You and I were equal.
From your first parched cough, as you rose on your unsteady legs and brushed the dust from your belly, He already had me in mind. God my Creator and Adam, you, my model formed my body. The creation of me.
You marveled at me, staring, reaching out to touch me. And I was not meant to be trampled, nor to war against you, but to lay against you at night. To hold your hand by day and be your friend.
We stared up through branches into the sunlight as foxes wound their tails around our calves and lions lent their thick manes for pillows. You never had to ask to hold me. I never doubted your holy love. We trusted each other.
We climbed mountains and spoke with God as our bodies bronzed, naked and unashamed. When He looked at us, His eyes shone. His face was sunlight and warmth. He often laughed as He walked with us.
“My children,” He would say. “I love you. How beautiful you are!”
As the sea turtles laid their eggs at night we made love on the beach. We saw God smiling down on us from the moon.
I awoke before you one morning and kissed your sleeping eyes. I went into the Garden to collect fruit for breakfast. The trees swayed in greeting as a gentle breeze spun through the branches. From one, a voice called to me–its tone familiar and close. A sleek and sinuous creature wound its body amidst the shimmering branches, sunlight bouncing off its shiny skin.
It dropped some of its length from a limb and settled on my shoulder. A serpent with dark, deep eyes wrapped its silky smooth body around my chest then slid along my spine and encircled my waist. As its scales caressed me, I thought of how much it felt like your callused hands stroking my body. How its slithering embrace felt like your touch on my skin.
It began to speak…and I listened.
I awoke and you were gone. The grass beside me was still warm and springing up from your departure. I knew that you would return soon, fruit cradled in your arms and your long hair falling in tangles over your tan shoulders, but I couldn’t wait to see you so I went searching for you instead. Birds swooped and called to their mates as I called for you too.
I found you beneath the Tree. In your hand was a gleaming red fruit and wrapped around your body was a beautiful, strong serpent. As I approached I reached out to stroke its back, but it quickly released you and disappeared into the branches above.
“Here,” you said to me, and offered the fruit. “The serpent said it would make us like Father.”
I looked at my wife. This fruit is not meant for me, I thought. But you smiled and gently placed it in my palm. I loved you, but in my heart was a resistance I had never felt, a calling to let the fruit fall to the ground. There was something else too–a new idea that I could be like my Father and that this would make you happy.
So even though the fruit’s skin was blackening where you had bitten and the air was growing cooler around us, I took and ate. And then all sound stopped.
No breeze. No singing birds. No rustling leaves or waves lapping against the shore. A stillness and grayness settled over the Garden. I looked at you–you were standing very still. Your eyes were wide in fear and tears began to trickle down your cheeks. I tried to hold you but you pushed me away. For the first time, I became furious with you. I felt a desire to strike you for rejecting me, which frightened me in its urgency. You saw my clenched fists and stepped away from me, a look of shock and sadness on your face that I could hurt you. I watched as the sadness turned to a hardening in your features that changed your face before my eyes. Never had I thought you anything but exquisitely beautiful, but suddenly, there was an ugliness in you that appalled me. I felt so ashamed that I yelled at you.
“What have you done?!” I cried. Your head drooped. “Woman! God told us NEVER to eat from this tree. How could you do this to me?”
“To you?! Is that all you care about Adam?”
“How could you be so stupid?” I whispered, shaking my head in disappointment.
“I am sorry! He said it would make us like Father, that we could live forever like Him. I thought that…”
“He LIED to you, Eve!”
Your eyes narrowed. “Yet you ate of the fruit, Adam.”
An uneasiness grew in my belly and I fell to my knees. My head swam and I dug my hands into the ground to steady myself.
You started silently crying, and slowly, lock by chestnut lock, pulling your long hair in front to conceal your breasts. You wrapped your arms around yourself and walked backward into a bush. You began yanking vines from the bush and tying them around your waist.
“What are you doing?” I asked looking up at you. You wiped your nose.
“I do not want you to see me.” You sniffed, your voice coming in broken sobs. “It was not my fault, it wasn’t, it wasn’t….oh! What have I done?!” You cried, burying your face in your hands. I stood and went to you and tried to brush aside your hair, the hair that tickled my nose every night as I held you, the soft hair that I combed through with my fingers every morning. You recoiled from me and slapped my hand aside.
“Do not touch me! Don’t pretend that you care. After all, this is my doing right? I did this to you!” Your face contorted in rage and I felt exposed, wounded standing there naked before you. I started pulling vines too, wrapping them about my waist silently. You glanced up at me and then something caught your attention behind me. You screamed. I turned around.
On a plain in the distance a pack of jackals was attacking a zebra. It was slowly falling to the ground, blood pouring from at least a dozen bite wounds. Its whinnies grew fainter each second, and finally it collapsed on its side and the jackals descended. They tore pieces of flesh and crouched to eat the fresh meat. Several of them fought over the morsels or pushed through the pack to get to the carcass.
“Oh no,” You moaned behind me. “Nonononono.”
A doe and her fawn ran between the trees just feet from you. The fawn stopped to nibble on grass and you rose to go to it. The second it saw you, it darted away in fright and followed its mother who was still bounding through the trees.
“This cannot be,” I whispered. Then there was a boom, and another and another. The wind blew cold and strong and the clouds rolled violently above us. Although the sky was darkening, His light shone brightly from the far end of the Garden. It grew brighter as He approached us. I grasped your arm.
“Hide quickly. He’s coming.”