The History of Shivers

The history of shivers is the story of the birth of movement.

In the beginning there was the smooth cold statue skin, the chiseled fluid form, the motion infused so perfectly into the stony flesh that there was no need to move.

There were two of them, and they sat with eyes closed, hands touching shoulders touching necks touching lips and they stayed that way while the water touched the sand and the sunlight touched the surface of the water and the blue sky touched the sun and there was nothing else.

Until a fingertip began to brush, and the corner of a mouth felt the brushing, and the brushing felt a shiver, and the shiver glittered up through eyelashes, and one of them opened her eyes. Her glance found the sand before sliding up a shin, a thigh, the curve of a breastbone, the soft hollow of a neck, a chin, the slope of a nose, and when it found his eyelids those opened as well.

When they did, he found himself breathing in for the first time, chest softening into clay, and as her fingers felt the breath they, too, flexed and pressed themselves up and off and down into the sand, playing the resulting ripples like harp-strings as the grains learned and began to glass against one another, sliding and poking and shifting further toward the shore. And when that tiny tumbling met the water, its surface warped for the first time as it also started to shiver, small waves learning to ripple out until they began to climb on top of one another to try to reach the sun. The sun felt this need, and it gave a glitter to the shifting water in tiny diamonds of light that jumped off the seaspray and surfed the waves of her glance when she turned to look. She turned back to him, and when their eyes met once again he drank the sunlight from her and it shivered down his neck as he breathed out for the first time. As she felt that breath on her claying skin, all at once she could breathe as well.

And they stayed that way, feeling their breath move in and out as the wind was born and the breeze made dragonflies and the earth made leaves for the dragonflies to perch on and the leaves learned to rustle and the rustling made crickets so that it didn’t have to sing alone, and the song of the crickets made laughter for him and for her and then there was everything.

[You can return to The Elizabeths this way.]