Chapter Three

A day after her ride upon the serpent's back, Eve still dreamed of the exhilaration of flight. She remembered how strange and tiny everything had looked, and how free she had felt. She remembered asking the serpent eagerly to fly near a cloud, and her disappointment when it had been only cold, wet mist instead of the soft, fluffy down it had looked like. She thought enviously of the freedom to take to the air at any time. The serpent was far away on his wings; after he had finally set her down, he had flown away and she had not seen him since. She thought of his great wings, and she looked at the wings of birds and butterflies, wondering why God hadn't given her wings, too. Why was it that only a few blessed animals could escape whatever it was that bound everything else to the ground?

Eve sat up straight, forgetting her dreams of the serpent, absorbed by the sudden question which occurred to her. What was it that bound everything to the ground?

Whatever it was, it was everywhere. Adam swallowed the last mouthful of his fruit's flesh and idly dropped the pit. She watched it fall to the ground. A young koala gave a little hop, then fell back to earth. Eve watched the birds and the butterflies, who touched the ground only when they wished to. She picked up a tiny stone and tossed it into the air. It bounced a few times, always returning to the ground quickly before finally resting.

Why did everything fall so irresistibly to the ground, always? What was it that drew things? She saw nothing that pulled them. Was it like the wind, then, an unseen force?

She sat enthralled with the problem, not seeing the Garden before her, not hearing the bird's singing, not feeling the wind. Her mind was too engrossed in the question of what made things fall down.

The attraction of everything to the earth had seemed so fundamental a part of the universe that she had never thought to question it before. Now it suddenly seemed so very odd that things should always fall down that she was amazed it had never occurred to her to ask why. And why, indeed?

She did not notice when a scarlet ibis perched on her shoulder and sang piercingly into her ear. She did not notice when an entire family of macaques scampered over her lap in their play. When she suddenly became aware of the outside world once more, she found it was already night. The sun's warm yellow light had been displaced by the moon's bright silver. The moon's light was no less bright, but the Garden took on a cooler, quieter quality till the sun rose again. She had missed the shining splash of color that always spread across the sky at the changing of the lights. Adam was kneeling before her, watching her with intent concern.

"What's wrong?" she asked dazedly.

"Eve! You haven't moved or said anything all day! What's wrong?"

She stared at him. It would not have alarmed her if he had gone into a trance like this, it would have interested her. Perhaps he knew about trances like this; perhaps there was some danger to them. Suddenly she thought of the difference between the way he and she looked at the universe. It all seemed so strange and incomprehensible to her, yet he took it all without question, seeming already to understand. He had been here so much longer than she had, he knew so much more about it all. He would know. He would tell her.

She leaned forward, gripping his arm imperiously. "Adam," she said, her voice low with urgency, "why do things always fall down?" She held her breath, her muscles tense. Her eyes widened and her whole being concentrated on her ears. She could not bear to miss the smallest part of his answer.

"Where else would things fall?" he asked, bewildered.

Her body slumped, as if in that instant life had left her.

***

Eve's arms ached. It was only the second time she had felt pain greater than the fleeting scratch of a thorn or the brief burn of hot sand under her feet. The first time had been the scrapes from her failed attempt at flying, but this was worse. It hurt to move now. She gathered all her strength and raised her grimy hand to wipe the sweat from her forehead. Her stomach growled urgently, but she did not have the strength to pick a fruit. Her skin was streaked with sweat and red clay. She lay on the ground, feverish, not moving. One hand dangled in the hole she had dug.

She heard Adam's footsteps coming toward her, and did not even bother to open her eyes or turn her head. He stood beside her for a long time, looking at her and at the hole, before he spoke.

"Why did you do this, Eve?" he finally asked.

She answered wearily, "I wanted to find out what makes things fall down."

He repeated, still bewildered, "Where else would they fall?"

She forgot her fatigue and sat up quickly. "But there's nothing pulling them down," she objected. "Why don't they just float?"

Adam looked confused for a moment, then his face relaxed. "God won't let them," he answered with satisfaction.

She groaned and learned over to look down into her hole. She had dug for a full day, under the light of the moon and the sun, fighting sleep and hunger and Adam's suggestions that she should stop. She had kept on digging and digging, hoping to find whatever it was that made everything go down, but all she had found was rocks and worms and always more dirt. The hole was deeper than she was tall, yet there was only more dirt.

"Does all the dirt ever end? If I kept digging, would I find something else after a while?" she wondered aloud. Adam stared.

"There must be something wrong with you," he said meditatively. "You ask questions for no reason. God has given us everything we need."

"But I want to know!"

"Why? What good will it do with God to take care of us?"

"I don't know," she whispered, looking away. He handed her a mango, and she bit into it, holding it with both hands. Juice trickled down her chin, mingling with the sweat and dirt. She did not bother to wipe it away.

"Eve… you should go bathe."

She nodded, but did not get up. She would bathe after she had rested. This fatigue was far worse than the pleasant tiredness she always felt after a day of play. Her eyes closed again, and she tried to sleep, letting the half-eaten fruit fall to the bottom of the hole. Tired as she was, sleep would not come easily. Her limbs were full of pain, and she rolled about for several moments seeking the comfort that usually came so readily. At last she rose wearily, on legs that buckled, and wandered about the Garden, looking for a soft spot to rest on. She found a stretch of baby grass and fell upon it with relief, but the hard earth beneath it struck her body harshly. She rose again and stumbled between the trees, Adam following her with a frown of consternation. She came to a cluster of trees and sank down upon the pile of the leaves that had fallen off them. Her eyes closed, but she was still wide awake. She felt the moon's warmth beating gently on her. She wished that the moon's light was not so bright and stark. She wished that the whole Garden was enveloped in cool, dark shadow.

She lay for a long time, inviting sleep, but her awareness of the world remained just as acute. She felt the presence of Adam until he left to find a sleeping place of his own. She heard the tiny noises of the animals coming close to examine her, bowing their heads even though she could not see them. It was a long time before the world released her into sleep.

***

When she awoke, the sun was already high in its path. She had never slept so long before. Sitting up, she found that her body still ached, but she was much refreshed and her skin cried out for water. She walked unsteadily to the lake, plucking a peach and eating it on the way, and found Adam already in the water, playing with the bright silver fish. She waded in after him, enjoying the cold, clean liquid as never before. The red dust floated away as she plunged in. She ducked under and swam about for several moments, trying to imitate the movements of the fish that swam around Adam. The water eased the dirt and salt from her hair. She ran her fingers through it underwater and shook her head, smiling. Then she burst to the surface with a cry of triumph.

Adam looked startled. "What?"

"I can do it!" she cried. She ran onto the shore and seized a handful of fruit from the first tree she reached, devouring it.

"Do what?"

"Anything!"

Adam shook his head. "You can't create life. Only God can."

She laughed, reckless with confidence. She had failed, but she had recovered! And she was happy! "Yes I can!" she taunted.

He stared at her, shocked.

"I can!" she cried again, throwing her fruit into the lake to scatter the fish. She dropped to her knees in the clay and took great handfuls of it. She played with the clay for several moments, then leaned back on her heels. "See!"

It was a small sculpture of Adam, small enough to be held easily in her arms.

Adam shook his head again. "It's not alive. You can't make life, as God did."

"Maybe I can." She moved her mouth close to the statue's and exhaled deeply, as she had been told God had done to give life to her and to Adam. Then she leaned back to see the effect. There was none. Leaning over, she tried again. Still nothing. Perhaps Adam was right, and this was something she could not do. But why should there be anything she couldn't do? She just wasn't doing it right. She picked the statue up, and a few limbs fell off. She would have to make it so that it wouldn't fall apart, and so that it could move. How could she make something like that out of clay? Adam did not seem to be made of clay, but she knew he was. He had told her that God had said he was. Something had changed when he had come to life, but what? But she would discover that later. Now she had to figure out how to make her statue in the shape she needed. Perhaps when she had formed it well, her breath would give it life. But how? She looked around the shore of the lake, then smiled when she saw the clay nearest the grass.

Heading for the clay near the trees, she thought of how she could shape it at her will. The clay here was dry and hard. She sat down near it and began to examine the clumps and pieces carefully, turning over possibilities in her mind. How could she make the pieces hold together without preventing their movement? She noticed the grip of her hand on the hard piece of clay. Adam leaned over, grasped her wrist, and took the piece to look at it, perhaps hoping to find some clue to her thoughts. She used her elbow to wipe the water from her forehead, her wrist still in his grip. Then, eyes wide, she snatched her arm away and plunged her hands into the clay once more. She molded the handfuls into two long sticks, and then formed a loop at the end of one of them. She pushed the first stick through this loop and tested it. It moved, but the first stick fell out. She put a knob at the end of the first stick, and another at the other end, vaguely resembling a foot. The mechanism worked as she had hoped. "Ah!" she exclaimed. Then she put her hand into the clay again.

It took her all day and all night. The sleepiness was even more intoxicating this time, but still she resisted it. She experimented with different versions of the joint she had fashioned, trying to make them work as her own limbs did. Adam stared at her from a distance, confused and worried. Every now and then he would approach her and ask, "Why are you doing this?"

The first time, she was so taken aback that she could only say, "Why not?" She thought about the question as she worked, and the second time she answered, "To see if I can." The third time, exasperated, she demanded, "What else is there to do?"

"You could eat some fruit, or go swimming, or play with the animals, or…."

"I've done all those things a hundred times. I know all about them. I don't want to do them again!"

The head of her statue was the last thing she made. She spent a long time on it, carefully shaping the features in imitation of Adam's. Then she attached it to the neck, molding the joint into place. The job was complete and perfect, and she was tired and hungry again. She set it on a rock where it would get the full light of sun and moon and left it to dry and harden. She wearily forced herself to eat a banana and then lay down to fall into deep sleep.

When she woke, the statue was dry. She held it reverently in her arms for a moment before bending her head over it and breathing deeply into its tiny nostrils.

Nothing happened.

She tried again, and again, but there was no result. She sighed in resignation, laying the statue aside. Perhaps she couldn't do it, or perhaps, in spite of all her work and the perfection of the form, she still hadn't done it right. Perhaps it had to be like them inside as well. But there was no way she could find out what their bodies were like inside, no way she could even guess. She would have to give up on this endeavour, at least for now. She stared at her beautiful doll unhappily for a moment, laid it gently back on its rock, and then brought her fist down with all her strength to crush her masterpiece.

 

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