Chapter Four

Eve sat on the cliff high above the sea, staring into the changing blues and greens of the water without seeing them. A brightly colored octopus rose to the surface and explored there for a few moments before sinking back below the waves. The wind cooled Eve's skin, and she wrapped her arms around her drawn-up knees.

There was a soft swish of wings, and the serpent was beside her. Her melancholy face immediately brightened into an eager smile as she turned to welcome him. "Serpent!"

"Hello, Eve." He folded his wings and smiled. He did not smile as she and Adam did; his mouth spread only slightly. It was his eyes that smiled, narrowing in a way which made him look thoroughly pleased. She watched his face carefully. "Why are you looking at me that way?" he asked.

"I'm watching the way you smile. There's not much else to see."

The serpent's pleased expression deepened; he seemed amused. "So you find the Garden dull, although you are its mistress?"

"Am I?" she asked. "I don't think so."

"Don't all the animals obey you and bow to you?"

"Yes, but…."

"What command have they disobeyed?"

"They haven't, but… they couldn't give me anything new, or interesting."

"You don't think it's interesting that they all wait to do your bidding?"

She tilted her head to one side and considered. "I guess it is, but why should they obey me? What have I done? They've obeyed me since the first moment I lived."

"I was watching you that first day. You looked very happy."

"I was. It was all so wonderful at first. But now I've done everything so many times, and there's never anything else…."

"Yes. That's why I was watching you. I was bored. You were the first new thing in the Garden in a long time."

"You get bored, too? But you can fly."

"Eve, if you could fly, it might keep you amused for a while, but eventually that would be boring, too."

"Would it?" She tried to imagine being tired of flying, but couldn't. It seemed too wonderful. But of course, so many things had seemed wonderful when she was young, and now they were all almost repulsive in their familiarity. "Maybe."

"This Garden is a prison, beautiful as it is."

"Beautiful? I suppose it is."

The serpent laughed. "It's hard to tell when you have nothing to compare it to."

"Yes. If only the Garden were larger!" she exclaimed in despair. The serpent glanced at her sharply, a sudden speculative look in his eyes, but he said nothing. She thought over what he had said again. "What is a prison?"

"You don't…? Of course, there are no prisons in the Garden. A prison is a place where one is forced to stay against one's will."

"Oh." She puzzled further. "None in the Garden? Is there anywhere else?" The new possibility suddenly thrilled her.

The serpent hesitated, then shrugged. "There is… much that I do not know."

Eve sighed. "Another question without an answer."

The serpent encircled her gently with one of his smooth, powerful wings. "Perhaps you will find your answers someday," he comforted.

"But how?" she asked in despair. "Where in this Garden can I find answers?"

"Wait. Perhaps something will change."

"What?"

He shrugged again, withdrawing his wing. "I wish I could tell you how to change things," he said. Eve nodded wearily and slipped her arms around his neck.

"I'm glad you're here, anyway," she said. "The Garden is so full of stupid animals."

The serpent laughed. "Like that worthless husband of yours?"

"What do you mean?" she asked, surprised.

"Well, look at him. What does he do all day? Nothing but lie around and eat and stare at the animals. I'd like to see him if he had to do something useful for a change!" he said scornfully.

"Useful? Like what?"

"Like find something interesting for you to do, Eve. But think, what if the Garden didn't give him everything he needed. Would he survive then?"

"No," Eve answered promptly. "But neither could I."

"I think you could. But never mind that now. Look at his activities. Of what use are they? What good does anything he does do?"

Eve stared at him, her mind working painfully to understand what he meant. "Do you mean that he should try to find interesting things to do?" she asked.

"In a way, yes. How unfortunate that you should have been put with such a boring mate."

"He is the only man."

The serpent smiled as if he had heard a secret, and Eve watched him, but he said nothing. She laid her cheek against his cool, smooth scales. "I'm glad you're here. You're the only interesting thing there is. You know things."

He looked surprised. "I don't think I've told you anything important."

She thought. "Everything you say has new ideas in it. You make me think of new things." Her eyes suddenly lit up. "Do you know something important?"

He opened his own eyes wide. "Important? Like what?"

"Oh, how should I know? Important. You're the one who said it. Tell me!"

"Eve," he protested, "what could I possibly know that could be of importance to you?"

"I don't know! But I want to know everything, whether it's of importance to me or not!"

The serpent narrowed his golden eyes. "And what if you had an entire garden full of new things to know? Would you still want to know everything, even things that weren't important to you?"

She paused, trying to imagine it. "I'd want to know what was important to me first. There's so little to know that I have time to want lots more. Maybe everything would be important to me! I just want to find out new things all the time!"

He smiled. "Eve, if I knew anything that I thought would satisfy you, I would tell you. But I don't. Believe me, I don't. I… wish I did."

Despair descended on her once more. "There is no knowledge that could satisfy me!" she cried. "There's nothing to find out! Everything there is to know is spread out to see so easily! There's nothing hidden and nothing unexplored!"

The serpent burst out laughing.

Bewildered, she questioned him. "What is it now? Why are you laughing? Stop it! Nothing's funny!"

He tried to stifle his glee. "No, no, of course there isn't. Nothing at all."

"Then why are you laughing?" She stomped on the ground in helpless rage. There was no ease for her frustration.

"I can't tell you. I mean, I can't explain it. Really, I can't!"

"Why don't you ever answer my questions?" she yelled.

His laughter stopped instantly. "I'm sorry, Eve," he said soberly. "I would answer your questions if I could. But I can't. That's the truth."

"Why not?"

"I can't," he said, and set his jaw. She saw that questioning him further would do no good, and she turned away.

"All right," she said. "If you can't give me the answers I want, I'll find them myself. Maybe I'll go dig in that hole some more." And with that, she walked away, leaving the serpent on the edge of the cliff. He watched her walk away with brisk, purposeful strides until she was far away, and then he spread his wings and rose into the air.

 

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