Chapter Eleven

Birds began to call bleakly in the chilly air, and Eve knew it was morning. She frowned, not opening her eyes, and nestled under the warm skins. She hated getting up now. It meant trying to smile at Adam and answer him sweetly as he ordered her about, his commands often making her tasks far more difficult than necessary. Sometimes he would decide that she had offended him and would hit her. She would stand still for a moment, struggling to bring her rage under control, and then force herself to smile at him as her stomach lurched, as repulsed by her actions as it had been by poison foods.

She waited for him to leave to hunt, but he seemed to take much longer to get ready now than he had before he had decided to rule over her. He would demand certain things for his morning meal, and then complain if she didn't have whatever he wanted. She would be sure to have it the next morning, but then he would want something else. Every complaint he voiced made her cringe; she never knew when he was going to strike her. When he had eaten, he would insist on her help in preparing to hunt, far more help than he needed. She worked as quickly as she could, but she never satisfied him. When he left, she would relax all over. Then she could break her fast and begin the day's work, unmolested until noon, when he returned to eat and to give her whatever he had caught to prepare. He then left until evening, and she was free of him until then. In the evening, she would have to cook for him, take care of his clothes and tools. When they went to bed, she would lie tense in the darkness, waiting to see if he would want her that night. It was not as repulsive or painful as it had been that first night, but still she dreaded it. Until she heard the deeper breathing that meant he had gone to sleep, she could not even lie relaxed, let alone sleep. Often after he was asleep, she would lie awake, angry and frustrated, trying to think of some way to escape him. She never could. He would catch her if she did not die first. She was as trapped as she had been in the Garden.

All of these unpleasant thoughts came back to her as she lay in bed, pretending to still be asleep. She felt no wish to get up. She wanted to stay here until Adam disappeared. She had escaped the Garden, but now she had passed into another prison, that word the serpent had used, and now she had no serpent to show her the way out. Now she was alone.

She heard Adam moving beside her. "Get up, Eve," he said in that low, soft voice he used when he was threatening her. She opened and rubbed her eyes, glanced around fuzzily, and dragged herself to her feet. "You've certainly gotten lazy in the mornings, Eve," he continued in the same tone. She despaired, knowing what was coming if she couldn't force herself to answer him as he wanted her to.

She rubbed her eyes again and managed a weak smile. "I'm sorry, Adam," she murmured. "I'll try to—"

Her stomach revolted more violently than it ever had before. Her entire body convulsed, her knees buckled, she doubled over. Trying desperately to control herself, she stumbled out of the shed and threw up into the bushes.

Adam followed her, staring in bewilderment. "Eve," he gasped, "what's wrong?" To her amazement, he seemed actually concerned.

Her head seemed to be spinning at a sickening rate. She sat down carefully, feeling too weak and tired to support her own weight. "I… don't know," she mumbled, closing her eyes against the dizziness.

He knelt beside her. "Did you eat something poison?" he asked, putting his hand on her arm gingerly.

With a great effort, she thought back over what she had eaten the day before. Nothing she hadn't eaten hundreds of times already. "Don't think so," she got out. Speaking was so hard. It seemed that moving her body took such great effort, as if she were lifting something far too heavy for her strength. She felt the ground fall away. Adam was lifting her and carrying her inside. He laid her on her bed gently. He had never done anything so gently. Eve thought in confusion that she should be astonished, but was too tired to be. He covered her up and moved her hair out of her face with great care, as her mind hurtled and lurched in some endless dark sea of chaos.

"Eve," he whispered, "do you need me to stay with you today?"

What could she need? "No," she managed. "Go hunt."

"Are you sure?"

Didn't he understand how hard it was for her to speak? She took a few deep breaths. "Yes…."

"All right. I'll come back as soon as I catch something. Wait! Do you want some food, or water, or anything?"

"No…."

"All right. I'll be back soon." She heard the faraway sounds of him standing, gathering his weapons, and leaving the shed. She lay very still, waiting for the dizziness to leave her.

***

He was back at noon, as usual, and by this time she had recovered. Fearful that he might become angry now that she was well, she had his meal waiting for him when he arrived, and smiled the meek smile she had learned to assume. "Thank you so much for helping me this morning, Adam," she said, wondering why he accepted her words without suspicion when they sounded so false to her. "I feel so much better now."

"Good," he said, all of his concern gone instantly as he sat down to eat. She took the goat he had caught and set it beside the fire. She would begin to skin it when he left. "What do you think was wrong?" he asked.

"I don't know." She frowned. The mysterious bleeding had not come in three months. "My body's done strange things ever since… since I ate the apple. I don't understand it."

"That is part of your penance," Adam said. Eve didn't argue. She sat there eating the raspberries that had just ripened and suddenly said, "I wish we had some wintergreen berries."

Adam's eyes opened so wide that they seemed to bulge out of his head. "Wintergreen berries?" he repeated incredulously.

"Yes."

"Eve, it's fall. Wintergreen berries won't be ripe for months."

She sighed. "I know." Yet all she could think about was wintergreen berries. She wanted their taste more than anything else right now. She felt that everything would be all right if only she could have a handful of those berries.

The patronizing look had returned to his face. "Woman is a mystery," he said, smiling smugly.

***

Eve's stomach began to swell. She threw up every morning for a few months, and then the sickness ceased to return to her. She was hungry all the time, and ate far more than Adam did. Her stomach grew and grew, making her movements clumsy. She had abandoned all thoughts of running away, at least for the time being; with this strange swelling to balance, it would be impossible to take care of herself. Even now she could barely trudge around to gather the fruits and vegetables every morning. She wished again that she knew of some way to make the trees and plants grow near her shelter, but they seemed to sprout in random places and she saw nothing she could do about it.

Her stomach continued to grow. She wondered why, and what she could do about it. Would it ever stop? Or would it just keep on until she couldn't move at all? Her back always ached and she felt oddly tired. All she wanted to do was lie in bed and eat.

Then one afternoon, as she was sitting in front of the shed slowly preparing a skin to be used for clothing, water flowed everywhere and soon the horrible pains started. They would seize her and then leave for a time, but always returned, more painful and more quickly each time. When Adam came back in the evening, he found their meat burned in the fire, the fresh skin and the tools she had used in preparing it scatted on the ground, and Eve lying curled up, sweat pouring down her face, features contorted inpain.

He did what he could. He wiped her face and brought her cold water, but nothing he thought of trying could relieve the pain. The blood began to flow soon, and Eve thought dazedly that all the blood she had not shed for months must be fighting to get out now. Then the pain became so great that she fainted, and even unconscious she still felt it.

***

She named him "I have created", remembering when she had tried to create life in the Garden and failed. Cain was tiny and weak, and she despaired of how such a helpless creature could survive in this harsh world. Perhaps with good food he would grow stronger, but all he could consume was the white fluid which came from her breasts. This fluid had never appeared before, and it confused her that it should appear now, when it was needed. Woman was indeed a mystery!

In a few months she discovered that little Cain did grow. He soon sat up and looked at things, and she thought that someday he would walk and talk and be as big as she or Adam. And if he did — if he became a man someday — then she would no longer be alone in this world, as she had been ever since the serpent had been taken from her.

When her stomach began to grow again, and the monthly flow of blood once more ceased, she knew what it was this time. This time she waited eagerly for the appearance of her second child, happily watching Cain grow taller and begin to take wobbly steps. The poor boy had so many huge tasks ahead of him. He had to learn to control his body and to talk — even now he could barely form the most simple of words — and after that arduous task was through, he had to learn all the skills that would be necessary for him to survive here. Perhaps life would be easier when they were grown and could help with the work. But then, with two more people to feed…. More food was already needed with one tiny person and Adam and Eve had to work much harder to obtain it all. Eve racked her brain for easier, quicker methods, but still they had to struggle. She pondered plans for lightening their burden, but all of the possibilities she saw required weary effort. She lay awake at night, searching her mind for some way.

She had to forget escape.

When her second son was born, she thought of how she had tried to give breath to that clay statue, and she named her new child "breath". Abel was even smaller than Cain had been, and seemed to take much longer to grow. She fed them both as much as they would eat, and watched their slow growth.

She couldn't always find enough fruit to satisfy them all, and Adam's catches were no longer sufficient. They lived, but every night they went to bed hungry. She wondered as she tried to sleep if there wasn't some place which offered more abundance to its inhabitants.

At last, one night when Adam had not caught anything at all, explaining that there were fewer animals around and all of them knew to avoid him, she decided that they would have to move. They would have to find some more plentiful place, some place that could give them a more comfortable life.

The next night Adam sat by the fire gnawing the last few bits of meat from a bone, and she held Abel, and Cain played in the dust with the tools Eve had made from bones and rocks. Eve said, "I wonder if, further east, there are more abundant fruits and animals."

Adam looked at her, then turned his head speculatively east, as if he could see the imagined plush forests Eve mused about. She quietly tended Abel, knowing that she might not have to speak again. If she had succeeded in giving the beginning of her idea to Adam, then he could believe that he had thought of it himself. That would make it all much easier.

A few evenings later, she discovered that it had worked. Adam came home with three deer for her to prepare. This would keep her and her sons' stomachs full for days. He said, "Eve, I'm leaving for a few days. I'm going to explore the east, to see if there are more abundant forests there."

He sat down to rest, and she asked, in the soft voice she had learned to use when speaking to him, "That's wonderful, Adam. How did you think of that?"

He paused, thinking. Then he smiled his old smile, the one she had seen so often in the Garden, serene and full of assurance. "God whispered it inside my head. Obviously he wants us to move eastward." With that, he took his food and began to eat. "I'll leave at dawn," he said with a full mouth, and he did not speak again that night.

 

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