by Susan Holcomb

The important thing to know about the Garden of Eden is that Adam is offstage during the main action. I’m talking about the Tree of Knowledge incident. Present: Eve, the Serpent, and the Tree. Adam was irrelevant to the climax of the story. This is why men are still so easily made insecure today.

The important thing to know about insecurity is it speaks to a secret wound. My younger brother always felt left out of what he perceived as my amazing life. When I left him playing Duck Hunt to go ride bikes with my friends, he wrote a song called “Jenny Likes Girls Better Than Boys.” We don’t speak now, but he did end up becoming a musician.

The important thing to know about music is it’s not for everyone.

The important thing to know about speaking is you will only ever say one-tenth of what you mean. In fact you’ll be lucky even to say one-tenth, lucky not to end up saying the opposite. Like when your brother takes all the heads off your Barbies and buries them in the yard, you might say: I hate you! When you really mean: Why did you do that? Why did you destroy the things I love?

The important thing to know about Barbie heads is that once they have been buried, they have a way of coming back. Next spring they will start to push out of the soil like turnips, their eyes all full of dirt, having been to subterranean places to look at all the things unseen. Not gifted with the power of speech, they cannot tell you what they now know, but at least they never say things they don’t mean. You will gather the heads in an old quilt and stuff the bundle in your closet, until finally your mother finds them and says the heads are too difficult to clean, too dirty now for you to reunite them with their bodies. Then she will take the heads and throw them all away. From dust they came, to dust…

Susan Holcomb holds an MFA in writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and studied for a PhD in physics at Cornell. Her writing has been or will soon be published in the Southern Indiana Review, The Boston Globe, Crab Creek Review, and elsewhere. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and newborn daughter.


Photography by: Tapio Haaja