By Zoe G
I called her Eden and memories of her paradise haunt me still. I find no solace from her in the darkness of sleep. Like a siren’s call, luring me from the comfort of my past life, I can still hear her voice.
I met Eden on the rooftop of my apartment building. Our first connection was our shared taking of the view of the city, with all its distant traffic and faded colors. I was immediately drawn to her, the way her nimble fingers held a cigarette and her intoxicating eyes. I will never forget those eyes; I felt drunk every time she looked at me.
Eden began our relationship. She turned to me and offered her cigarette. I declined, but the significance of our first interaction being the offer of a slow death does not pass me all this time later. I found myself drawn back to the rooftop the following day. This became our routine until she finally spoke.
“Who are you?”
“I am a poet. I have always lived in this city. I think it looks most beautiful at dusk. That is why I am on this rooftop with you.”
Eden failed to reply. I asked her to visit my apartment and gave her my room and floor number. To this, she peered out over the railing, only looking at me when I walked away. While waiting for her, I opened my notebook. My latest piece featured an assortment of notes in the margins and half the piece crossed out. My recent difficulties with a lack of inspiration seemed to fade as Eden entered my life. I wrote until I heard a knock at the door.
Eden was comfortable right away. I gestured as I showed her my apartment. Interrupting me, she said, “I have read your poetry. I was disappointed to learn that Paradise would not be published. I think that is your best work”.
I thought that my ears had deceived me when I heard Eden say that. I felt a smirk would have matched those words better, but she only gave me a polite smile. To this day, her smile stalks me when I write. Now, as I write, I must reassure myself that no one is in the room with me, especially not her. I did not ask her how she knew of Paradise; I only asked her to leave. She did.
I did not see Eden for some time. I was still overtaken with the urge to venture onto the rooftop whenever I passed the staircase, but I willed myself to refuse. Eventually, the urge for the rooftop faded and I believed I was free. A new urge came, this time stronger and refusing to let go. The urge to claim her for myself, to retake and unhook myself from her grasp. I would become the specter in her life.
Alas, Eden maintained her power. When she knocked on my door, I let her in. We did not speak the entire time. I gave her a cup of tea, hoping she would understand it as a gesture of submission and leave me alone. She decided to stay the night, though how much choice I had in the matter was little. I slept with a knife under my pillow.
I dreamt of Eden that night. I dreamt I had antlers and she had a rifle. To dream of the deer and the hunter should have been a sign to stop this arrangement, but my desire for her grew too great and I continued.
The next morning, I gathered the courage to ask Eden how she knew of Paradise. I noticed the glimmer of a blade behind her back. Despite not knowing each others’ names, we communicated through words unspoken. She put the knife she took from my kitchen onto the coffee table and I did the same. She gestures to my desk where my notebook sat, pages fluttering from the open windows’ gentle breeze.
Eden follows my eyes as I gaze at the open notebook. I invite her back up to the rooftop. She lights her cigarette and offers it to me. This time, I accepted. Notebook in hand, I held the flame to the pages and watched as they erupted in a symphony of crackling heat. Her gaze does not change as she begins to exit the rooftop. I faintly heard Eden’s footsteps echo in the stairwell. I watched over the railing as she walked away, disappearing from my sight and joining the rest of the city.
The poet cannot escape the poem embodied. If written well, the poem is experienced once,
fully and wholly, then haunts for eternity. With any other topic, I grapple with frustration as words fail me. With Eden, I can write for eternity, write her into existence. My forbidden fruit, my forever muse. I failed to escape Eden. If she did not maintain her hold on me, why would I call her Paradise?
About the Author
Zoe G. is a junior attending El Camino High School.