In the Bible, woman is the temptress, but in her first dream it was him. He was only a teenager then, his face faintly remembered – thick frowning eyebrows, a sharp nose, tall and dark haired. Down a dusty sunny street, between tall buildings of golden stone, they walked, their arms around each other, silent as dreamers. Through an iron gate they found an orchard. They went barefoot in the soft green grass. The trees were hung with glossy apples, round and blood-red. Nightingales sang in their branches. He made her lie down in the pastures, and they tasted joy.
She never saw him again, in her waking life, or asleep. She would have known him at once. She found others, good enough, but also, in their way, weak, or cruel or stupid. She was as happy as she could be, without that joy.
Now he uncurls in her mind like a foetus, its fish gills broadening and flattening to a muscled, nippled chest. His face slowly morphs, developing handsome vulpine features. A joyful birth, insubstantial as a thought. He is a young werewolf with a mane of curly black hair, a sculpted satyr with marble shoulders, a noble lordling, a secret agent. An alpha-male of spectacular masculinity.
It is true love, and the fluting birdsong fills her mind, that only she can hear. Adam exists only in the electronic bytes of her computer, and yet he follows her around the city where he once lived. She glimpses him in shadows, or amongst the crowds, and then reminds herself:
‘He isn’t real.’
But when he isn’t there, she misses him. She wakes in the mornings and wishes he would make her late for work. She retires from life to her desk, claiming to be writing a novel, chasing her elusive darling. He faces the ultimate challenges, surviving when all appears lost. He is a light in the darkness, a leader of men. He fights battles, wins court cases, and kills traitors. Every night, as the darkness trills with melody, Adam’s limbs, exhausted from riding across continents, scarred from torture and lacerated by enemy swords, although he is never disfigured, slide amongst the heaving flesh of his paramours.
She is ill now, in mind and body. Something has broken, perhaps her heart, but she completes the story of the man who is all hers and who will never be hers. She edits, polishes and redrafts, giving him lines that are like poetry and rhetoric and brutish howls all at once. And she has finally accepted his bad habits. She taints his virtues with vice, gives him some grey hairs and a few home comforts.
Adam is complete now, the hero dapper in his dust-jacket, gilded and end-papered and preserved forever. In the last dream of her life, he brings her a red apple. She becomes ash and dust and memory, now that that he is real and tangible. The nightingale sings here no more.Adam-pixellated