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Eva Eliav
Eva Eliav


Eva Eliav grew up in Toronto, Canada and now lives in Israel. Her poetry and short fiction have been published in a number of literary magazines, including Room of One’s Own, Emrys Journal, Flashquake, The Apple Valley Review, Horizon Review, The Linnet’s Wings, The St. Ann’s Review and ARC Israel. Her other interests include painting, films and finding the perfect frappuccino. Eva Eliav is married and has a daughter. 

The following work is copyright © 2013. All rights reserved. No distribution or reprinting in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Child's Play

The old man called me his smart mouth. His smartie pants. His girl who had an answer to everything. Except that was illusion. Just pretence.

Have you seen Truffaut’s film, “L’Infant Sauvage”, the story of a boy who’s been raised by wolves? There’s a moving scene where the scientist who’s in charge of the child’s education tests the boy by punishing him unfairly. Instead of quietly submitting, as he did when his punishments were deserved, the boy explodes into screams. The scientist smiles. Injustice enrages the child. Perhaps he is human after all.

For creatures who crave justice, we seem to create a lot of the opposite.

But, yeah, when I saw that scene, it struck a chord. I would have screamed, too. Or felt like screaming. I wonder where that lonely, bewildered boy found the confidence to show defiance. Maybe wolves are great parents after all.

I can’t get over what the old man did. But I never told, never made a peep. I was three when he put his big hands on my body. It’s a game, he said, his mouth nuzzling my ear. He tickled me until I was wild with laughter.

I admit I’m an enigma to myself. Outwardly, I’m as calm as a Zen garden. Inwardly, I’m a painophiliac, tormented by hurts that never heal. Years ago, I knew a boy with hemophilia. We were very careful when we played with him. Once, when he fell from the swing and scraped his knee, we ran to his house in terror to call his mother. We didn’t realize it’s the inner bleeds, the hidden tiny geysers, that ravage organs and destroy a life.

Sylvia’s trying to help.
She says, “We’ll grow you a tougher skin, a second skin.”
“Like those Sufis,” I say, “the ones that cross embers without burning?”
She smiles. “A little like that.”
“Won’t work,” I snap. “We can’t put new skin underneath my skin. We can’t reupholster my soul.”
“Maybe we can.”
My chest fills with irritation. “Bullshit,” I growl. There’s something wrong and it feels unfixable. I glare at her in silence, yet I’m listening. Her hope entices me like delicate perfume.