Adam and Eve, flash fiction by Marcus Speh

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September 12, 2015 by RJ

1

Adam couldn’t help noticing the fear in her eyes even though it was concealed by an unusual set of props, which included: thick glasses, strong makeup heavy-handedly applied, and light brown hair that was styled to appear accidentally artistic if artistic was the right word, but Adam was fairly sure it was because she had mentioned art, artists and the world artists lived in or could live in if the world outside art would only make it a little easier for them to exist on their own terms…Adam lost his thread over contemplating the varied viewpoints representing ways of living. In any case, behind that curtain of creative persona, he assumed a rather unusually large amount of fear and it made him want to run away. Instead he proceeded along the path chosen by him earlier when he had offered her an immediate appointment after she had come to the door, quite against his habit, solely based on her opening sentence, which she had given him instead of the weak, flabby greeting that he was used to. His clients, he reckoned, were keen on appearing even more normal and mediocre because of the pretext of their sessions with him. She had said: My name’s Eve, I’m forty-five years old, I’ve never had sex, can you please help me. But once she sat down she had begun to speak of nothing but her desire to create, to make art, to paint, sculpt, cut things out, combine them, perform pieces, and so on. Any attempt on Adam’s side to get her back to that extraordinary opening sentence had been met with silence and with a smirk. Still, there was that undeniable fear in her eyes and there was his equally undeniable fame as the foremost sex therapist of his generation. He asked her what she was afraid of and she said: I’m afraid to die as a number, I’m afraid to die like a reed, like a forgotten cookie at the bottom of a box. By this time, her angst, wherever it came from, had already taken posession of him and he hoped she’d let him hold her hands or even crawl on her lap later on.

2

The man is brought into a dark room. The windows are covered by heavy curtains. It could be day or night or even a lightless time of day without hours, without anybody counting hours. There is a desk in one corner. Behind the desk sits a woman in a leather suit. She has long black hair and wears a lot of make up. when the guards have closed the doors, the man goes to the desk. There is no chair for him to sit. — So, says the man, why am I here? The woman doesn’t say anything. She opens a drawer, takes out a lighter and a pack of cigarettes and lights a cigarette without offering one to the man. This room, says he, proves nothing. She exhales. He inhales, almost as if he needed her to breathe. The man sits on the floor so that the woman can only see his head. I am more comfortable down here, he says. She nods, which he cannot see and continues to smoke. The telephone rings. The woman answers, but all she says is yes, and no and no and yes again. The man says: I like your voice. Thank god that I like your voice. The woman in the last room sounded like a saw. The woman chortles. And she looked like a nun, adds the man. That is interesting says the woman. No it isn’t says the man, I’m only passing the time until you tell me why I am here so that I can move on to the next stage of the game. No game, says the woman, a test. Okay, says the man, call it what you like, it feels like a bloody game. And you’re just another pawn. And so am I. It cannot be a game because there are no rules, says the woman. She stands up. Why dont you try the chair, she says. Sure, says the man, smiling for the first time since he entered. As he gets up and walks around the desk past her, he feels some of the power that Adam felt towards Eve. He stops standing very close to her. What if I actually sat down, he says. Would this be the end of the game? It’s not a game, she says. The man shrugs. I tell you what he says, I will sit down if you kiss me on the mouth. With or without tongue she says. With, he says, or it doesn’t count. She nods, leans over and does it. Longer, much longer than he had expected. In the end it is he who pulls back. Alright he says and wipes his mouth. You wiped your mouth, she says. Yes, he says and sits down. It was just a test, I wanted to test you. At that moment, the door opens, a hand with a gun appears as if created by the black background and shoots the man in the chair. His upper body falls forward on the desk. The woman extinguishes her cigarette on the man’s head. Not a game, she says and leaves.

3

It was a most memorable moment when…why do all my sentences begin that way? It strikes me as terribly…moralistic almost, as if I was trying to tell you what to think, feel and so on. Which is not, I think not, what I want. Or perhaps I begin this way because it gives structure to my inner chaos of mementos, of remembered shards, of a time when I witnessed Eve, experience everything not just as if for the first time but actually for the first time, when every one of those memorable moments cut like glass, or burnt like fire. This was just it: fire. I lit a cigarette with a match – I loathe the smell of gas – and I habitually held the match in my right hand waiting for it to burn down until it hurt while already inhaling. I would then blow my first cloud of fresh smoke and rub the burnt match to ash. Eve stared and said “again” in her heavy German accent. Okey, I said. I somehow knew she was talking about the match. Asking her wouldn’t have helped since she was unlikely to know the word. Do it, she said, do it. Okey, just give me a second, I said. Her impatience had the innocence of fire. As always the contrast between her childlike manner and her grown-up body confused and tickled my senses. Her dress had inevitably slid half down her shoulder and it was clear she didn’t care. The first woman didn’t have to prove anything, hide anything. I lit another match. This? I asked and held it up. Ja, Ja, she cried and held out her hand. Here, she pointed with her other hand. Alright, I said but it’s hot. The match was almost over. I dropped it in her palm. She took it like a man, in a way, and yet not at all. Her hand kept perfectly still when the flame of the match flickered one last time, went out and gave way to the glowing, smouldering state of fire that is so much more terrible because it looks like nothing, like bright red sauce on a stick perhaps and yet is so much hotter. Only her eyes, and then the skin around her eyes and then her face began to show a reaction to the pain she must have felt, a being who had not known any pain before. But I cannot describe it, not with words. I’d have to paint it on your face in fiery coals, I’d have to write it under your nails with needles. It was, I said it, most memorable, mostly inhuman, but memorable. Her face holding that expression, Eve did to the burnt match what she’d seen me do, and then she said: again, but with just ever so little more hesitation.

~~~

 

Marcus Speh is a German writer and author of Thank You For Your Sperm (MadHat Press, 2013). He lives in Berlin, blogs at marcusspeh.com and is on Twitter @marcus_speh.

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