Chapter Six

Eve sat on a branch of a eucalyptus tree, swinging her legs slowly. She was watching Adam playing on the ground with the animals of the Garden. He stroked and petted them, and they leaned their furry heads back, eyes closed in pleasure. A goat rolled on the warm, soft dirt, wriggling happily. Other animals curled up contentedly in comfortable spots to nap. Half a dozen cheetah cubs were chasing each other's waving little tails. Adam smiled as an ostrich caressed him with its fluffy plumes. He ate a bunch of sweet grapes, licking the juice from his fingers and chin with the help of a half-grown ferret. Everyone in the sunny little clearing was happy, but Eve, who sat above it, was not.

Adam enjoyed the simple physical pleasures of eating, stroking and resting with the same blissful completeness the animals did. Eve, too, often enjoyed these things, but they could only hold her attention for a short time. The satisfaction she gained from play or rest was shallow and brief. For the kind of absorption Adam and the animals displayed, she needed something more.

God had given her and Adam minds far greater than those of the simple, happy animals of the Garden. Surely if they were greater, they were intended to be used for greater things. Yet Adam's pastimes were those of the animals he played with. By what right did he have dominion over all of these creatures? He could be quite different from them, and far superior, yet he was not. He was one of them. Why had God given them these minds if they were not to use them for anything better than the mindless diversions of mindless animals?

Eve was bored by the simple, fleeting pleasures the Garden could offer her body. She wanted to know and understand everything, but there was so little to be known. She had had to invent bizarre and outrageous questions to learn anything at all, and she had always come away knowing little more than she had before. She wished that her mind could be wiped clean so that she could learn it all again. She wished that there was another Garden for her to explore. She wished that there was even one thing in the Garden that she had not discovered. The only things she did not know thoroughly and in every way were the two trees in the center of the Garden, and knowledge of them meant death. And suddenly, Eve knew what death meant. She sat motionless in horror.

Death was not merely eternal stillness, forever unable to move or speak or see. Death was the absence of thought.

Her mind recoiled from the concept even as it stumbled to grasp it. To cease thinking; what could be more terrifying? And how could God, who Adam spoke of so confidently, be so cruel for such a simple crime? Eve's soul quailed at the prospect of a sheer, gaping horror, utter darkness, void even of blackness; oblivion.

She put her face in her hands and wished that she could run far away from that hideous, poisonous fruit. She wished it were in another world, where she would never be at any risk of touching it. She wished that it did not exist.

Those two trees were the only part of the Garden she did not know inside and out, and her new terror would not allow her even to go near them. Better eternal boredom than oblivion! Yet her mind was constantly roving, searching for something that she did not know. If her mind could be so constantly reaching for things beyond the Garden she knew so well, then it must be able to hold so much more! But there was no more. She had been blessed with a fine and useless instrument. Her ability far exceeded her opportunities of using it. A great portion of her mind lay empty and asleep, yet longing to be awakened. It cried and sobbed, beating against the barriers of its slumber even as it slept. She wished for something that could awaken the unused chambers of her hungry mind. She wanted to see all that she could see; she wanted to perceive everything in her range of vision.

How she desired it! It suddenly seemed intolerable, to go on not knowing as much as she could know, to know everything there was to know and still be able to understand so much more, if only there was more. She longed for some desperate and violent action she could take that would give her new worlds to explore, even if pain and trouble came with it. She would take trials and punishments, if only she could learn something new. She was so bored. When she was first created, she never would have dreamed that boredom could be so unbearable, so trying, yet now she wished she could fly so that she could fly in a frenzied panic away from it. With a furious chaos raging inside her, she sat still and quiet on the branch of a eucalyptus tree.

She stared at Adam, who was drowsily smiling as a hummingbird buzzed about him, brushing him with the tips of its whirring wings. She had seen the hummingbird playing with him in this manner a thousand times. When she was new, she had enjoyed it, giggling as the bird tickled her with its feathertips. Now she impatiently brushed the bird aside when it approached her, usually directing it towards Adam, who always and unfailingly delighted when he saw it. The dozens of times he and this bird had met did nothing to dim his enthusiasm for their game.

How could he do it? How could he never get bored? How could he constantly pursue the same activities and never, never get tired of them? Why was it that for him, nothing ever seemed to change — not only the Garden, but his attitude toward it as well? She understood that God had given her all of his curiosity, but she could not comprehend having a great mind and not wanting to use it. There it was, right in his head, waiting to be used, and he didn't even care. But perhaps that was just as well, because there wasn't anything to use it for.

But there was a way. She was sure there was, because of the serpent's words and manner. He knew something. She must make him tell her. She must.

What had he meant, God was not all he claimed to be? God claimed to be creator of the universe, of the Garden, of all life. He claimed to be their father, and just and loving. But if he was not the creator, who was? And if he were not just… but Eve could not think of that possibility. It was too frightening. It seemed almost a contradiction, like thinking of oblivion: something that did not exist. And loving? What use was his love if he was not just, if he was lying to them, if he was depriving them of what she desired most? And was he any of these things that he claimed to be? Eve racked her brain with these new questions, but did not welcome them, because she knew she could never find answers to them. All she could do was ponder, fruitlessly, forever.

And how could she learn? She wanted to, more than anything. The serpent knew how, she was certain. But how could she make him tell her? She tried to think of a reward she could give him, but everything in the Garden stood waiting to be taken by anyone who so desired. There was nothing she could offer him that he could not get without her. She then thought of threats. But the only thing she might do to him, was hurt his body, and he was so large and powerful — and he could fly. Even if she could harm him, he would fly away before she had the chance.

That left only one route: entreaty. She would have to plead with him to share his secret, and perhaps she could move him to take pity on her and he would tell her. She thought of what she might say to him, of what would be likely to arouse his compassion. She thought of different angles to argue from, and of the few promises she could offer: never to hate him for telling her the secret, always to be grateful, and never to utter any word of regret, no matter what hardships the secret might bring. She was willing to bear anything for new knowledge, this she knew, and she would do anything to make the serpent confide in her.

She slipped down from the eucalyptus tree and went to find the serpent, in search of his precious scrap of knowledge that would expose worlds to her.

 

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