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So Eden Sank To Grief

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When you wake, you don’t remember where you are but your body is warm and rested. You look around the room, trying to get some clue of your surroundings. There’s a lacy black bra on the floor. It’s not yours. Images from the last 24 hours tumble into your thoughts all at once and you struggle to sort them.

Hospital. Driving. Emmanuel.

No… not Emmanuel.

Meg.

You scramble up in the strange bed, pulling the sheets around your naked body.

Meg. Oh.

Right. You said that a lot last night, didn’t you?

The contrast of her long dark hair against the pale skin of your stomach.

Her mouth. Your mouth. Everywhere.

Everywhere.

You idly wonder if last night counts as losing your virginity again and you almost laugh out loud. Because if so, it was considerably more fun than Eric Denley in his mom’s minivan.

It’s so quiet in this apartment now; is she even still here? You strain to hear anything, until at last, there’s the rustle of pages being turned, coming from the next room. Your body floods with relief and… something else. What if she wants to do it again? you think. Wait... what if I want to do it again?

“M-Meg?” You hear the padding of her small feet on the living room floor. She appears in the doorway, hair undone and falling over her shoulders. She’s holding the clothes you were wearing yesterday. Under her threadbare t-shirt, you can see the outline of her full breasts and you remember: her skin is milky white with only a pale blue hint of the veins underneath, with rosy nipples that harden at your touch and under your tongue.

You can feel your face going pink but Meg either doesn’t notice or doesn’t care. She sets your clothes down on a chair and sits on the bed next to you.

“Hi,” she says with a smirk.  She leans in and in an instant, you’re yielding under her mouth. Her tongue, flickering against yours, tastes of coffee, bitter and burnt. You feel your breath hitch in your throat as everything from last night rushes back. Her hands on your head guide you down and you thrust your tongue into her and it’s sharp and salty, like the tang of sea air.

You kiss her back with force and your hand slips out to cup her breast through the shirt. Your thumb sweeps over her nipple, hard as the pit of a cherry, and her laugh is deep and soft. She pulls away and smiles, brushing a strand of hair from your eyes.

“I think there’s still some coffee left,” she says. “Do you want it?”

Even the idea of coffee makes your stomach curdle. You shake your head with a grimace. Too much liquor last night.

Meg narrows her eyes, studying you for a moment. Then she nods almost imperceptibly, like she’s just remembered something.

“Well, today’s my day off, so let me know when you’re ready for me to take you back to your car,” Meg says. There’s an icy note in her voice.  

“Oh… yes, of course” you say. Your car. Another 14-hour drive, back home. Home. Your house, empty again. Your body goes cold. “I’ll just… get dressed and we can go.”

Her mouth is a hard line as she nods curtly. She closes the door behind her as she leaves the room. You’re unsure why Meg is angry and even less sure if you actually want to know. You scramble into your clothes as quickly as you can. Were you too eager?

You find a hair tie in the pocket of your jeans and use it to pull your hair out of the way. You pass a hand over your face, hoping to sweep away any last trace of sleep, then open the bedroom door slowly. Meg is sitting on the couch, lacing up her heavy boots.

“Are, um, are my shoes out here?” you ask. You cringe at the timidity in your voice. Meg reaches under the coffee table, grabs your flats, and with a flick of the wrist, sends them skittering across the wood floor to you. You step into the shoes and spend a minute looking at them, not knowing where else to look.

Finally, you draw a deep breath and ask, “Did I… do something?” You stop yourself before adding because if I did, I’m sorry.

Meg stops tying her boots and her dark eyes sweep up the length of your body before meeting your face. Her thin eyebrows draw together.

“You really don’t know, do you?” she says.

You think about the last few hours, looking for any clue, but you come up empty. “No, I don’t.”

She scoffs. “Come on,” she says. She grabs her keys off a small table and opens the front door.

The drive back to the hospital seems longer than it did last night, an endless stretch of unfinished housing developments and strip malls. Meg pulls off the highway and turns down a long service road. The mental hospital rises over the crest of a hill and suddenly there’s a vise around your chest.

You force yourself not to think he’s in there somewhere because he isn’t. Not any more. His body is still there. Still living, still breathing. The same body that shared your bed, the body you know every contour and sinew of, but not him. Whatever Emmanuel is—or was—is gone.

Meg turns the ignition off, puts her hands back on the wheel.

“Do you want to go in to say goodbye?” she asks.

You shake your head no, your eyes never leaving the building.

“Okay. Do you want me to tell him you’re pregnant?” she asks. Her knuckles are white on the wheel.

You turn to look at her.

“Hi, I’m Meg. I’m… a nurse,” she says, arching an eyebrow. “I can tell.” Her mouth is smiling but her eyes are glittering with fury.

“That’s not… I can’t. I tried. For years. And I can’t.”

She snorts. “Really? You were fucking a guy with magical healing powers and what? You just thought it wouldn’t affect you?”

“I… no. No.” Your laugh is high-pitched and edging towards hysteria.

“I’m just saying, you probably want to get that taken care of before it’s too late,” Meg says. You fumble with the handle of the car door, frantic to escape. She seizes your arm. Her grip is like iron. “Listen to me, the other angels, they’re not like him, okay? They’re dicks. And your... baby is an abomination to them. They’ll find you and they’ll kill you. Both of you.” She jabs a finger toward your still-flat belly to emphasize her point.

You wrench your arm free and fling the car door open at last.

When you jam your keys into the ignition and throw the car into gear, you instinctively check your rear-view mirror. As you peel out of the parking lot, the last thing you see is Meg, standing next to her car, watching you drive away.