The Good Version

There is a version of events in which nothing has ever gone awry between Orpheus and Eurydice. It is not a version often told. Happiness is not what we want for other people because it has little to say to us beyond this: ‘Look at these bastards. They’re happy.’ 

In this version of events, Orpheus and Eurydice are united still, cut from the same flesh, their heartbeats are one. Their differences are complementary. What Eurydice can’t do, Orpheus will, and vice-versa. 

When they make love, their eyes are open to each other, their bodies wide and trusting, the world a map of possibilities. Orpheus’s spine isn’t sore from hopeless yearning, and Eurydice’s veins aren’t filled with the poison of indifference. In the corner of their home flows a brook in which they wash their faces in the morning. The bed in which they sleep is large and both their bodies sleep in starfish shapes, limbs wide, mouth-belly exposed to the air. 

In this version, Orpheus’s hands aren’t stained blue from taking out his grief on the desert sky when he felt forsaken. 

In this version, Eurydice’s eyes have lids, opening and closing with the pleasure of being alive at Orpheus’s side. 

When Orpheus writes, in this version, it is for Eurydice, and when Eurydice reads what he writes, her body beams with the joy of recognition. When Eurydice dances, in this version, it is with Orpheus, not with naiads or slithering footless beings, and when she dances it is to the song Orpheus plays for both of them. When Eurydice smiles, Orpheus feels that he has given the whole world a subtler tint with which to adorn itself. When Eurydice tells the jokes he so craves, Orpheus laughs from a throat that can open wide without choking on greasy and meaningless fumes. 

When Orpheus travels, it is to go see Eurydice, a Eurydice who is found not in the depths of Hades but in the bright sunlight, waiting for him on a bridge, or bent over a cup of tea, a book, or cutting her toenails on his rug. 

Eurydice alive, full and loose as a ball of yarn. Eurydice alive, the softness of your hair as it pulls my hand into it. Eurydice’s eyes the colour of banana spots. Eurydice’s eyes like a river in a storm. 

In this version, Orpheus’s mother calls him from Parnassus and says, ‘Something different about you, couldn’t say what. If it’s happiness, may it endure.’ 

In this version, the snow on the trees and mountain tops lures Orpheus and Eurydice out of their home and they ramble through the lilac afternoon with their palms pressed together, fingers interlaced. Their house is warm and full of animals. 

Eurydice, who is Orpheus, who is Eurydice, writes and dances in the world, finds songs in the clatter of trains, the whooshing of trees, the robin’s complaint, the scratch of a pen. 

Orpheus wanders through life collecting things he brings home to Eurydice, and Eurydice does the same. The house is full of things that remind them of each other, and no matter the sky’s colour their bodies are flung towards each other in endless surges of desire. 

Orpheus grows into a better Orpheus, Eurydice into a better Eurydice. There is no snake, no Underworld, no eternal return, no hopelessness, no unrequited love. There is no story, which is what life is like when it is good: not for the benefit of anyone looking in, reading to see the ways in which the protagonist is saddened, grieving, and hurt. In happiness, things simply are. In happiness, there is no story, and in this version, Orpheus is happy. 

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