and wondered how long it would take these scars to heal. The neighbor boy called from his back porch, come over, come over!

I decided not to, and the neighbor boy sat on his porch and watched the stars while a dog panted softly on his lap.

 

IX.

I have a scar under my chin that has never healed. I once tried to connect all of my freckles together, but there were too many. The first boyfriend I ever had said he liked me for my freckles.

They’re cute, he said. I don’t know anything about him, and I never did. All I know is that I was young and lonely, and he was older and lonely and needed someone to kiss for a few days one summer. A month ago he called me, though I don’t remember ever giving him my number. He breathes into the phone, long, labored breaths. I talk to him out of pity, because the one thing I do know about him is that he is still lonely, and I am not.

The stars are nice tonight, I say.

They aren’t really anything special, but I say it anyway. From wherever he is he says he can’t see any stars. Try, I say. They’re there even if it’s cloudy, even if you’re in a city. Go outside.

I’m in my basement, he says. You tell me how the stars look.

I hang up the phone, and I don’t answer when he calls the next day, and I don’t answer ever again.

 

X.

Seven years ago there was a cosmic event; all I remember that it was a once-in-a-lifetime cosmic event. It was all over the newspapers. The sad thing was, no kids would get to see it, because it was going to happen at 3 a.m.

 

My parents woke me up to see the sky that night. It was a chilly April, and I didn’t have time to throw shoes on.

 

I asked what I was supposed to be searching for in that sky.

 

I don’t know, they say, and we go inside and forget it ever happened, and it doesn’t happen again in our lifetimes, and we don’t notice either way.

Fugitives and Vagabonds

The following piece, along with the previous entry in my blog, were written in the Spring of 2011. I was going through a fascination with the simplistic yet elegant writing style of the Bible. I am not religious, nor have I ever been. However, adapting biblical stories into modern narratives can be a fun and secular exercise . The following is based upon the biblical story of Cain and Able, from the book of Genesis. 

——————–

Eve thought she had done her best.

She and Adam were married a long time before Cain was born. There were some complications

When he was finally in her arms, Eve wept. Adam stood firmly by her side and rubbed his thumb against the smooth valleys of her knuckles. They swaddled him in a plush blue blanket and strapped him in a second hand car seat they bought at the Goodwill on South street. Cain cried when Adam revved the engine of the Ford pickup truck. Cain cried the entire half-hour car ride. Cain cried when Adam pulled the truck into the gravel driveway in front of their new farmhouse. Eve spent her days rocking the baby while she prepared wool to sell at the local farmers market. The sounds of the wool pressing through the carders made Cain cry. The lull of the spindle made Cain cry.

Adam said unto Eve ‘we’ve got to do something about the god damn crying.’

Eve said unto Adam ‘what do you propose?’

Adam proposed to spend longer hours outside, milking the goats and pulling the crops. He took their small yield to the farmer’s market more often, and networked with local organic groceries to stock their strawberries and raw wool. They didn’t make very much money, even with the doubled efforts. Adam’s angry muttering made Cain cry.

When Cain was two Eve became pregnant again. It was a miracle; that’s what the doctors said. Adam grumbled and took up smoking. Cigarette butts littered the strawberry field. Abel was born two weeks early. He was a strawberry blonde with a button nose. His cheeks were ruddy and his lips were lush red. Abel was silent when he was delivered. Abel was silent when he was buckled into the urine soaked car seat that Cain had bruised to pieces. They couldn’t afford a new one so Cain sat on Eve’s lap. Abel made Cain cry.

Cain grew into a sturdy child with thick shoulders and thighs. His lips were permafrost into a scowl, and his dark bangs slid in front of his chestnut eyes. He gorged himself on the fruits and meats of the farm. He was quick to hunt, sharpshooting his first turtledove at the age of five. Eve was distraught, but Adam said they shouldn’t let the gift of food go to waste. They no longer could afford to fuel the truck, and town was so far away. Abel asked for little. He wept for a moment when Cain thrust the dead dove onto the kitchen table, but only for a moment. Then Able bowed his head and laid his fingers on the bloody dove and had peace.

When Cain was nine he started to help with the farm chores. First he helped by force but soon he took to it, and ran to the field to help tend the crops rather than sit inside and read alongside Eve and Abel. The boy was gifted, and the yield increased. Cain felt the land, by instinct, deep within his soul. Soon they planted apple orchards and, for the first time, were able to reap grapes from their tangled grove. Eve gave up on wool and started to press the grapes and age them into wine. They used the cellar of the barn and experimented with fermentation. They sampled the wine themselves and thought it was the finest they had ever tasted. When his parents weren’t looking, Cain filled his thermos with the wine and took it up to the tree house. Abel begged him to return the wine, but Cain drank it down in a single gulp. He was sick for a week. The ladies of the farmer’s market loved the wine. A local bottling company offered to bottle and sell the wine. They asked what they should call it. When Adam bought the farm from an old milkmaid’s daughter there had been a sign on the barn door that read ‘Little Eden’. It was faded now, and caked with mud, so Adam dug it out from the pig’s slop and painted it new.

Little Eden vineyards started to make money.

When Abel was nine he begged to help like his older brother Cain. Only, Abel wasn’t very good with picking fruit from trees or vines. He was a skinny, frail thing and barely big enough to pick up a watering can. Cain made the daily chores into an excuse to push his brother into whatever thorny bramble or slimy puddle he could find, so Abel often ran off and spent his mornings sprawled out on his back in the sheep’s paddock, making shapes out of the clouds. He wasn’t scolded for his sloth because Adam and Cain knew that Abel was her favorite. She knit him hats constantly to manage the unruly swath of orange hair that carpeted his scalp, and made him overalls out of taffeta and gingham.

Abel proved his worth one morning, when the pregnant goat in the pen next to the paddock began to bleat in pain. Adam and the now teenage Cain were off in the now sprawling vineyard. Abel stood fast while the goat began to deliver. He did not cry out for help. He felt a kindness with goat and knew instinctively how to help her deliver. Eve set out later that evening to call Abel in for supper, only to find her son in the pen covered with goat’s blood, grinning ear to ear. He named the baby goat Seth.

With Abel’s careful watch, the goats and sheep, a once overlooked herd of livestock, prospered. Eve once again began to card wool and knit beautiful handbags, which she sold in town. The goat’s milk was bottled and sold by the same grocery as the wine. Some residents of the town refused to drink any other milk- they said it tasted sweet like honey, and pooled cold in their mouths and spilled warm down the back of their throats. The goat’s meat was flayed and seasoned, and Adam and his sons ate well.

Cain was eighteen. Abel was fifteen. The rain dried up. The ground became desert, and the fertile soil that allowed the vineyard to sprawl turned into a crusty dust heap. The strawberries were ruined. Only the orchard remained, but the apples tasted bitter, for the soil was rough and the roots dried up. The family still did well, for there was still plenty of wine in the cellar to be sold, and the goat’s milk had never been so sweet. Abel had become a favorite son of the town. He was showered with praise and was very good looking. Girls often stood at the paddock’s gate to watch him tend the sheep. Abel was quiet and reserved, and did not speak very much. But he smiled, and that was enough.

There was nothing Cain could do about the yield, and in his boredom he started to shoot heroine. He would drive the truck into the city and shoot up behind the shadow of a brothel. There was not much left for him on the farm, and he had ignored his education for many years. He was often gone.

Abel was unassuming and greeted his brother warmly when he returned.

When Abel turned eighteen, his parents decided to throw him a lavish party in the shadow of the orchard trees. Cain was late, and arrived after everyone had gone home. Adam and Eve were asleep inside the farmhouse. Abel was cleaning up under the moonlight.

Cain stumbled over to his brother. The rays of moonlight splashed over Abel’s ardent curls and danced in his blue eyes. Abel rushed over to embrace his brother, but stopped mid-step when Cain began to vomit up blood. Afraid, Abel turned to the farmhouse.

‘Brother, I worry for you,’ were the last words to leave Abel’s lips. Cain, in an instant, pulled out his paring knife, which he had once used to cut red grapes from the vine, and gouged the blade through his brother’s chest. Abel was still small, and the blood that gushed out within a few moments was enough to black him out. Cain pulled out a cigarette and had a smoke over his brother’s body. He really wasn’t sure what had happened, but the fact that Abel seemed to no longer be present was a comfort.  He dragged his brother to the far reaches of the abandoned fields and drove back to the city, where he washed the blood from his palms and drove a needle into his arm.

Cain passed out at four and was visited by the Lord God. And God was not happy with Cain, for he had rid the earth of one of its purest shepherds. God punished Cain, and said he was a fugitive and vagabond from heaven.

Cain said, ‘What else is new.’

Adam called his son the next day and asked if he had seen Abel. Cain ignored the call and then texted back ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’

Cain stayed away from Little Eden while the investigation mounted. Cain watched the news at the bar and saw the screen flicker with images of his mother and father crying over his brother’s bloody body. Cain stopped shooting heroine and turned to liquor. He married a stripper and had a son.

His son was named Enoch, and he came out brash and screaming and remained that way for many years. Cain was unaware of this, however, as he had drunkenly stumbled into the middle of the highway one night and was plowed over by an oil truck.

Eve always knew it was Cain who had slain Abel, but the case turned cold after Cain died.

Eve didn’t know where she had gone wrong.

Adam and Eve weren’t young, but she became pregnant again. Adam sorely missed his sons, and was glad to have another, though he was getting old and frail. They named the boy Seth, and he was good, and brought honeysuckle boughs to his brother’s grave every Sunday.

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