babel blog


A And All Alephs
August 30, 2008, 11:46 pm
Filed under: story

This is part 1 of a story I wrote

The initial letters are the monogram of Albrecht Dürer, who has his own myspace these days!

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am lay stretched out sideways on the grass, thinking. Eyes scrunched shut, head to one side. His slightly protuberant tongue connected to his shoulder via a delicate string of saliva that sparkled in the sunlight. Hearing footsteps, he hurriedly wiped his mouth and adjusted his features into what he hoped was a more intelligent expression – eyes open and looking wistfully into the middle distance, lips held gently together.

-What are you doing?

-Thinking.

-Thinking! Eve’s tone could not have been more skeptical, -Thinking what?

Adam sighed, and the serene expression on his face changed into one of anxiety. He wasn’t much good at concealing emotions the way she did. He glanced at the container full of black, many legged creatures that lay on the grass beside him.

-It’s not easy you know. There’s millions of the little buggers. I think I’ve named about half of the creatures in this box here but they scurry about so much that I can never remember who’s who. Of course, they never remember either – they don’t seem to care.

Eve looked into the box, her nose wrinkling.

-Have you noticed that the more legs a creature has, the less intelligent it seems to be? I’ve been talking to one of those long, slithery creatures (he says you haven’t named him yet), he has no legs at all and he’s a lot brighter than you.

She said this last word – you – rather viciously for she perceived that Adam was not listening. His attention had returned to the box. He was trying to take out the creatures one by one, setting each one free as he gave it a name. It wasn’t working. Every time he tried to pick one up scores of others would swarm onto the back of his hairy hands, laughing and shouting gibberish, obliging him to shake his hand furiously and scatter them to the ground regardless of whether or not they had received their name. Eve touched him gently on the arm,

-Adam, weren’t you listening at all to the creator? she said softly. He completely missed the harmonics of irritation in her voice.

-Of course I was listening. That’s why I’m out here doing my job, naming things.

She tried increasing the volume

-You’re not supposed to be naming each and every one of them! “Each according to their kind”, remember! You need to work out a sensible taxonomy based on common features and take the nomenclature from there!

Adam blew the remaining creatures from his hand and shifted slightly away from her. He had already begun to suspect that Eve was more different from him than than he would have thought possible. Nomenclature? Taxonomy? He was not confident that he even knew what the words meant. In the days before Eve arrived things had been different. He and the creator had communicated infrequently and largely by means of telepathy – each able to place a fully formed thought into the other’s mind without the impedance of language. Eve, however, had taken a dim view of telepathy. It was, she argued silently, too nebulous, too full of ambiguities. She had depths in her mind she want to map more precisely and thoughts that required more than just thinking. The creator had indulged her (unwisely in Adam’s opinion) and allowed her to choose a language to be spoken throughout Paradise.

There were plenty to choose from. The creator favoured Hebrew but he had stood back and let Eve do the choosing. Adam liked the idea of adopting one of the sign languages, being attracted to its familiar soundlessness and vibrant physicality but Eve was insistent that nothing but a verbal means of expression would meet her desire. She spent days tasting syllables, experimenting with syntax and tone, producing strange articulations from the back of her throat, before finally announcing that the birds of the air, the creatures of the sea and ground and every other being in the earthly paradise would address one another in English.

And now, thought Adam resentfully, It’s me who has to use this ridiculous language to make up names for these ungrateful creatures. Even worse, if what Eve said were true, then he had spent several hours naming animals who did not require names. His head hurt, he covered his face with his hands. He could hear Eve in the background talking about sets and subsets, suggesting they enlist some of the more intelligent animals to help them out, but he retreated choosing instead to listen to the sound of the breeze in the trees overhead follow his own private thoughts.

In the beginning, when he had been the only human, he had watched with wide-eyed curiosity as the other creatures had sex. What, he wondered, could be the motivation for the lengths these animals went to to connect with each other in this strange way? He had made it his business to observe as much as he could in an effort to find out more.  He delighted in the endless variations he encountered and soon his own body began to mirror some of the excitement and anticipation he sensed from the creatures he observed. It was during one of these vigils that the creator happened to pass by and had muttered -hmm, perhaps it is not good for man to be alone. Adam had not grasped the implication of this but the next morning he had woken to find Eve sleeping beside him.

He stared. She was like him in a way that none of the other creatures was, and yet again she was different. She was smaller than him with skin and hair a shade or two lighter. She had a pair of seemingly swollen breasts in contrast to his own flat chest and, most intriguingly, she had no penis – just a small triangle of squiggly, black hair. Adam held his breath and moved as close as he could without touching her. He gazed in admiration, in the whole of Paradise he had never seen anything more beautiful. Eve opened her eyes and reciprocated his gaze. Adam suddenly understood the frenetic desire he had witnessed in the animals. He could sense her mind; much clearer and sharper than those of the animals, less distant than that of the creator and full of the same desires as his. After they fucked for that first time he held her tightly and cried. The first tears in Paradise. But now, but now he could not recapture the intensity of those early days. Again he blamed language. Eve wasn’t simply content to have sex these days, she wanted to talk about it, to talk during it. It was beyond his comprehension that such an instinctive behaviour could or should be talked about, analysed at an intellectual level. He sighed and recalled himself to the present. Eve had gone.

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1 Comment so far
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Wow… all these years I had no idea you were such a great writer!

Comment by Ms. Wakame




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