The Sixth Day – Naomi Bilmes

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“Let there be light!” Everyone knows who said that. I did.

I also said a heck of a lot more that they didn’t write down. As I was mixing fifty milliliters of null with sixty milliliters of void in my 200-milliliter beaker, some of the null got on my hands and elicited a few well-chosen words of profanity. After that slight mishap, however, I got my procedure under control. I swirled the mixture seven times with my glass stirring rod, and light finally began to appear.

“Let there be light!” I whispered, coaxing my treasure to grow and fill the room. But all of a sudden Darkness came crashing through the window, refusing to put up with the cultivation of his opposite.

“Hey!” he demanded, his inky face scrunching up like the faces of the babies I would create a few eons later. “I thought we agreed we weren’t going to let him in.”

“It can’t just be you and me forever, man,” I constructed my face into an apologetic grimace. “And he won’t be that bad, I promise.”

Well, I was wrong about that. But how was I supposed to know about Light’s superiority complex? As a result, I assigned them to opposite sides of the galaxy. The one interaction they do have is hitting the sun and the moon back and forth, a practice that begins to look rather like Wimbledon after a while. I kept hoping that one of the volleys would strike a black hole; that would certainly increase the entertainment value.

In the meantime, though, I needed another project—and that’s where Earth came in. I started by super-gluing some hydrogen and oxygen together, and all the molecules were really attracted to each other. They kept clumping into groups of three and then holding hands with the other groups. Before I knew it, I had seven oceans.

So then I glued pieces of land on top of the water and decided it was time for some life. But what to create? And where to put it? I asked Gabriel for some help, and he said he would go scope things out for me. He walked all over Earth for two days, then came back and told me to put anything anywhere—it seemed safe. I wish I had known that angels have a different composition than the things I was looking to create. Then I wouldn’t have put a pig in the middle of the ocean and wondered why I never saw it again.

After that mishap, I decided to try putting animals on the land—and that seemed to work better. Eventually. At first, I couldn’t figure out why they kept dying so fast, until one day I saw Gabe injecting himself with his usual dose of Red Bull.

That’s it! I thought. They just need something to keep them going.

I put some red oxen in the field of cows, but all that got me was miniature cows, all of which died pretty quickly. Then I realized that when the cows had been alive, they had liked smelling and chewing on grass—so maybe I should try something else green.

That did the trick. My cows starting mooing, my pigs started grunting, and they all started living for more than three days. I was a genius.

I wrote up a report of everything I’d done so far. Intangible forces: check. Hydrogen bonding: check. Animals thriving on their own: check. I put my report in an envelope, but then realized I didn’t know how much the postage would cost.

“Hey Gabe,” I summoned my most trusty minion. “Where do I send this, anyway?”

“I’ll take care of it,” he said, flippantly tucking the letter into his pocket.

“Okay, great. When do you think I’ll get comments back?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Anywhere between two days ago and two centuries from now.”

“Great. Thanks, Gabe,” I said.

What to do now? I had to keep doing something. Watching Light and Darkness hit their tennis balls back and forth was getting boring, as was watching my chickens sit on their eggs. Thankfully, I noticed something about the animals: they all had partners.  Some stayed together for a while and some stayed together for only a few hours, but they all had someone to be with. Whether they nuzzled, licked, cuddled or, you know, got a little bit closer, it looked pretty pleasant. And for the first time, I realized that I was lonely.

Darkness had been a good friend (until he had Light to quarrel with) and Gabriel was great as a minion, but he seemed pretty busy promoting the Red Bull industry. I needed a new something—a something more like myself. A something that wanted to create and experiment and blend mysterious ingredients in 200-milliliter beakers.

I retreated to my room and got to work. I measured; I calculated; I poured; I mixed; I blew up seven beakers; I tried again. I recorded everything.

Two weeks later, I was finished. I’d placed all the by-products on the Earth and gotten rid of all the waste, and what was left was everything I’d ever wanted.

She was perfect. Her hair was a mixture of light and darkness and her skin glowed at night like a calmer version of the moon. Her body curved in and out in a way I could only have imagined, and her eyes reflected the soft grass on which she walked.

I spoke to her. I asked her if she liked my land, my Light, my chickens. Did she need anything else? Did she want to try any experiments of her own?

But she didn’t speak back. She didn’t seem to hear me. She brushed her perfect toes on my grass and dipped her perfect fingers in my ocean, but she couldn’t hear anything I said.

I was entirely puzzled. Why couldn’t she hear me?  What had I done wrong? I’d spent hours and hours making sure she was flawless, but it seemed I had left out a critical piece. What was it? I went back through my notes, going over my calculations and procedures. All my calculus was correct, all my grams to mole conversions were impeccable, and I hadn’t disobeyed any of the laws of gravity. I couldn’t figure it out.

I went to my window and continued to watch her. I tried to catch her eye, clap in her direction, but she couldn’t seem to sense anything I did. In fact, she couldn’t seem to sense very much at all. After a day of wandering around, she sat down on the grass and didn’t get up. After careful observation, I realized that some of the hydrogen and oxygen groups had gotten into her eyes. And not only that, but they had spilled over and flowed down her cheeks as well.

She sat with her arms wrapped around her knees and there was an expression on her face that I couldn’t recognize. She seemed to be fading.

I got an idea. After raiding Gabriel’s fridge, I returned to where she was sitting and placed a can of Red Bull right in front of her. I hid my presence behind a tree, and she delicately wrapped her perfect fingers around the cool, silver-colored aluminum. She spent the next ten minutes figuring out how to open it. Once she accomplished this feat, she timidly put the can to her lips. A little of the liquid fell into her mouth, and she spit it out immediately.

I was shocked. Gabriel lived on ten cans of this stuff per day. And I thought that maybe if she drank some too, she might be able to talk to me.

She turned away from the can, and I picked it up and took a swallow. Well, she was right to spit it out. No wonder Gabriel ingests it through injection.

I dragged myself back to my room, preparing to go over my notes for the thousandth time. But as I was about to pick up my table of correlation coefficients, I saw it: an unopened letter sitting on my desk. Gabriel must have delivered it in the mail last week and I had been too preoccupied with my flawed ingenuity to bother with it.

I tore it open now. Congratulations on your good work!  it read. It seems you have been using your creativity to the best of your abilities. Many before you have tried, but few have succeeded…I skipped to the second to last paragraph. I must caution, you, however, not to attempt to create a being like yourself. That is the only rule. Another like you cannot be made, and if you attempt this feat, your creation will be destined to an existence more terrible than you can ever imagine.

Shit. So she’s living an existence more terrible than I can ever imagine. I have to change this.  Just because I wanted someone to talk to does not mean she has to be miserable.

I knew what I had to do.

After Darkness hit the moon across the sky, my creation fell asleep, lying perfectly on my grass, under my sky, breathing in my air. I picked her up gently, not wanting to hurt my precious creation, but wanting to feel every part of her, knowing it would be the last time I did so.  I slowly ran my hands over her shoulders and down her arms, sliding them inwards and feeling the smooth bumps of her ribcage. Holding my breath, I stuck my hand in and pulled out a rib. There: I was still complete, but she had a part missing. We were unequal.

I laid her back down, and placed the rib down next to her. From my pocket, I drew the vial of essence that had created her. I popped the corkscrew off, and carefully poured the liquid onto the ivory white curve of bone. It began to sizzle, and I stepped away, knowing that my time here was at an end. I watched the rest from my room, through the broken window that Darkness had crashed through. I watched them sleep away the rest of the night: two beings, alike, sharing each other’s space and breathing each other’s breaths. I watched them wake up, and I watched a smile break out onto her face—the smile she had never given me.

When the sky had cleared of pink morning fog, I sat down at my desk to write another report. Dear Sir, it began, Thank you for your kind feedback. Unfortunately, the letter reached my eyes a bit too late, but I think I have been able to rectify the situation. An hour later, I summoned my trusty minion.

“Hey Gabe,” I said, as the angel sauntered into the room. “I have another letter for you to mail.”

Naomi Bilmes is a recent graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park, where she studied English Literature, Psychology and Creative Writing (she also took and enjoyed all of the mandatory classes that are hated by a majority of students). Naomi has been blogging for over a year (find her blog here), and she writes fiction, non-fiction, poetry, diary entries, emails, and letters.  She is currently studying in Jerusalem at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, where she delves into Jewish learning and derives inspiration from the texts of the rabbis, the prophets, and any higher powers that may be up there. Someday, she hopes her own female voice will leave a mark in the fields of Judaism and literature.

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