Narrated by Bob Eccles
Rosario took a seat at the kitchen table. She straightened her unkempt tendrils by tugging at them, this way and that. Finally satisfied, she placed both hands on the cold, metal surface. With clenched teeth and closed eyes, she forced her hands to remain tranquil. She didn’t have to look down to know what was there. In the space between her thumbs sat Edna. Tiny, delicate, Edna. When Rosario first saw Edna’s faint caramel color and the unusual markings on her face, she knew everything would be okay.
Still, she couldn’t resist; she opened her eyes and directed them to the table.
The room was too dark to perceive Edna’s most delicate features. Though incredibly tired, Rosario stood and commanded her legs toward the floor lamp just beyond the table. She needed to get a good look. After all, Edna was special. In the light, Rosario’s eyes confirmed it once again. Edna would be her last pleasure pill.
Anice, Delicia, and Desiree had been the best; Rosario never had trouble admitting that. She found Anice first, at a street corner on a watery snowflake kind of night–not cold enough for solid snow, too cold for rain. Her heart jumped as soon as she held the little thing in her hand. Without effort or instruction, her body strolled home. There, she and Anice were together for what felt like forever. They danced around the cold apartment, which didn’t even feel cold. The joy of that little friend warmed Rosario from the inside out. Made her someone new.
It wasn’t until late the next evening that Rosario realized she’d missed her mother’s birthday and had forgotten to pick up her little brother from school. One after the other, her family members called to yell at her through their sobs and tears. Despite these oversights, when Anice disappeared Rosario worried she’d never be happy again.
But Delicia and Desiree soon filled the hole in her mind, perhaps even her heart. She didn’t think it was possible after Anice, but they made her feel things she never before knew. Rosario drove up the hills and around the bends as fast as she could. The setting sun seeped into her veins; the bare branches of the winter trees sent jolts of ecstasy down her spine as they brushed over her skin. Suddenly, a turn came too fast and the convertible slipped over the edge, end over end. As she plummeted into the rocky valley below, Rosario felt weightless and free. Fear was far from her mind.
Rosario awoke in the hospital and found herself surrounded by the police. They told her she’d taken a neighbor’s car and crashed in the mountains. Rosario remembered driving up and up the mountain as the sun faded away below. She remembered the bliss of sharing her world with Delicia and Desiree. What she couldn’t remember was how she’d ended up in that car. Rosario wished she would slip back into unconsciousness, but life wasn’t that kind.
After days and days, after countless hours of sober isolation, the police returned. The serious looking one handed Rosario a traffic citation as the other explained that Rosario’s neighbor didn’t want to press charges. Once she was healthy, she could go free.
When Rosario left the white walls of the hospital behind, she began searching for her next high. Her tendrils ached for pleasure. Their twitching and itching made concentration difficult. Still, knowing she was short on funds, Rosario sought out the guy who’d been rumored to trade pills for favors. She wouldn’t make a habit of getting down on her knees, but when she needed to feel alive, any price was the right price for friends. The task wasn’t pleasant, but the guy held up his end of the deal.
Ishana and Cinnamon soon washed away Rosario’s pain and her tears.
Then, with Tempest, Iniga, Opollo, and Thorn, everything changed. Rosario picked up Tempest and Iniga first. They came to the rescue with remarkable speed and ease. But as they joined her, she realized that having two just wouldn’t do.
Rosario ran out the door and hurried back, back to that guy she found at the PlantAnimal Imaginarium. He was still there–in the Tree Room. His tendrils twirled about as he tried to flirt with a six-eyed girl. Rosario never felt comfortable around that type–she found all the eyes too intrusive. And this one definitely didn’t use–too judgmental. Earlier, the guy said he was leaving for Planet Nastasia-Eleuthera and couldn’t take his stash, what with it being a rehab station and all.
Rosario approached the guy as fast as her frenetic legs would let her. When their worn eyes met, he began to laugh. He must have known she’d come back. But being in such a hurry to unload, the guy gave her a good deal on Opollo and Thorn, too.
As soon as Rosario opened her front door, Opollo and Thorn mixed with Tempest and Iniga. Rosario fell back on her bed as the four little creatures interacted. They were timid at first, but soon everyone played at full pace. Rosario floated through the walls.
It was winter and summer all at once–the best of everything.
Until the pleasure wore off, that is. Which only took a few minutes. Rosario crashed back to the bed, crushed by the tedium. No, what she felt was beyond that, it was more like pain.
And that’s when Rosario knew. She’d taken a few too many pleasure pills.
In the four days since that realization, only one thing consumed Rosario’s wild, hungry mind. Finally, she found Edna. Edna was the strongest, most potent pill Rosario could buy. Edna was special.
Initially, Rosario thought naming the pills for the problem they might create would serve as a reminder not to get carried away. The plan worked well enough with the ‘A.’ Not too many. Don’t get hooked. Just wait a few more days. She’d thought about it for a minute or two with the two ‘Ds’ and even the first ‘I.’ But then, with the ‘C,’ the ‘T,’ and the other ‘I,’ she hadn’t bothered to think about it at all. When she came home with the last two, the ‘O,’ and the ‘N,’ deep down Rosario knew what she could no longer deny.
She’d corrupted her tendrils.
Now, with Edna finally in hand, Rosario exhaled. She recognized that plenty of others would have told her that it wasn’t her fault; that it was a disease; and that there was always help on Planet Nastasia-Eleuthera. But what about those who wouldn’t agree? Could she face them? Could she confront all those six-eyed faces and their judgmental stares?
Rosario didn’t think so. She lifted sweet Edna toward her watering tongue and swallowed the little girl up.
The name Edna didn’t fit in with the scheme, of course, but that was because ‘E’ was for end. Within seconds Rosario felt a darkness creep into her tendrils. In a cruel but seductive tone, Edna whispered that this was the closest Rosario would come to lasting pleasure. At least, that’s what Rosario thought she heard just before the darkness transformed into sad yet empty release.
AUTHOR BIO: Sara Kathryn Puls is a Wisconsinite who lives in South Texas. By day, she is a farmworker attorney for a non-profit law firm. By night, she reads and writes as much as she can. Her work has appeared in Scout & Engineer, ‘Magination, Downer Magazine, and other places.
ILLUSTRATOR BIO: Eleanor Leonne Bennett is a 16 year old internationally award winning artist. Her photography has been published in the Telegraph , The Guardian, BBC News Website and on the cover of books and magazines in the United states and Canada. See more of her photography at www.eleanorleonnebennett.zenfolio.com