The Paradise is small and spherical in shape. There are plants with large flowers. The petals of the flowers are suggestive of flesh. There is a narrow river with clear water. Two men live inside the Paradise. They live alone. They eat the flowers that look like flesh. They drink water from the clear river. Both men are naked. They have sex often and in different ways. Sometimes, the men rub their cocks together until they ejaculate. At other times, one man will put his cock inside the other and rub until both men ejaculate. After sex, the two men walk the Paradise. They talk about what they see: the flowers, the clear river, the smallness of the world. One day a god comes to the Paradise. The god looks something like a tree, but not exactly. There are branches, yes. And there is a trunk with bark. There are no apples or fruits of any kind. The two men look at the god. The god looks back at the two men. Then the god departs. The two men have sex again. This time, it’s different. Not worse. Just different. After sex, they walk around the Paradise. They walk for a long time before either of them speaks. One of the men finally pauses near the narrow river and says, “What if I make up a story for you?” The other man doesn’t answer at first. He wonders what kind of story it might be. He wonders if he’s ever heard a story before. He gazes at the clear river and the flowers. Then he looks at the other man and notices, for the first time, that the man has brown hair and dark eyes. He thinks about the smallness of their world. Then he feels an emotion he can’t quite understand. It’s something like confusion, but not exactly. Finally, he says, “All right. Go ahead. Tell your story.” He can’t help himself.
Adam McOmber is the author of This New and Poisonous Air: Stories (BOA Editions 2011), The White Forest: A Novel (Simon and Schuster 2012) and My House Gathers Desires (BOA Editions 2017). His work has appeared recently in Conjunctions, Kenyon Review and Fairy Tale Review. He teaches in the MFA Program at Vermont College of Fine Arts.