Eve & Adam Page 1

– 1 –

I am thinking of an apple when the streetcar hits and my leg severs and my ribs crumble and my arm is no longer an arm but something unrecognizable, wet and red.

An apple. It was in a vendor’s stall at the farmers’ market off Powell. I’d noticed it because it was so weirdly out of place, a defiant crimson McIntosh in an army of dull green Granny Smiths.

When you die—and I realize this as I hurtle through the air like a wounded bird—you should be thinking about love. If not love, at the very least you should be counting up your sins or wondering why you didn’t cross at the light.

But you should not be thinking about an apple.

I register the brakes screeching and the horrified cries before I hit the pavement. I listen as my bones splinter and shatter. It’s not an unpleasant sound, more delicate than I would have imagined. It reminds me of the bamboo wind chimes on our patio.

A thicket of legs encircles me. Between a bike messenger’s ropy calves I can just make out the 30% OFF TODAY ONLY sign at Lady Foot Locker.

I should be thinking about love right now—not apples, and certainly not a new pair of Nikes—and then I stop thinking altogether because I am too busy screaming.

*   *   *

I open my eyes and the light is blinding. I know I must be dead because in the movies there’s always a tunnel of brilliant light before someone croaks.

“Evening? Stay with us, girl. Evening? Cool name. Look at me, Evening. You’re in the hospital. Who should we call?”

The pain slams me down, and I realize I’m not dead after all, although I really wish I could be because maybe then I could breathe instead of scream.

“Evening? You go by Eve or Evening?”

Something white smeared in red hovers above me like a cloud at sunset. It pokes and prods and mutters. There’s another, then another. They are grim but determined, these clouds. They talk in fragments. Pieces, like I am in pieces. Vitals. Prep. Notify. Permission. Bad.

“Evening? Who should we call?”

“Check her phone. Who’s got her damn cell?”

“They couldn’t find it. Just her school ID.”

“What’s your mom’s name, hon? Or your dad’s?”

“My dad is dead,” I say, but it comes out in ear-splitting moans, a song I didn’t know I could sing. It’s funny, really, because I cannot remotely carry a tune. A C+ in Beginning Women’s Chorus—and that was totally a pity grade—but here I am, singing my heart out.

Dead would be so good right now. My dad and me, just us, not this.

OR 2’s ready. No time. Now now now.

I’m pinned flat like a lab specimen, and yet I’m moving, flying past the red and white clouds. I didn’t know I could fly. So many things I know this afternoon that I didn’t know this morning.

“Evening? Eve? Give me a name, hon.”

I try to go back to the morning, before I knew that clouds could talk, before I knew a stranger could retrieve the dripping stump of your own leg.

What do I do with it? he’d asked.

“My mother’s Terra Spiker,” I sing.

The clouds are silent for a moment, and then I fly from the room of bright light.

– 2 –

I awaken to an argument. The man is simmering, the woman on full boil.

They’re out of my view, behind an ugly green curtain. I try to do what I always do when my parents fight, adjust my earbuds and crank the volume to brain-numb, but something is wrong. My right arm is not obeying me, and when I touch my ear with my left hand, I discover a thick gauze headband. I’ve sprouted long tubes from my arms and my nose.

“She’s my daughter,” the woman says, “and if I say she’s leaving, she’s leaving.”

“Please, listen to me. She’s going to be your one-legged daughter if you take her out of here.”

The man is pleading, and I realize he’s not my dad because (a) my dad was never a pleader—more of a pouter, really; and (b) he’s dead.

“I have superior facilities, the best medical staff money can buy.” The woman punctuates this with a dramatic exhalation. It’s my mother’s trademark sigh.

“She’s in critical condition in the ICU after a fourteen-hour surgery. There’s every chance she’s going to lose that leg, and you want to move her? Because … what? It’s more convenient? Your sheets have a higher thread count? What exactly?”

I feel pretty okay, sort of floaty and disconnected, but this man, who I’ve decided must be a doctor, sounds a little freaked out about my leg, which, as it happens, doesn’t seem to be behaving any better than my arm.

I should probably reassure him, get my mother off his case—when she’s like this it’s best to retreat and regroup—but the tube stuck down my throat makes that impossible.

“I will not release this patient,” the doctor says, “under any circumstances.”

Silence. My mother is the god of painful pauses.

“Do you know,” she finally asks, “what the new hospital wing is called, Doctor?”

More silence. The contraptions I’m tethered to chirp contentedly.

“That would be the Spiker Neurogenetics Pavilion,” the doctor finally says, and suddenly he sounds defeated, or maybe he’s missing his tee time.

“I have an ambulance waiting outside,” my mother says. Check and mate. “I trust you’ll expedite the paperwork.”