From the first day I saw her picking radishes by the riverside, I knew she was the one for me. For weeks I watched her from my vantage point, concealed in the rushes with my hand around the firm upright reed before me. It wasn't long before I had deduced that she lived alone; she never came here with another, to this place that was clearly as special to her as it was to me, where even her garlic scent was intoxicating. She didn't have much upper body strength, either, judging by the way she tugged at those thick, stiff carrots. And her lips... Her lips were as red as the onions that grow down the river all bloody and wild. I had to have her, and her radishes.
There were tales of her around these parts. All the local taverns sold such stories with free mug of ale for any travelling menfolk that were interested. The kind of bars that'd only serve you a drink to break the tension that filled the room when you first entered, in metal jugs covered in the fingerprints of the person who'd last drank from it.
Then the stories would start...
No one knew the girl's real name, but around here they called her The Wild Onion.
It was another day, but somehow I knew the time was ripe, that this was the beginning, and this time as she walked home slowly, as if in a dream, her fertile hips and fruit-filled basket swinging in perfect synchrony, I followed. The wind was as light as a stalker; an invisible thief of the flesh, undetected and yet caressing every part of her body sensuously. It ran its fingers through her auburn hair and slipped her left sleeve away, revealing her bare shoulder; her delicate skin; as lush and pale as a white onion.
I followed her back to a small cottage and made sure to take mental note of where she hid the key. I sang a little rhyme to remind myself: in the light of ursa-minor, there is no woman no finer, with a key in her... and so on it went.
Once she was safely inside and her shape visible through the translucent bedroom curtains, I took my hand from out my pocket and approached her front step. The odour of fresh veg and garlic permeated the air, intoxicating me with longing. The door wasn't locked, not sufficiently anyway, so I went inside.
The hallway was neat and sparsely decorated. On one side was a bouquet of leeks in a white vase, and hanging above it an impressionistic painting of a cauliflower. The other side was bare save for a clotheshorse adorned with frilly underwear: virginal, white, like an onion. At the end of it all was her. She had her back to me, and was leaning forwards to get at something. Through her long flowing skirt I could make out the curves of her pushed-out buttocks; they had the globular firmness and earthy aroma of a freshly dug potato. The floor creaked under the weight of my boots and she turned, startled, to look at me. Her onion-red lips trembled. Her onion-white eyes gazed in fear. Her small, onion-sized breasts heaved as the heart beneath them thumped madly. She did not resist when I tried to embrace her, in fact, her fear seemed to subside.
The next day I brought her an onion: the most beautiful onion you ever did see. I spent all morning searching the hills and moors and cliffs for the perfect one, and eventually found the onion I would be proud to present to her.
She answered the door with the wide-eyed innocence of a rabbit in the headlights of an onion-harvesting tractor. "For you," I said.
She took the onion, held it to her chest and inhaled its scent. "It's beautiful," she said.
"Only an eighth as beautiful as you."
She blushed, as if her face had rubbed up against a beetroot and stained.
Inside, I lay her down on the bed. "Will you show me where the wild onions grow?" I asked. She nodded, big-eyed.
Then she presented her onion to me. It was the sweetest smelling allium I have ever encountered, and with the most succulent pink flesh my tongue has ever known. I unsheathed my long knife. Kneeling over her, I parted the onion with the knife, sinking the blade deep inside it. Pungent aromas escaped from within as I peeled back layer after soggy layer. I looked up at her face, now strewn with tears, and she said: "I will show you the forbidden vegetables".
On the final day, she took me where the wild onions grow. Hand in hand, she led me gaily through the fields, stopping apparently at random to sample a taste of the harvest. As she sunk her teeth into the crunchy red fruit, I was reminded of Eve eating the symbolic Onion of Knowledge. I kissed her heart, savouring the taste I knew would be repeating on me till morning. Her lips were like poison berries and I wanted more.
As she laughed and turned away from me, I fumbled at my waist for something hard. My hand fell upon a ripe onion by my side. I plucked it from the earth and felt its weight; it was heavy. I held it high above her head. Just as I was about to bring it crushing down, she turned back to me. Her tangerine smile became a marrow grimace of confusion. "What are you doing?" she cried.
I struck her with the vegetable.
She fell to her knees. She tried to regain her feet, but I brought the rock-hard onion down again, and kept on pounding as her skull caved in easily beneath its weight, like a clove of garlic destined for a thick stew, but there would be no more of that in her future. Soon she was dead, lying sweetly on her back amongst the crops, thick red blood smeared across her face and breasts like the most savoury broth. I knelt down and placed a red onion between her teeth. "All beauty must die," I whispered.
The sun was disappearing over the horizon, like a shallot sinking into gravy. I would be leaving with it.