My first memory, for a long time, was of me waking up in the middle of a forest, naked, having no idea how I got there, where I’d come from or who I was. There was a pain in my chest; it was faint, but very persistent. I could find no scar or wound, the pain was not unbearable, so I ignored it as best I could and started to explore my surroundings.
I was in a forest of fruit trees. The trees grew in no noticeable order, peaches, cherries, lemons, oranges and bananas all grew together, not in rows but in large clusters. As I continued to explore, I saw the same strange clusters with nut trees and even on the ground. Patches of pumpkins, eggplant, and potatoes grew right next to onions, peppers and beans.
All around, there were shallow streams that fed from a large, swiftly moving river. There were several natural caves that could be used for shelter and none of them too far from a water source. In the river itself, there were several species of edible fish, swimming slowly enough to be caught in my hands. I tested this theory by catching several slippery fish and letting them go. I could survive here with ease.
I am not sure how much time passed before I grew tired once again and sought out a cave to sleep in for the night. As I drifted off to sleep, it occurred to me that while I knew nothing about myself, I could name everything I came across. I knew that I was in a cave, and I knew that I was going to sleep and awake, though I could not remember having ever done either before. As my eyes grew heavy with the need for sleep, I finally gave in. In the morning, I would see if there were more than just fish alive in these woods.
I awoke painfully hungry. I had chosen a cave close to both fruit and nut trees. I went to the closest tree and shook free several pecans. I ate them quickly, followed by several gulps of cold stream water. I had killed the pain, but not the hunger. I would have to catch some fish…
… a blinding flash of pain took over my head. So intense was the pain that I could only see the color white. Almost as soon as it began, the sensation was just as suddenly all but gone. The pain had knocked me to my knees picked myself up from the ground, I saw something moving in a cluster of various berry bushes. I stood very still, not wanting to scare whatever it was away. I stood unmoving for a short time and finally I was rewarded for my patience. A small brown rabbit, and four tiny rabbits behind it, made a dash for the shelter of another cluster of bushes. My hands went to my breasts, which now ached for some reason. Babies. The very word made me smile while tears stung my eyes. Curious.
Still thinking of aching breasts and baby rabbits, I followed the same direction that I saw the animals go. I walked a long time in the same direction because I was hearing a sound that was so beautiful, I had to find the source. The further I walked, the fewer trees there were and more open fields of grass. Finally, the trees ended in a field of flowers of every kind. The smell was indescribable. It smelled liked everything at once. The sight was the beautiful. Hundreds of butterflies fluttered about and beyond the field was the source of the sound I’d followed. It was birds, thousands of them, all singing their own melody. They were perched in the branches of yet another forest. Their combined song rivaled any angel’s. I sat down in the flowers and listened for a long moment. As I sat there, several different creatures scampered by. Squirrels, mice, larger birds with no songs to sing, dogs, cats, even a sheep or two went by. I sat there and watched the creatures live their little animal lives. They ate and drank, fed their young, stalked their prey or ran from predators. As a pair of dogs chose me as audience to their mating, I felt the same ache in my breasts as when I saw the tiny rabbits. I was all alone. I was the only thing that looked like me and I was lonely.
I made my way back to the area with food, water and shelter, my home I guess, and almost immediately felt the urge to sleep. I was barely in the cave before I fell unconscious. When I awoke, I felt differently somehow. I did not know what it was but something was not as it had been before. My body looked the same, so the change wasn’t physical. Then it hit me. I knew more! I had a name for all of my body parts that I could not see, but was painfully aware of. I was painfully hungry again and I wanted meat. I knew now that I had to cook the fish. Yesterday, I would have devoured them right from the water, with no thought of cooking them. Now, I was aware that uncooked fish could make me sick. I also knew that if I got sick from the raw fish, which plants would make me better. I was now aware of poisons to myself and the animals. Overnight, I had somehow received a complete education in medicine. There was a lingering headache and I chewed some leaves, and soon the pain was mere memory.
My head filled with new information, I went in search of reeds to weave baskets, wood to build a fire, and clay for bowls and pots. I was apparently civilized now and no longer found a cave satisfactory. I started to build a shelter from wood and mud. After another ten nights in the caves, my house was done. I had formed benches from clay along the wall and woven a mat from soft, dry grasses to sleep on. I had shelves for my baskets and shelves for my pots and bowls.
I’d made a low clay table in the middle of the room and after spending my day exploring, gathering food or collecting materials, I would take a sharp stick and carve pictures into the table. Before long the table was covered with my picture stories and I started to draw on the walls of the caves, using flowers and rocks for colors.
It was around the time that I started drawing that I started to remember that again that I was the only thing like myself I had ever seen. It was also when I wondered why I knew the name of everything I saw but had nothing to call myself. Why did every creature have a mate but me? Why were the animals able to have babies and I wasn’t? I knew now that my breasts were meant to feed my young, but had no clue how I would ever have young.
“Why am I all alone?” I said aloud, looking up to the sky for some reason. “Where is my mate? Where are my young?”
No sooner than I spoke out loud, I felt compelled to sleep. I couldn’t have kept my eyes open if I tried. I fell asleep, right where I sat on the floor.
Awake again, I found myself on my mat and very hungry. I went to my shelf where I keep my food baskets, reaching for an apple and grabbing a dried husk instead. All of the food in my baskets were dried up or rotting. How long was I asleep?
I went outside to find more food and water and instantly forgot all about my hunger and thirst. I saw, not far from my door, another house. It was unfinished but nearly the same as my own. There was another like me! None of the animals had ever built a house, so I knew it was another like me.
I approached the house slowly and peeked inside. It was empty except for a low clay table and a large mound of clay along the wall where I had built the benches in my house. Small piles of weaving grasses, vines and leaves were piled in the corner carelessly, as if the collector was only gone to find more supplies. I quickly returned to my house and grabbed a pot and a basket. I gathered some nuts and collected some water and ran back inside my house to hide, suddenly afraid for the first time.
I heard when the other one returned; I risked a peek out of my door covering and saw only a pair of legs and arms carrying a large bundle of wood and dry grass. It was much more than I could have carried and I was strong. After so much time alone, I was now unable to leave my house to meet this new animal that walked on two legs like me. What if it was mean? What if it wanted to hurt me? Why had it built a house so close to mine? Where did it come from? Why didn’t it try to see who was in this house?
Not daring to make a fire and draw attention to myself, I sat and nibbled nuts in the dark and waited until I thought the other one was asleep to answer nature’s call. It was very dark in the area I used for this purpose but I knew it well. I finished relieving myself and ran back to my house as quietly as I could. I crawled over to my mat and it wasn’t there! I made my way over to my bench and found only a large mound of clay. I was in the wrong house.
“Please don’t leave.” A voice said to me, “I won’t hurt you.”
“Do you have fire? I need to see your face.” I heard flints scraping together and soon a tiny red glow burned in the pit on the floor. With no warning the fire flared up and I saw him then. His large brown eyes, black hair and beard, soft looking lips, and smooth brown skin like my own. He was larger than I was, and much taller when we stood face to face, but I was no longer afraid. He was like me. Larger, hairier and harder underneath the skin, but he was like me.
“I’m sorry if I scared you. They said you would sleep for several more days.”
“They? Who said that? Are they like us?”
“Not like us, no. they said you asked for me. Is that true?”
“No! I … yelled at the sky that I had no mate yesterday, then I fell asleep and now… you are here.”
“They made me for you. I am your mate.”
“Who made you?” I asked again.
“I have no name for them. They are the makers of all of this.” He explained, spreading his arms as wide as he could.
“I do not understand. What do I call you? I don’t even know what I am.”
“They told me that much. I am a man, you are a woman. We are mates. From me, will come your young.”
“Babies? You can give me babies?”
“Yes. They said we would know how before long. When we completely forget about them, we will know how to make babies. You seem to have already forgotten them.”
I had long forgotten them. I was only aware of having been alone for a very long time.
“Will you stay with me tonight?” I asked him. “At my house there is a soft mat for you and food.”
Without a word, he led the way to my house and we lit another fire. We ate a meal of fruit and roasted meat and went to bathe in the river together. We talked and laughed and cried until the sun was up again. I found I liked this Man much better than being alone.
Several days went by. We slept embracing each other each night. He told me stories about the makers, but remembered less each day. One morning, Man woke me by pressing his outer organs against my thigh and I pressed my buttocks against him in return. It was in this manner that we discovered how to mate. As he entered my body I experienced divine pain and burning pleasure.
“Oh, no. I forgot, I was supposed to tell you something before we forget everything. A warning.” He said.
“What was it?” I moaned into his mouth.
He whispered something in my ear as he moved deeper into me. I did not quite hear him, but it sounded like he said something about a snake.
© Shayla E. Price 2011. All Rights Reserved