The First Days

We cut walls from his clothes, draping suit-backs over posts and making beds from his pockets. We wrapped ourselves tight with the scraps, packed in warm, and put ourselves to sleep. The jungle ate his flesh, and we were glad because that meant that we didn’t have to. In three days he was covered over from head to toe with vines and other things, flowers and little frosty, curling leaves. We dug for roots while we waited, spread branches to waterproof our roofs, because we had nothing else to do. We could have kept moving but we were glad when we didn’t, when flowers turned into fruit. Yes, we ate from his body. We ate from his body because it was good and we were running out of roots.

We learned to bleach linen, and made maps with the charcoal from the remains of his axe. Slowly we pushed deeper into the jungle, and our maps increased in size to keep pace with our exploration. We found many things. There was the cave with the strange root growing near it, the taro that we could pull from the ground and eat raw with our bare hands, juice turning our fingers pink. There was the lake too, with waters so clear that you felt as if you could look down for miles, and not dead either, you could see the many fish that you wanted to kill with your spear. In the middle it was darker, but we did not go there.

The jungle held many things, and eventually we learned the uses of all of them. Many of the rocks we found flaked too easily, but some were good for tools and others could be melted down and turned into bronze. There were many plants, but not many that provided us with food, though we had enough. The flowers, eventually, stopped sprouting. We used the leaves for tea and the visions we saw told us to build a citadel on his chest. So we cleared some land and piled some rocks and felled some trees until we had a fortress, a place high and safe from the rest of the jungle. We brought in our beds and used the cloth from our homes to build a tent in the middle, where we got down on our knees and prayed. Why had he forsaken us, and left us alone in the world?

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