Chapter Eight

Adam and Eve trudged on. The air was brutally hot. The suns till scorched their skin. The bottoms of their feet were sore and hardening against the hot sand. Sweat poured freely down their bodies, making them glisten. There was a trail of salty drops behind them.

Eve had been, at first, breathless with anticipation for the new things she was to see, but now, having walked so long and seen nothing but sand, she was beginning to wonder if this was all there was outside the Garden. She had been walking in this unbearable heat all day, and had seen nothing new, nothing to break the monotony. If she were not in pain, this would be as boring as the Garden. She was tired, hot, and hungry. The serpent had promised her new knowledge, but how could she force it out of a world of barren sand?

Beside her, Adam suddenly crumpled to the ground. She sighed and knelt next to him, slapping his cheeks lightly to revive him. He had fainted dozens of times during the day, and every time she had had to stop and wake him. At first he had pleaded without stopping to God to allow them back into the Garden, but no reply had come. Now he only resumed his babbling prayers when he was roused from his faints.

Now, as she shook him, he suddenly sat bolt upright, fully awake and trembling violently. "O most gracious Father!" he cried. "Forgive your wayward children! Allow we poor sinners back into your generous care!"

"Generous?" muttered Eve. "With nothing to do but sit around watching the grass grow?"

"Grant us deliverance, o most merciful God, for thy name is truth!"

"If his name is truth, then why did he lie to us about the fruit?" Eve demanded impatiently. She had argued with every one of his prayers, but he had seldom bothered to answer her as he beseeched the sky for help. "He said we would die if we ate it, and we haven't. We're still here and alive."

"But we will die soon!" Adam cried, curling up on the ground and hiding his face, his body shaking with sobs. Eve grew more annoyed.

"We will if you don't help me look for somewhere we can live!" she snapped, pulling him to his feet. Adam moaned pitifully, but did not resist. She began walking forward again, swiftly and purposefully, and he followed miserably. He was far too dejected to resist her commands; he was too frightened to resist the wind. She dragged him farther away from the forbidden Garden, ignoring his complaints.

"I'm hungry, Eve. I'm thirsty. I'm tired. I'm too hot," he would whine, as if there were something she could do bout it.

"So am I!" she snapped back at last.

"Well, you deserve it. It's your own fault."

"What?"

"You're the one who ate the apples. This is all your fault."

"I can't believe this! You ate an apple too!"

"You told me to."

"I did not! Ohhh." She turned away in frustration. He had convinced himself that it was true. She would never be able to reason with him.

If you hadn't made me eat the apple, I would still be in the Garden."

"I wish you were," she muttered.

"Well, you've received your just punishment. You've been turned out for your disobedience. Now if only our just Father would see that it was not my fault and allow his loyal servant to return!"

"If he were so just, he would believe you were innocent, wouldn't he?" she answered, but received no reply. She heard a soft thud and sighed as she turned around. He had fainted again.

***

She had at first scanned the horizon constantly, looking for signs of the promised novelty. Now, however, she was tired, and looked at her feet as she trudged along, only occasionally glancing up to look ahead at the smooth spread of sand before her. She watched her feet, dirty and dry, moving wearily over the hot ground.

She stopped abruptly, still staring at her feet. She looked ahead, but saw nothing except more sand. She looked down again. Under her feet were thin white stones, like the ones she had dug up in the Garden, that had looked like the serpent. (The serpent….) Yet these did not look like a serpent. They looked like her, or Adam. They mocked the form of a human.

Adam stood beside her, moaning at the pain in his legs and pleading to God, who was not listening. Eve stared at the stones, half-buried in sand, an image of a human. She did not know what to think of it. At last she moved on, and Adam followed her, sulking.

***

Eve longed for the serpent. She thought of him and tears rolled down her face, mingling with the heavy sweat. She remembered that he had been the only companion in the Garden she had continued to enjoy after everything had grown familiar. He had been the only speaking creature besides Adam and herself, but Adam had never understood her as the serpent had. She thought of what the serpent had done for her and cried more bitterly.

"I see you're finally growing penitent," Adam said bitterly, glancing at her as she wept.

"Penitent!" she exclaimed, all her anger suddenly unleashed. "Why should I be penitent? I'm weeping because of what that God of yours did to the serpent, who was far more just than your God ever will be!"

"You are blasphemous!" Adam cried, horrified.

"I am truthful! What kind of being would sentence me to hopeless boredom when I had never committed any crime? What kind of God would punish an innocent creature for aiding a friend out of misery?"

"No one was ever miserable in the Garden! It is you who have brought misery into the world!"

"I was miserable in the Garden!"

"O God! Why did you give me a helpmate if she will do nothing but try to deceive me into sin?" Adam asked the sky.

"God deceived us!" she reminded him angrily, but he had fainted again and did not hear her.

***

As the sun sank nearer to the ground, Adam and Eve began to notice things besides sand. They saw rocks, and brightly colored lizards which whisked away in an instant, and strange trees with green bark and no leaves and sharp threads all over them. They stared at these things and began to have hope that soon they would find something that would give them some relief.

They noticed a dark spot on the horizon and headed for it, keeping their eyes raised to it with lifted hopes. Imagining what it might be, and thinking of the worst as well as the best of possibilities, they walked on toward that dark spot.

Adam kept glancing down to avoid the sharp stones he was not used to stepping on. As he looked down at the rock clusters they were walking over, he suddenly froze and yelled.

Eve stopped and turned to him in annoyance. "Now what?" she demanded. Adam pointed, trembling. She looked. Coiled motionless on a rock was a tiny beige snake, no longer than her forearm.

Her eyes filled with tears. The serpent had once been so great and magnificent, and now he was maimed and crippled. This tiny snake seemed a perversion of his past beauty. This snake was not her serpent, but they were brothers. She would never see her own serpent again.

A shadow fell over the snake. Eve blinked away the tears and turned, then gasped. Adam was holding a rock over his head, ready to crush the snake.

"No!" Eve shoved him backwards with all her might. He toppled and sprawled over the jagged stones, his rock falling beside him.

"Why did you do that?" he asked, more flabbergasted than he had ever been at her activities in the Garden.

"To save that snake." She saw the snake slithering away, silently and with an odd grace, and was relieved at its safety.

Adam got up, rubbing the bruises his fall had caused. "Why would you want to save a snake?" he asked, still bewildered. "It's the snake's fault we're here."

Now Eve was surprised. "I thought it was mine," she said.

Adam smiled. "No, Eve. I see now that you were helplessly beguiled by the serpent. The blame rests on him." He folded his arms with satisfaction, obviously feeling very generous.
"No!" she exclaimed. "Don't blame the serpent. It was my decision. It was my act." She waited for his answer, but he was too confused by her words to say anything. At last she said sternly, "Never hurt a snake." Then she turned and headed toward the dark spot on the horizon once more. Adam followed, silent in his doubt.

They trudged on, coming closer to their goal, the sun slowly lowering before them. They began to make out features and colors as they neared it. The animals and strange trees gradually became more plentiful. Ahead was a forest. The trees were not exactly like the trees in the Garden — their leaves and fruits were far smaller — but they were more like them than these strange green trees.

They reached the forest and their limbs sagged with relief. They wandered about, looking for food and water. They found a small stream, muddy and lukewarm, and drank from it. After the day in the desert, it was wonderful. They found a tree with small, sour green apples. Adam did not want to eat them, but they had no choice. There was no other food near, and neither had the strength to go much further without rest and sustenance.

They sat together under the tree and ate the apples, one after another, grimacing at the unfamiliar sourness. These apples were so small, scarcely larger than Eve's fist. The fruits of the Garden had been so much more flavorful and attractive. But what good was that, she thought, when there was no reason to live?

They watched the colored clouds of sunset as they ate. The colors were not nearly so brilliant as they had been in the Garden. Would anything ever be beautiful again? Perhaps this strange world held knowledge, but what if everything was small and ugly — would the knowledge make it worthwhile? She thought of herself sitting bored and idle among the splendors of the Garden and decided that it would. She waited for the silver light of the moon to appear.

It took a long time for Adam and Eve to realize that there was not to be a moon, that they were to be enveloped in total darkness. They clung to each other in terror, huddling beneath the apple tree, peering into the blackness to try to make out some sight. Now and then an animal passed, but the animals did not approach them with bowed heads as they had in the Garden. They approached boldly, sniffing inquisitively, almost threateningly. Eve learned to yell suddenly when they came too close; this often startled them into retreating.

Their limbs were sore and they were very sleepy, but they could not sleep for fear of the darkness. They stayed awake, shivering in the suddenly chilly air, looking about them in terror. Eve wondered if they would ever be able to sleep again without fearing the animals that lurked in the darkness.

The darkness. This thought awoke a new fear in her. The serpent had spoken of hardship. Was eternal darkness to be one which she must endure? She tried to imagine never being able to see clearly again. In the Garden, the idea of having a good mind which she could not use had frustrated her. The prospect of having good eyes and living without light was almost as maddening.

As the night went on, she became more and more anxious that she would never again see light. She knew of no way to survive without seeing. She could not imagine one, though she tried with all her might. Adam trembled and crouched against her. She put her arms around his shoulders, looking up at the sky with its tiny white spots, the only things she could see clearly. She wished for the return of the light.

It was a long time, but at last she thought that one end of the horizon was paler than the other. Her hopes lifting, she looked to the east, straining her tired eyes to see the greyness that was becoming paler every moment. Soon Adam, too, noticed it, and began to watch. Holding their breaths, they stared at the lightening sky.

When the light broke across the horizon, they both stood at once and cried out together in joy.

 

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