Adam’s Adam’s apple was irreducible. Joy saw it thrust the skin on Adam’s neck like he had swallowed a toy pyramid – no, like he had swallowed a toy Mayan temple. The top was flat, a construction germane to Mayan architecture, not Egyptian. The temple had lodged in his larynx, sideways.
Then Joy caught herself. No company crafted and sold Mayan pyramids as toys. Better associate the metaphor for Adam’s Adam’s apple from a cultural period that, through years of artificiality and mainstreaming, could be minimized in toy form. The Middle Ages. Maybe it was a toy turret from a castle from LEGO’s Middle Ages collection. They could be a bit pyramid-like.
Maybe Adam had played with it as a child and swallowed it, and then it resurfaced when he became an adult. Just there, always, sideways. Joy remembered the items she had swallowed as a child and considered where they might have ended up in her body: knots of gum in her liver, a marble in her heel, plastic soldier under her clavicle. A soldier from World War II, of course, not Vietnam. No one reduced Vietnam soldiers to toys, yet. Some people remembered that trouble far too well to reduce it to toy status.
Joy had only been seeing Adam a short time, two dates, really, but already she noticed Adam’s Adam’s apple. It was irreducible. There, when he breathed in, breathed out, smiled, and laughed. Even more there when he swallowed, which is why their second date was, by Joy’s choice, a walk in the park. Facing forward without food. She liked to walk dates in the park.
Their horrible first date was the Vietnamese restaurant. Joy was certain Adam’s Adam’s apple was pointing at her, staring at her, like a quiet but vengeful member of their conversation. She subconsciously involved it in the conversation, asking Adam if he was thirsty and did he want to clear his throat. Adam didn’t seem to notice, or if he did, he didn’t mention it.
She knew it wasn’t him, it was a part of him. Thus, she accepted a second date. And yet, by the second date, Joy was frightened by Adam’s Adam’s apple.
It appeared it would push through his skin and come after her. To do what, she had no idea. Penetrate her own throat? (She put up a hand to protect her skin, then looped her scarf around her neck a few more times, subconsciously feeling her clavicle for that WWII soldier.) A strange fear – or fear of fear? – captivated her.
The whole scene felt quite violent—this encased sideways Middle Ages turret and the person who carried it, Adam. But Joy knew it wasn’t him. It was just a part of him. Yet it wasn’t disposable without him, too.
Even when they spoke by phone, though quickly, to arrange a third date, this time at Adam’s apartment for dinner, Joy could see Adam’s Adam’s apple, there, pointing, reaching out for her, so close, just on the other side of the phone.
Joy couldn’t stand to see Adam or Adam’s Adam’s apple any more. Even though it wasn’t him, it was enough. It wasn’t what she wanted, she saw that clearly.
After Adam hung up, Joy gathered her courage, and before she thought about it again, she texted him, “No. No dinner. It’s not you, it’s your apple.”
While she half-waited for a reply, occupied with hope she wouldn’t receive one, hoping that this entire experience could move casually into nothingness, Joy looked at the line of text and realized she had forgotten an “Adam.”
Or had she?
Did she have to add “Adam” as part of the noun? Is Adam’s apple, when talking to an Adam, the same as Adam’s Adam’s apple? Didn’t Adam own his own apple? Wasn’t the apple part of Adam?
The answer to her question came quickly. “What apples? You are crazy. By.”
Joy, relieved her message was clear, shrugged and shut off her phone. Apparently, it was Adam’s Adam’s apple after all. Disposable, along with Adam.
That night, before bed, Joy deleted Adam’s Adam’s apple, his misspelled “bye,” and, finally, Adam himself from her phone and her thoughts entirely.
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