After Tantalus stopped reaching, his shoulders ached and he no
longer felt pain elsewhere. He curled inward within
the small island he could create by lowering himself.
He meditated on hunger and yearning. He brought
his forehead to the ground and bent over his knees.
The cool, moist soil a tongue's dart from his lips made him thirstier.
It smelled clean, although he knew it was made of rot and silt, fish
excrement and broken vegetation. He considered apples: gnawed
mealy pulp, gulped into a stomach full of venom. The journey
through the miles of tripe below his belly; its nauseating
conclusion. He still wanted apples. He still wanted
to vomit them before they were too degraded and become
empty and pure, although thirstier. He still wanted
the water to cover his head and stop his nose and mouth.
After Tantalus stopped reaching everyone called
his hunched shoulders and concave stomach and chapped lips beautiful.
Cain walked past and asked what he'd sacrificed, and Tantalus replied,