Adam Ash

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Thursday, June 08, 2006



“Harder,” she said, and he obliged, but when it was over, he told her. He wasn’t sure why he told her, but he wanted to make a crack in her, shock the “harder” out of her with a tale of suffering to match whatever she was suffering from.

So he told Eve about the last conversation he had with his wife. She trapped in the burning World Trade Center, and he trapped on his cell phone down below. He told her what he had said, and what Sarah had said, and what had happened that day, a day that lived like an eternal flame inside him, burning with a living, alive, abundant rage.

“Adam, know that I love you,” Sarah had said. “I love you with all my heart.”

“What’s happening up there, Sarah?” he asked.

“It’s very hot. We’re standing on our desks, because the floor burns our shoes. I think I’m going to be burned alive.”

“Sarah, my God.”

He felt so helpless. Later would come the anger. The anger that had never left him. The anger that stayed with him through all his changes, through being born again, through becoming a Creationist, through leading the Reformation in the academy.

“I love you, Adam.”

“I wish I was with you, Sarah. I wish I could die with you.”

“Don’t wish this for yourself, Adam. It’s horrible. We’re all standing together here, and there’s nothing we can do to help each other. We’re together, but we’re all alone, each with our own death approaching.”

“Don’t say that, Sarah. Maybe something will happen.”

“It’s hopeless, Adam.”

“What was that sound?”

“The window. It broke. There’s air. It’s getting hotter. I think the air is helping the flames. Ohmigod.”


“Jimmy just jumped out of the window. People are leaving their desks and running with burning feet to the window.”

“Sarah, I love you.”

“I’m going to run to the window, too, Adam.”

He heard her footsteps and her breath as she ran.

“I’m at the window,” she said. “The flames are coming through the floor.”

“What are you going to do?”

“I don’t want to be burned alive. It’s a long way down. I think I see people down below.”

He saw a body come down, falling faster the closer it came to the ground. It took a number of seconds. He heard the sound of the body strike the concrete.

“Sarah, my darling, I will love you forever.”

“I love you, too, Adam. It’s getting very hot. The flames are right behind us.”

“Oh, Sarah.”

“I’m going to jump, Adam. Goodbye, I love you.”

“I love you.”

He heard a rush, and realized it was air.

“I’m falling, Adam.”

He thought her voice was at last free of fear. Then their contact was broken. She must have reached the concrete. Anguish bit so hard into him he wanted to hurt himself to out-hurt the pain. Then it flipped, from the hurt and the pain and the sadness and the grief to something else, something hard and frozen and burning: anger, flames of it: a rage that convulsed and possessed and wanted to crush those who had done this to his love.

The rage he still carried.

He looked at Eve, at her strangely sex-contused face. They were lying in bed, after one of their “harder, Adam” sessions.

Eve looked at Adam as though he had become a stranger to her. What was she supposed to say to him? This man had suffered something terrible. Something he had not sought. Something he had no control over, like she had control over what she had done. He had been innocent. She was not. She knew she would be punished for this, as she was already punishing herself. She had screwed up the one chance she had to marry Ezra and be vaulted into the higher reaches of the Bureau of Behavior Design and Management, and all she could think to do was to have sex with Adam, to see if she could find the angel, but she couldn’t -- the connection was broken, she had been abandoned by God.

Suddenly Adam had an idea. A way to assert himself. To dominate Eve completely. Should he try it now? No, he’d get her later, at an even weaker, more vulnerable moment, helpless before his cruelty. He smiled inwardly, even as his face masked his smile under the pain of his revelation to her. It was a perfect way to break her, because it was sexual. Just you wait, girl. I’ll make you my little Christian handmaiden yet.


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