Danielle McLoughlin
Donoughmore, Co. Cork, Ireland

“In the Beginning”

In the beginning, she didn’t even slow down, just drove on past.
After a few weeks, she grew brave. She would roll down the car window when passing the house and inhale the scent of honeysuckle from their garden.
Then she began to stop. An apple tree overhung the pavement and she would park in its shadows and watch another woman peg his shirts to the line.
One Friday – after dinner but before sex - Adam took a call on his mobile. He paced the floor of Evie’s flat, frowning.

‘Trouble in Paradise?’ Evie said, when he hung up.
‘Lucy thinks she’s being watched.’
‘That’s crazy.’
‘I know.’ He rolled his eyes.
At night, tiny snake-like thoughts slithered through her head. They flicked little forked tongues and shaped themselves into words like
love and babies. She began to leave things behind. A breath at first. Then a hair. Slivers of skin. A drop of blood. Once she threw a book he had given her over the wall, watched the wind turn the pages.
‘We have a good time, Evie. What more do you want?’
The bark was cool against her skin. She was almost asleep when Adam rang.
‘Mind if we cancel tonight?’ he said.
‘Why?’
‘Lucy’s having a breakdown. She thinks there’s a naked woman in our apple tree.’
Evie waved down at Lucy. Then she reached for an apple and bit it, let the juice drip down her chin and breasts onto the grass below.

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