EDEN

Toni Wi

My lover puts her arm around me as we lie on the soft, damp grass. “Where are we this time?” she asks.

I lean back on my elbows and check the panel on my watch, tapping the map icon to bring up a dusky blue hologram of our location. The rooms in the hotel show up as little squares spread out over three floors. We’re on the west wing, on the second floor. Our bodies together make a bright green dot. We are the only ones in the building.

“It’s the Eden room,” I say. My programmers still had to write the code for the interactive holograms, so all we see is a grassy meadow, stretching out on all sides.

She raises her head slightly to look around. “Fitting,” she says, before yawning, and placing her cheek flat against my stomach. I put my hand on her head on instinct, twine my fingers into her curls. I bring her here after the workers leave for the night. I could commission them to work through – the board advised it would slide the opening forward three months if I did. But I like having somewhere that’s just for us, even if only for a little while.

“Where do you want to go tomorrow night?” I ask.

She pokes an exploratory finger into my bellybutton. “Ancient Egypt,” she says, matter-of-fact.

“Sure thing,” I say, lying back down again. “I’ll take you anywhere you want to go. Anywhere in the world.”

“Anywhere except outside.”

I curl over, resting my head on my arms, my hands a pillow. I’ve created a little nest. She mimics me, drawing her knees up so they touch mine, our heads connected at the top. We make a circle on the grass. A light breeze, engineered to blow softly every thirty seconds, tickles the skin of our backs.

“It’s not safe outside,” I say. I trace the line of her forearm, down to the elbow then back up again.

“I know,” she says, in a far off voice. I can feel her hunching her shoulders, making herself smaller. I grip her arm, tightly at first, and then lighter as I remember my breathing exercises.

“Don’t go just yet,” I tell her, trying to keep my voice playful.

She meets my eye and I can see the glint of numbers, a flash of neon green before she blinks. Somewhere, on the other end of the line, she is writing me out of this story.

“Please,” I say. “Eve?”

“If this is Eden, then I’m not Eve,” she says with a laugh. “I’m the apple.”

She plants a kiss on my cheek before leaving, my fingers grasping at empty code.