by Loren Eaton
The book looked ancient, with crumbling spine and yellowed-vellum pages. In it, Jonathan read how unspeakable words held matter together, how one could use them to shift the elements. To create.
That he’d found such knowledge shoved in a box of garage-sale paperbacks didn’t surprise him. Margaret was always careless, banal, frumpy. She disappointed him.
He’d fix that. He’d make himself a new mate.
The richest soil in their yard lay beneath Margaret’s prized tulips. Jonathan spaded them up. He pressed dark loam into a feminine form, wrote arcana across its forehead—
—and creation’s breath seemed to catch.
A woman lay before him. But her waist was thick, breasts heavy, features flat. Wrong, all wrong. She opened her mouth to speak, and Jonathan smeared the mark from her brow, knowing as she fell to dirt that only he could see its luminous lettering.
He fashioned another from air sweetened by smashing a bottle of Margaret’s Chanel, and one more from her souvenir flask of Dead Sea water. The former proved thin and flighty, the latter shapeless and slow. He consigned them to oblivion with a touch of his hand.
Jonathan was pouring over the book when a key rasped in the front door. Margaret, home early, understanding writ on her face.
“You were my best one,” she shrieked, “and you disappoint me like this?”
He reached out to ward her off.
Her fingers brushed his brow.
Even as darkness rose, he saw his hand begin to curl away into flame.