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Anna was an acorn, and she told people this every chance she got: her parents, friends, coworkers, random people on the street; whoever, whenever, they had to know the truth. She wasn't a woman, a child, with skin and hair the color of blood-spackled honey. No, no, not at all. She was a red-rose nugget inside a shell dangling from the end of a swaying branch. That was Anna. That was all she ever wanted to be and all she ever yearned for.

And when she told people this they looked at her in suspicion and brilliant fright.

"What was so bad about being human, Anna? I'm a human, Anna. Am I so bad?"

"Blah," she said, "blah," and waved her fists in a furious kind of dismissal, disgusted by a question too stupid to answer.

It was simple, see: Anna was an acorn. There were no questions to be asked, no arguments to be made. She simply was, and she was as she was meant to be, don't you see?

All her life she wanted to be an acorn, all her life, and nothing could stop her savage, aching ways, nothing could stop her daydream montage. She saw herself so frequently bloom in delight, an acorn that grew and stretched year by year until she pierced the sky, her limbs reaching so high they ensnared the moon and the two of them lived their life together in an embrace -- just her and the moon that loved her grasp, lived in her arms, husband and wife and husband again. Happy as a tree, without emotion, without skin and nerves or a brain, or pain or any soft silver sighs or cares at all, just strength and height and age and growth. So mighty, nothing outside herself, nothing except growth and the moon that fell into her clutches one ecstatic steaming night.

And then there was Jacob. Poor, dear Jacob, who traded in affection and held-hands and sly smiles. Dim little Jacob who tried his hardest to show her the joys of being human: the feeling of fingers running down dawn bellies and over sequined hips; pain and tenderness, but she had little interest. None at all. Oh yes, she enjoyed these things -- so wondrously and multiplyingly spinal -- she enjoyed them and consumed them simply as any good young woman does, it's just that they weren't convincing, weren't good enough, simply were not that important and neither was he. She was hesitant to break his heart, of course, to rip it apart like a wineglass, a fractured bone, but he chose his path freely. It was his own damn fault, so he should stop pouring down tears. He knew she was an acorn, he knew it all along, he just chose to ignore the facts and press on, always on, trying to convince her of her folly. Poor Jacob.

It was pointless. She never longed for him, she liked him fine, but she never longed with that burning, mind-erasing, leg-slackening tension that connects head and heart with chains and bronze wires that pass electrical waves. She had never ever longed like that in her life. Except for one thing: she longed to drop from the branch, feel herself in freefall and land steaming and charging, reaping and rolling, avoiding the sharp beaks of the birds and the stoneground steps of men to bury herself deep under blankets of earth. She would cover herself with it, oh yes, she would cover herself so happily, running it through her hair and fingers and wiggling down low, tucked in and warm to wait in the womb of the world as she grew, safe from harm until she finally extended her arms and legs, felt them pull in new directions and carve their way toward the sun, the sky, that loving moon, the arched columns that hang suspended in the wind like green and gold money.

Anna was an aching acorn, and every day she ached a little more.

[Forever after at]


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