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by Rose Biggin

He got me a necklace made out of a food chain.

He didn’t tell me where he’d got it from or how much it cost. It wasn’t on my birthday list (it wasn’t my birthday), it wasn’t Valentine’s Day or Christmas. I looked up some more obscure holidays to see if it was one of those, but nothing suggested itself.

I held it out in front of me. There wasn’t a label or a price tag. He told me they came like that, just as they were, without anything additional to interfere with the autotrophs. He’d written me a card though, with a polite apology that it wasn’t a full web. But it was brand new, he said: there had been no tertiary consumers. Not even secondary consumers. I was the primary consumer. The one and only.

It looked a little unwieldy. I asked if it could be adjusted. But he shook his head and muttered something about trophic levels, unchangeable, set in their waves. But he did say it would be the perfect piece of jewellery I ever wanted to do some ecological modelling.

It was very pretty. I watched the energy rippling through it, felt it get hot under my fingers.

‘Careful of the omnivores,’ he said. ‘They might be a little sharp, especially the scavengers. The safest part is start of it, there, just by the clasp.’ He told me it was all totally authentic and workable, the real thing: the one concession he’d made was asking for it without any detritivores. It didn’t seem hygienic at the time. I said I understood his decision. I looked at the apex predator, easily the most menacing organism, right at the height of the chain, pulling its weight: a locket containing both our pictures. I wished there were matching earrings so I had a whole ecosystem.

He took a photosynthesis of me wearing it, to carry around in his wallet. He said there weren’t any decomposer organisms in there, nothing that needed to break down or crumble. Just in case I thought he merely wanted me for atrophy wife.

‘Oh, come on,’ I groaned. ‘That one’s been done biomass of people.’

‘What’s wrong?’ he said. ‘Pray tell.’’

‘I don’t want to be prey,’ I said. ‘I’d have to be chased.’

It wasn’t that I didn’t like the present. But, I mean, what do you wear with a food chain? He said the herbivores would bring out my eyes, but I found the more carnivorous links made my skin come out in a rash. It’s just in a drawer now.