In the beginning god was lonely and so was I.
In the beginning god separated the light from the darkness except for brief moments at dawn and dusk when god let them remember each other. Those were my favorite times of day.
In the beginning the earth was an ocean of all things and from all things god made Peter.
As the land grew and fauna sprouted under Peter’s steps, I watched him with a new feeling of irritation. It was like an itch on the inside of my skull.
My friend Nicolas and I were positioned in a palm tree as coconuts, exalting god by existing in different forms as angels are meant to do. I was sturdy and brown and ready to drop. Nicolas, still green, was trying to convince me that the newcomers weren’t ‘so bad.’ Badness was not the problem, I tried to explain, but Nicolas never did know what I was getting at.
We watched Peter wander around looking for purpose as if he was looking for misplaced keys to a car that didn’t exist yet. He looked under freshly erected mountains and on the soft bottoms of riverbeds. He dissected frogs and put them back together again. Once, when Nicolas was the foam of the sea and I was a floating seagull, he threw a stone at me just to see what I would do.
God must have taken notice of Peter’s loitering because then god made her. Her name was Ivy and she often inspected herself and her surroundings. She would lift up her breasts and squeeze them together. She would sit in the water for hours just to see how her skin would wrinkle or she might try to speak to squirrels by popping her knuckles. She was the first true poet of biology.
I remember swimming in the ocean with her at night. She wanted to name the white fish I was possessing ‘water-moth’ and Peter wanted to never come near me.
“Moth is too delicate. That is a monster,” Peter said from the shore.
“I just think they have a graceful way of nuzzling against me and the circles are kinda hypnotic, like a moth. You know what I mean?”
From where I swam, it seemed that Peter did know what she meant but also that he did not know what she really meant. Ivy’s mind was a web that she weaved and destroyed over and over and Peter’s mind was like a hole in the ground big enough for 1 or 2 seeds. He was terrified that he wasn’t enough for Ivy’s voracious appetite, and he was equally terrified that he would be just enough for her to eat him alive. He wasn’t stupid, he was safe.
Eventually they settled for the sweet ssshhh and the hard k of shark.
They seemed to hardly deserve my attention then–Ivy was silly and Peter was awkward and I was convinced my beloved god could do better. Then there was the day when Nicolas and I were rocks, dutifully singing our praises to god by slowly eroding, when Ivy showed up, and with a childish delight, sat on top of me, pressing herself against the cold stone. “Somehow,” she said aloud, “everything in paradise seems new, as if it were all created in a manner of days, but at the same time I sense that some things are significantly less new than others.” She straddled me, inspecting my lines and cracks and color. “This,” she said stroking her finger against me, “is a rock of ages.”
My pace of erosion suddenly quickened. Fish in my tide pools were fossilized mid-swim.
My surface softened into chalk.
“Oh god.” I said automatically, not knowing if I was calling out to the god I loved or discovering a new one.
Ivy lifted her chalky hands to her face, observing the powder trapped in the love line of her palm. With her pointer finger she drew chalk circles around her eyes and one encircling her round belly. She drew lines and arrows down her legs and arms which gave the impression that she would run quickly off into the distance at any moment, which she did, eager to tell Peter about this experience of being a creator. As she ran she sang out new words: trace, shape, negative space, paint.
I ceased my possession of the rock and took over the nearest creature, a snake, which had been sunbathing on the rocks.
“Oh my god.”
Nicolas, who had switched over to a cricket, chirped his praises, unchanged by what had just happened right in front of him.
I was overtaken, rearranged by feelings I did not yet understand. I wanted to possess Ivy the way I possessed rocks and sharks and coconuts and birds, but not for the purpose of singing some programmed hymnal but to run as she ran and paint as she painted and sigh as she sighed. I wanted to possess Peter and Nicolas. I wanted to slither into the deepest corners of their individuality and make a home inside them.
“Nicolasss, friend, come clossser.”
I struck as fast as lightning.
I became a plump green snake, as long as Peter was tall. I coiled around tree branches and tasted the air with my split tongue. This hunger was outside of my programming and outside of paradise. It was all mine. I ate dragonflies as they darted, savored the slipperiness of a frog on its way down, I ate other snakes. I could taste, I swear, the coding of their design and their histories and their futures, where they’d been and what they would have done. I loved them in this way, in bites and swallows.
I found Ivy and Peter by a still pond next to The Tree of Up and Down. The tree existed in both directions, one lush end reaching towards heaven, the forbidden fruit of it bright and heavy with juice, and another tree mirroring it, growing into the earth. Peter and Ivy were lying on their stomachs looking into the ground, watching the tree below grow and wilt and rot on repeat. I listened in as I continued to gorge myself on every little thing that crossed my path.
“You didn’t notice the white circles and lines on my body.”
“Looks messy. What are they for?”
She tried to recreate the moment of the chalk but words seemed to fail her.
“I made this. My body was one thing but then I made it into another thing. You know what I mean?”
I knew even then that my next move would determine my eternity. I saw it all quite clearly – the darkness of hell I would be banished to, this place without dawn or dusk. I saw god turning away like a scorned lover. I saw a whole race of Ivys and Peters struggling to remember this simple place. I saw that this insatiable hunger would be ours and it would be endless.
“I know what you mean,” I said, making my move.
I’ve replayed it a trillion times. Ivy’s face was still sticky with the flesh of the fruit when she noticed her reflection for the first time. She looked into the pond at the shimmering version of herself and that expression on her face was better than anything I had ever consumed or ever will. She was flushed, her eyes shifting from the hairs of her brow to the corners of her mouth. She frowned. She smiled. She shook. She aged. Peter saw this too and eagerly took his turn. He bit and his eyes rolled back.
Isabelle Correa is from Moses Lake, Washington and lives in Vietnam. Her fiction and poetry has appeared in Third Point Press, Word Riot, The Molotov Cocktail, Literary Orphans, and elsewhere. She is obsessed with George Saunders and feels very strongly that you should be as well.