Chapter One

Some places were hot, and others cold. In some places forces moved, in others they were still. There were noises, high and low, loud and gentle, long and short. Hard and soft and neither were all present. There was presence, and existence, and difference. There was movement very close. Close... to her. There was herself, and there was the rest, many strange things touching her that were not part of her. She wanted to explore them, but first she must be explored. There were movements that seemed to be her own, and as she concentrated on them, she discovered more. She found, in a few moments, that she could tell herself how to move, that she controlled her motions. She tried motions at random, not knowing enough about this thing that was herself to know what to do. One frenzied movement opened to her the outside, the other, the thing that was not her. Light and color rushed in, bewildering her with a new dimension of existence.

The first thing she saw when she opened her eyes was a man. She saw only his silhouette, for the sun was at its zenith behind his head. She squinted at the shape of the man, who looked down at her for a long time before leaning to help her to her feet. She looked down to see what was her and what was other, exploring her limbs, learning how to stand. She looked into his face, studying him, seeing the colors and shapes for the first time. He looked down into her face, grasping her elbows. The he spoke, and she, only a minute old, understood him.

"This is now bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man," he said.

She looked at him curiously. Bone of his bones, flesh of his flesh? "What do you mean?" she asked, smiling that her tongue knew the words and that her lips knew a smile.

"I am Adam," he said. "You were made out of my rib, when I was asleep, to be my helpmate, to aid me in my problems."

She looked at his chest and at her own, counting the ridges their ribs made, pushing against their warm skin. Certainly, she had thirteen and he had only twelve. But they were so small! How could she have been made from that? "I don't believe you," she said finally. "I'm too big, and your ribs are too little."

He smiled. "Whether you believe it or not, it's the truth. Well, maybe it was my side… it could have been, I didn't hear it clearly…. But no, it can't be. I think it's obvious I haven't lost a whole side!" he finished, and laughed.

She looked around at the lavish, bewildering profusion of colors and shapes around her. "What is this?" she asked.

"This is Eden, the Garden I have been made to dress and to keep, and you are here to help me."

Then, before she could ask another question, a blinding light burst from above and Adam fell to his knees, pulling her with him. She squinted, gazing upwards, but she could see nothing. Adam closed his eyes, facing the ground.

A loud voice boomed. She covered her ears with her hands, but she could still hear the words clearly.

"Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat."

Adam held her at arms' length and said, "I shall call your name Eve, for you are to be the mother of all living."

Then the light faded. She lowered her hands and stared up, but the sky was as flat and blue as it had been before; it looked no different now. Adam stayed bowed for a minute before slowly rising.

Eve looked at him upon the ground, and then she looked at the ground, which she had never seen before. She knelt and touched the dirt; it was soft, moist and yielding. She pressed her palms to it, and found that tiny pieces clung to her skin. Her hand stretched to the grass to brush it off, and the grass was smooth and bright green. Her eyes widened, and she marveled at it, that it was different from the soft, wet ground and from her own warm flesh.

A pain appeared in her middle. She frowned up at Adam, who smiled as he extended his hand to help her up again. "You must be hungry," he said softly. "Take some fruit." Reaching over his head, he plucked a purple globe from the branch nearest him. Holding it in her hand, she noticed that it was cool and that there were other trees all around, as far as she could see, each bearing brightly colored fruit. Looking back to Adam, she watched him taking one for himself. She imitated the way he bit into it, and was rewarded with a burst of sweetness and with sticky juice sliding down her chin. Closing her eyes, she concentrated on the sweetness, when suddenly the mouthful was gone. Her eyes popped open in surprise, and she looked at the ground, trying to find it.

"What's the matter?" asked Adam.

"Where did it go?" asked Eve.

He laughed. "Into your stomach, of course, where it's supposed to go. Take another bite."

She obeyed, and once more there was the burst of flavor before the morsel suddenly disappeared. Into her stomach, he had said. How could it be? She looked at her belly. He was full of nonsense. Saying she was made of a rib and that fruit got there from her mouth, with no path to go between! Her teeth struck something hard. With a cry of indignation, she held it up for Adam to see, as if it were his fault. He glanced at it.

"That's just the pit," he said, "Throw it away." Turning away from her, he tossed his own pit to the ground carelessly and walked to another tree, which was laden with irregularly shaped yellow fruits. She followed him and tried one of the yellow fruits, and was so astonished that the bite almost fell from her mouth. The taste was slightly sweet, but so different! Slowly, meticulously, she chewed it, exploring the new flavor. So amazed was she by this unexpected change that she took several bites before asking the man, "Does every fruit have a different taste?"

He looked astonished now. "Of course it does," he said, as if he were stating something that ought to be evident, even to a newborn such as she, freshly formed as she was.

The discovery excited her. She ran to the nearest tree, pulled off the glowing orange globe and bit deeply into it. It was tough and bitter. She spat it out fiercely. He watched her and laughed. "You have to peel it," he said, as if she should have known this by some instinct. He took one and pulled off the tough skin. Underneath was a paler orange ball, which he gave to her. She studied it suspiciously for a moment first, then cautiously took a tiny bite. There was far more juice here than there had been in the purple plum she had eaten first, but it was not quite as sweet. Still, it was wonderful. Sucking the juice out before tearing out another bite, she noticed that each fruit had a different texture as well. They were so different, yet they were the same thing. She smiled and dropped the orange before she had finished it, so that she could taste whatever was at the next tree.

From tree to tree she ran, seizing the biggest, most brightly colored pieces of fruit she could find and sinking her teeth into each fiercely, learning its taste and texture. She would swallow a few mouthfuls and then, impatient to find out what else was different, she would let it fall to the ground as she rushed to try another. She discovered vines and shoved the peach she had been eating into Adam's hands to follow them, cramming first little green fruits, then red ones, then black ones into her mouth. She scratched her finger on a thorn and discovered pain, but she only paused for a moment before deciding that exploring was more interesting than the glistening red line on her skin.

A moment after scratching herself, she saw the largest trees of all, a pair of them, reaching closer to the blue sky than any others, straighter and taller. Their fruit was far more dazzling, and the trees displayed it simply, as if unaware of their splendor. The fruits were smooth and round, and one of the trees bore pure yellow fruits, but the fruits of the others were the color of the blood on her hand. The color was like no other. It was bright, yet deep and full. There were hints of it in everything she saw, but this was its pure form. It beckoned to her. Eve had been still for a long time, looking at it; now, she walked forward slowly and extended her hand to one of the tempting red apples.

Adam gripped her wrist with painful strength. Surprise made her forget to resist until he had already steered her several steps away from the coaxing tree. She wrenched out of his grasp and tried to jump away, but he seized her other arm. She tugged with all her strength, but he was just a little stronger, and he already knew how to use his limbs. Her clumsy motions were easy to counter, but finally she twisted away. He leaped after her, wrapping his arms around her knees so that they fell down together. Her breath was knocked out, and by the time she caught it, he was on top of her and had pinned her to the ground.

"Let me go! What's the matter with you? Let me go!" she yelled, writhing.

"Shut up and listen to me!" he shouted over her voice. "Don't eat from that tree! If you do, you'll die! God said so!"

"Who's God?"

Again, he was surprised, even shocked. He answered as if her ignorance were an insult to him. "He is the one who made us! He is the blinding light that spoke to us!"

"What's die?"

Adam looked confused. "I don't really know, but it's something really bad. You can't move or see or anything. And it will happen if you eat from that tree!"

"Why?"

Still the astonished look. "Because God said so."

"How does he know?"

"He knows everything."

Everything? What was there to know, beyond the wonders of this Garden? Wasn't that everything? But Adam was looking at her as if she did not know what she was talking about. And newly born as she was, how could she know?

"All right," she said reluctantly. "I won't eat them." She sighed as she stood up, for the apples were beautiful indeed.

"We can eat from any tree, except from those two," he said, gesturing toward the apple trees. She gave them a wistful glance as she slowly moved to another tree, listlessly picking another fruit and taking a mouthful without paying attention to its taste. She walked more slowly now, thinking only of the beautiful, shining apples, and did not notice where she was walking, until suddenly the ground changed beneath her feet and she looked up.

There were no more trees, only tall grass and colorful blossoms as far as she could see. She stood on her toes, stretching her neck, but still there was nothing but the grass waving in the wind, far past the horizon. She began to run forward, holding her arms out to feel the air rushing against them. The breeze lifted her hair, spreading it in a mane around her upturned face.

Adam walked after her, leisurely and languid. When she ran as fast as she could in a great arc, lifting her legs high to avoid the plants that tried to trip her, he only smiled, unaffected. The joy in her heart sang out, making her smile radiant, but he seemed almost sleepy as she gleefully bounded over the field.

She stopped running so suddenly that she nearly fell. She was staring upward, unmoving. Adam glanced up, then looked at her in mild bemusement. It was only a bird. It did not occur to him that it was the first bird she had ever seen.

It spread its large wings in a noble expanse, gliding effortlessly, moving with perfect grace. It described the same arc she had run, but far above her, and with utter ease. She stared up, her mouth open. "Adam, what's it doing?"

Adam shrugged. "Flying."

Flying. Eve watched in awe. Then she breathed deeply, her chest rising, set off running so fast that her legs threatened to crumple beneath her, and then, with an exultant shout, leaped into the air.

Her dry, raw throat rasped as she fought for breath. Adam was supporting her back as she struggled to sit up. "Why did you do that?" he asked in bewilderment.

"I was only trying to fly," she gasped back.

"Fly?!?" He stared at her. "We can't fly!"

"Why not?"

"We don't have wings," he said, in that same tone, implying that his answer was utterly obvious.

"Wings?" She looked at the bird, still circling above them. It had seemed to lie on the air, but now she saw that it maintained some sort of balance with its wings. How, she could not tell, but she did see the necessity as she gazed sorrowfully into the sky.

Adam was watching her still. When she met his eyes, he said, "There are more places to see."

More? Still more fantastic places to explore? A moment ago she could not have conceived of anything besides forest. Now fields had stretched the limits of her imagination, and he was saying that there was more. She jumped to her feet and followed him eagerly, wishing that he would not walk so slowly.

The way was long and Eve saw many things along the way, new plants she had overlooked, strange animals, which all came to her and bowed their heads that she might stroke them. Some were far larger than she was, others small enough to hold in her hand, but all bowed to both her and Adam.

Soon she heard a soft purring noise and smelled a new and different smell, tangy and almost bitter. "What's that?" she asked, breathing deeply and turning her head to hear better.

"Come see." They walked on, and the smell and the sound became stronger. The ground beneath her feet changed from soft, moist black soil to hard, hot sand. She stopped to take a handful of it and let it sift through her fingers. The trees became fewer and further apart, and then suddenly there were no more, there was only sand, and Adam was gesturing and saying, "Look."

Eve was looking. Her eyes could not open wide enough to look as much as she wanted to. Before her lay a vast expanse of blue-green liquid, moving as if it were alive. It was making the purring noise, now filling her ears so that she scarcely heard Adam's request to "look". Animals far different from the others she had seen so far moved languidly within the transparent turquoise depths, flying slowly.

Adam walked to the water's edge and waded in without hesitation, and after a moment, she followed. The water was both cold and warm, and caressed her hot body as the wind had done, but much more firmly. She walked further out, the swimming creatures approaching her to be stroked, and the cool, warm water embraced her softly. Her head leaned back in pleasure. Her arms played with the water, dappling the surface with ripples and drops. She watched the tiny waves move away and vanish. Then she raised one hand high over her head and brought it down onto the water with a hard slap, sending a sparkling shower of glimmering drops between her laughing face and the sun.

 

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The Fortunate Fall
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