Photo by Andrew Koerner

Turtle 15

This is probably about the best point in time to introduce Poe’s notebook.[1] It’s a bit tricky to decipher, as was Donovan’s, but it’s tricky in different ways. Donovan has sloppy handwriting that’s hard to transcribe, while Poe’s is neat and fairly easy to read.[2] The issue with Poe’s notebook is that, while Donovan helpfully laid everything out in nice, daily entries, possibly anticipating that someone like Turtle might someday need to read them, Poe’s entries are undated stream-of-consciousness ramblings. Sometimes she writes reflections on things that happened long ago. Sometimes she leaves chunks of paper blank, like she stopped writing something halfway through and intends to fill the rest in later. Sometimes a change in pen lets me know that she obviously has filled things in later. The result is less a recording of events and more of a random collection of thoughts that occasionally record events.

Of course, this also means that Poe usually wrote about more important things. Everything she says means something (at least to her), whereas Donovan’s journal is filled with a lot of “Nothing much happened today, but I’ll record everything anyway” entries between the wistful introspections that might end up becoming relevant.

I don’t know when exactly this selection was written, but it seems to fit here for reasons that are hopefully clear. So with that introduction out of the way, I present to you the first entry of Poe’s notebook.



Poe 1: Rotten Eden

I stood in a dead world before a Tree on a hill—a giant, dark Tree, stretching to the sky. This Tree had no Leaves, but it still bore fruit: apples the color of blood. I stepped closer, simultaneously drawn and repulsed by the fruit, wishing for nothing but to taste it but knowing it was forbidden to me.

“Do not partake of the fruit of this Tree,” came a voice. “If you do, you shall surely die. Instead, go. Turn from here and forget the fruit so that you may live.” And so I placed the Tree at my back, letting the dirt Path beneath my feet carry me away from the Tree. I walked for moments, or years, or minutes, for I lost all sense of time, before I noticed the snake at my side.

“Where are you going, little one?” he asked.

“I am traveling away from the Tree,” I told him, “and from the fruit it bears. I was told that if I ate of the fruit, I would surely die.”

The snake laughed. “You will not die,” he told me. “The One who told you that is simply deceiving you. He knows that when you eat of the fruit, your eyes would be opened. Wait here. I shall return shortly.”

The snake soon returned, bearing an apple. I took it from him and held it. It was a duller shade than the blood-red fruit on the Tree, and was developing dark spots where it was beginning to rot. “This fruit is not ripe,” I told the snake.

“You have traveled too far along the Path,” he told me. “I may not be able to bring you to the fruit you desire, but at least I can bring a taste of the truth to you. Now eat.”

I ate, and I saw that it was good. It was not sweet and crisp, but sour and bitter, tasting of decay. But still, it was good. My eyes were opened, and I saw what I had become and I was ashamed. But I was not dead. In fact, I was, for the first time in a long time, alive.

That snake, the one who saved me so long ago, is dead now. He abandoned me, leaving me alone in this world. For that, I cannot forgive him. I want to hate him, to curse his name, to resent this betrayal. Still, I cannot bring myself to hate the one who saved me back then, when I was lost and adrift on the Path. I have no rage. I have no hatred. I only have my emptiness and my grief.

[1]I’ve already talked about how I managed to get my hands on the notebook, but that’s a long story that I’ll tell at a point where it makes more sense ~T

[2]Once you get the hang of her cursive. Seriously, who still writes in that? ~T