Chapter Ten

Eve sat crosslegged in front of the shed. She had propped logs up in front of the crevice to give them more room in their little shelter, filling the gaps with smaller sticks and hanging the skins of the animals they had caught around the inside to help seal the cold out. Of course, now it was warm and there was no need, but the cold had returned twice before and might again. The floor near the walls was lined, too, with the tools of bone and rock she had made, and with the fur garments they wore. They were actually getting more than they needed, but after being worn for a while, the skins grew ragged and began to fall apart. When their clothes got like this, she hung them on the walls where they could still be of some use, and made a new garment as soon as a new animal was killed.

Now she was in front of the shed, tending a fire and skinning a fresh kill. Adam had brought it to her at midday and then set out again. The deerskin bag beside her was full of the fruit she had found that morning, so she could devote the afternoon to preparing this rabbit. She was grateful for the warm weather, because this work had to be done outside; one thing she was not able to do was bring light inside the shed. She had once thought of bringing a burning stick inside, but had immediately realized that all the skins and logs would catch on fire, destroying their shelter.

Laying the bloody skin aside, she cut away the large pieces of meat and dropped them into the edges of the fire, where she could draw them out with a stick. The wet blood sizzled, and the smell of cooking meat instantly rose with force. She smiled at the scent and took the larger bones, which she had been able to cut out. Wiping the blood away on dirt and grass, she cleaned them and then took them inside the shed, laying them on a pile of other unused bones. Eventually she would make them into tools of some sort, perhaps some kind she hadn't even thought of yet. Returning to the fire, she lifted her stone knife and began to scrape at the bloody inside of the rabbitskin. It took a long time, but after much work the inside was clean and smooth. She held it over the fire, just out of the flames' reach, watching the skin become light brown.

Picking up a stick, she poked at the meat in the fire, turning it over. Then she turned back to her skin. Thinking of what they needed, she held it up, deciding how it could be fashioned into clothing. She glanced up and looked around at the trees frequently. Her alertness was rewarded; soon a large gray wolf appeared, lured by the scent of her cooking meat. Eve was always prepared for such emergencies. In one hand she grasped her spear, in the other a long dry stick, one end of which had been in the fire since she had built it that morning. Holding the spear ready to thrust, and waving the torch threateningly, she ran toward the wolf as he neared, yelling as loud as she could. He crouched, took a few steps back, and perked his ears. She came nearer, her fire preceding her. The wolf pinned his ears back and skulked away. She watched until he disappeared among the trees before returning to her fire.

Replacing her spear and torch, she settled down again and picked up the skin. It was wonderful to be able to work in the daytime. Before, she had had to gather fruit all day and then stay up late at night in order to prepare tools and clothing. Now, though, things were easier, now that she knew how to do things. The weapons and traps she had made for Adam made his hunting far easier; she knew where to find many more edible plants now; the comfort of their new clothes and tools made all of the working much faster.

The serpent had been right; she had learned things which she had never imagined in the Garden. She stopped her work for a moment and looked westward, thinking of him, wondering where he was now. Was he happy? Tears came to her eyes. She hoped so.

Blinking the tears away, she bent back over the skin, stopping every few moments to poke at the pieces of rabbit in the fire. She was still working diligently when Adam returned, without another animal.

She looked up. "It's all right, the rabbit's enough, I have a whole bag of fruit." She dropped the skin on her lap and reached over to open the bag and display her findings. "This skin will be a new loincloth for you. It's almost done. So's the meat; we can eat it soon. Sit down; we'll eat in a few moments." He did, silently. She did not notice his silence, because he seldom answered her orders or reports except with whines or prayers. "Here, go ahead and start." She took a carrot and put it in his hand. He held it without taking a bite. "Here, the skin's done. It should fit." She tossed it to him and poked the rabbit meat with her stick. "It's ready." She pulled it away from the flames to let it cool, then took a few berries and ate them. "Adam, I've been thinking about a new trap you could hunt with. It would be a—"

"BE QUIET!"

She sat motionless, her mouth open with astonishment. He had never, ever spoken like this before. As she watched, he rose and stood over her threateningly.

"You've been ordering me about as if you had a right to since we left the Garden. That had better stop now. God told you that I should rule over you, and from now on I'm going to. Don't you ever try to order me around again."

Hot anger flashed through her shock. "If it hadn't been for me, you'd be dead now."

"If it hadn't been for you, woman, I never would have been exiled from the Garden. I never would have eaten the apple if you hadn't tempted me."

She stood up, furious. "I never told you to eat it. You snatched it away from me and took your bite before I could say a word."

"SILENCE!" he thundered again. "Don't try to tempt me again, woman! You were meant to be my helpmeet and you have been my downfall. All you can do now is try to atone. All of my misfortunes have been caused by you."

"You are being ridiculous!" she spat at him, and he pulled back his hand and slapped her with all his strength. Her cheek burning, she became silent and thoughtful with surprise. He had seldom dared to annoy her in any way when they had been struggling to live. It was only now, when they were comfortable and secure, that he thought to assert the authority God had promised him.

And this was why God had not seemed worried that she would not obey Adam. He had known that something like this would happen. Now Adam was demanding her obedience and she was helpless.

She thought of the animals he had killed. He was strong. If he dared to hit her and yell at her, mightn't he…? A shudder of panic shook her.

For now, she would have to pretend to yield. Later she might be able to run away from him, but the thought of the struggle to survive this would take frightened her.

She took a deep breath, for she was trembling all over. Then she raised her head and managed a meek smile.

"Of course, Adam," she said softly. "Would you like to eat now?"

A brilliant smile of triumph spread over his face, and they sat down to eat.

They ate in silence, Adam still basking in his victory, Eve pensive. She was pondering about how she could survive without his strength to help her. Two pairs of hands did make things easier. Hunting would be harder for her, and it would take so much time to hunt and search for fruit, and prepare it for eating, and make the tools, and make clothes…. She smiled suddenly when she realized that he was only doing one thing for them, yet it took him all day. Hunting was time-consuming, and for her, smaller and slower, it would probably take longer. Of course, they ate much more fruit than meat, but, remembering the fatigue she had felt before they began hunting, she was certain that without the meat, full of energy and life, they would not survive. It seemed to offer some kind of nourishment that plants could not. She would have to hunt herself if she left him. How could she do everything?

It would be easier if the animals were as docile as those in the Garden had been, always lingering nearby, so that whenever they needed meat they could simply walk outside their shed and kill some creature. But Eve did not know of any animal that could be made to stay near one place and not run when its brothers were slaughtered. Or it would be nice if all the plants and trees and vines which bore fruits they could eat grew near each other, right next to their shelter, in closely packed abundance. If only she could make them all grow together. But she knew of no way to control plants.

Perhaps she could hunt only with traps. Then she could fetch the animals in them and reset them every morning and night, instead of running through the woods all day, hoping to spear some creature. But what if her traps didn't catch enough? And what if some wild beast chased her? She sighed, thinking of all the work that any action she took would involve. It would be so hard. It would be like those months of struggling and constant cold and hunger, when she had had to stay up late at night and then rise at dawn in order to do everything that needed to be done.

And of course there was the simple problem of how to get away from Adam in the first place. Leave at dawn, of course, right after he left to hunt. But where would she go? Further east? And what would she do if he found her? He could outrun her, and once he had caught her, there was no telling what he might do, and no way for her to stop him. He would certainly go after her once he realized she was gone, and how could she hide from him? Even if he went in the wrong directions at first, he could eventually choose the right one. In order to evade him, she would have to keep on moving forever, always heading further away from this place. There was no way she could lead as comfortable a life as she now did without settling somewhere. She would have to gather fruit as she walked and hope she could catch small animals, ones she could prepare and eat quickly, without leftovers to carry with her. She would have almost no time for making tools or clothes. She would have to travel deep into the night and rise at dawn, once more always denying herself the sleep she wanted so badly. She began to understand what had been good about the Garden, where all the food she could want fell into her hands from every tree, where no animals threatened her, where she had never been cold, where she could take a blissful nap at any moment when she was tired.

Yes, there had been good things about the Garden.

But still, there had been nothing to do. Here, she had to work, but it was not the drudgery of the first months. It was almost a pastime. And during her struggle she had learned how to do so many things. She took pleasure now in performing the skills she had invented, in seeing the things she made. She enjoyed discovering new, easier ways to do things, new uses for her tools. Every now and then she even had enough leisure to do something completely useless, just for pleasure. Sometimes she would chant the rhythms of sounds she had invented in the Garden, imitating crickets and birds and oceans and brooks, rearranging them into different songs, enjoying their beauty. She had made a few small clay sculptures, like the one she had smashed in the Garden when she could bring it to life. She had made one of herself, and one of a tiger — there didn't seem to be any tigers in this new world — and a few other animals. Once she had scratched images in the dirt, in the shapes of trees and animals and Adam and herself. These things had not served any real purpose, and had not given them more food or more leisure, yet she had felt so happy doing them and looking upon the results. This was not something she wanted to give up.

She could not think of any way to escape from Adam, at least not without returning to the life of constant struggle she had barely survived. Though she would never return to the Garden, she had to admit that the struggle outside had been terrible. Perhaps if she had known what she would face, she would not have eaten the apple. Yes, the serpent had warned her, and the serpent had been right; she had had no idea what she had spoken of. She had lived through the struggle once, but the last things she wanted was to go through it again. For now, at least, she would have to stay with Adam.

She tossed the last bone aside, rose, and went into the shed. She was too exhausted with her new worry to clean things up as she usually did. Instead, she went to the pile of skins she slept on and began to remove some of her clothes; it made sleeping more comfortable.

Adam followed in a moment, carrying a small stick, burning at one end. In his free hand he carried several stones. These he placed on the ground in a small circle. He broke off the burning end of his stick, placed it inside the circle, then broke the rest of it into small pieces and added them to his tiny fire. This finished, he looked up from his fire and stared at Eve.

He seemed to be noticing every detail of her body. To sleep, she usually only wore a wrapping around her loins, and sometimes one to support her breasts as well. Much more of her skin was exposed than in the daytime, when she went outside and worked. Eve suddenly felt acutely aware of her exposure, the way she had felt under his furtive stare in the Garden after they had eaten the fruit. She had wanted to cover her naked body then, and she wanted to cover it now. Avoiding his gaze, she awkwardly knelt beside the skins, slid between them, and pulled the top ones up to her chin, leaving nothing exposed. She glanced at Adam again, looked away, and then looked back.

He was standing there, watching her. Once she was covered, he slowly and deliberately strode over to her, until he was standing beside her, feet planted apart, arms akimbo, looking down at her with a peculiar intensity. Fear swept through her, though she could not guess why. He had no reason to beat her now, so why was he looking at her like this? Why did he seem so dangerous as he stood above her? She felt small and helpless looking up at his height as she lay beneath her skins, clutching them with trembling fingers. What was he going to do to her?

He stood still for an agonizingly long second, then leaned over. She shrank back against the floor. He grasped the edges of her covers and ripped them away, leaving her lying there, covered only by her top and loincloth. Senselessly, she tried to conceal her body with her arms. It was absurd; what good could it do? And what, oh what was he going to do? He reached for her top and pulled it off. She gasped in fear, wrapping her arms around her breasts. He pulled away her loincloth, and she felt the cold air on her. It frightened her more. She clenched her legs together to conceal what she could, and began to sit up, to curl up and hide her body. He pushed her back roughly by the shoulders. Her head hit the ground, painfully. He caught her wrists and pulled her arms away from her, exposing her entire body to his view. Then, as she squirmed in uncomprehending terror, he smiled. The smile only increased her fear. It was like no smile she had ever seen.

"Eve," he said, his voice strangely soft and low, "you must never conceal yourself from me."

Then he laid beside her, holding her tightly as she tried to twist away, and did things that neither of them had imagined before. When he was tired and satisfied, he returned to his own bed, as Eve lay weeping silently in hers, promising herself that she would find a way to escape him, no matter what misery she brought upon herself.

 

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