I was sitting on a rock by the edge of the sea, looking up at the moon and howling in defeat. Neither of us knew where we would go next. We sure as hell couldn’t stay there, though. The voices in the sky had grown louder, harsher. We couldn’t keep them at bay much longer.
“If I cross the line between good and evil, will you tell me?” His green eyes glowed like a snake.
“Ha-ha-ha-ha.” My dry laugh rose up into the night sky and echoed off of the moon, gliding back to my yellow dress and shattered against the soft cotton. Askr had been talking about peacocks and bees- living things. I couldn’t figure out how good and evil fit into the equation. I knew I’d heard of those words somewhere, though. I looked them up in the dictionary, but there was only a blank space where the definition should have been.
Someday we might understand. We would buy some big, white supers to house our bees, one queen. Set it all in a field of clover. Eat honey for sixty years then die of diabetes. But here we were now, in the beginning, before the bees. No idea where to turn for the answers to our questions. Such as: how to separate our whites from our colors? Should we wash our delicates separately? I stared at the big, hungry machine and collapsed to the ground in a heap of despair. Why couldn’t I hear the divine commands of the laundry gods? Had I gone deaf?
My green-eyed snake-man was digging his fingernails across his yellowing skin. We jumped into his ship.
“Where are we going?”
“To a land where evil doesn’t exist.”
“How will we know?”
“Embla, you just need to trust me for once.” I clasped his face with my hands and let it fall into my lap. I pushed his head into my bosom. He spit up yellow teeth as he cried on the edge of my gown.
“I’m falling apart! There are my kidneys by the sails! There’s my tongue on the hull!” He was trembling; I didn’t know what to say.
“I’m not good at puzzles- I can’t put you together again.” I’d been working on the same jigsaw puzzle since I was three years old. It was a picture of twelve chubby children with gap-toothed smiles. I still hadn’t finished it.
One day we would own peacocks and their tails would be our one, solid truth. We would stand before them and cry blue, green and purple tears. We would kneel and pray to the peacocks. Peahens would be our saints and baby peafowl, bishops. We’d play chess with them, but they’d keep moving and we would have to start over again, and again.
“If I move my hand to your leg, will you feel it?”
“If I hold a knife between my teeth and fall upon your leg will you flinch?” His reasoning was becoming too abstract for me.
“Man up! Stop muttering nonsense!” I couldn’t cease speaking with exclamation points. They would fall from my tongue and drift to the ground like orange oak leaves. I’d pick them up and kiss them and put them in my pockets.
Now, Evil was a man who lived in Dallas. He was there when they shot JFK. He was also there when the ticking time bomb left no one to tell the true story. Evil had yellow eyes and a harsh, grating laugh. Nobody liked it when he laughed. Good was Evil’s twin. He went to Washington to get an education when they were eighteen and never saw his brother again. They would show up on our doorstep, never the same day. They’d come in and eat dinner- eggplant parmesan, veal. All we wanted by the time we’d grown old was to be able to tell the difference between those skinny, toothless twins.
We’d been at sea for thirty years. Our bearing was southwest.
“I’ll never be strong again. How will you find me attractive?” Askr was twitching on the hardwood deck.
“I like vulnerable men.” I’d cut his hair and it wasn’t growing back. He’d started to bald. He drank scotch by the gallon and ran his hands over his empty head. I’d drink orange juice and we’d kiss, lips parted, tongues lapping at the edge of the boat. In the water we swam into each other and reached a final agreement. At last we could understand so much more. Good was even more than a peacock tail! Evil was far worse than an empty washing machine! Even diabetes didn’t faze us. We just kept dreaming and loving and swimming without any clothes. Even when our limbs began to fall off, I knew exactly where to put them back on. I used a glue stick and we made a collage of ourselves.