• Meg Gaertner

Eve Rising (1/3)

It is warm, and damp, and dark when first she becomes aware, when first she has a self to become aware of. Then pain, burning and stinging, engulfs her awareness. Light, she hears the whisper, and she winces eyes new to sight. Slowly, so slowly, the excruciating brightness fades and she recognizes then the cold. Air, pressing close to her, caressing, sends her to shivering. A figure gradually comes into focus before her. Man, the helpful voice supplies. Mate. The man stoops over, clutching his side, the place she came from. She feels a little perturbed by the strangeness of this, but then acknowledges that all is strange to her now, so she can’t really say.

Turning from the man, she looks around her. Trees, and flowers. Dirt. A garden, she is told, named Eden. It feels warm in Eden, her skin and the air growing accustomed to each other, developing a liking. Still, she does not know what to make of this place, but then she can see that the man does not know either and perhaps not-knowing is simply the state of things. The man does not seem to wonder about such matters, but then, she supposes, he has been here longer.

A warm hand grasps her own. The man pulls her with him as he walks toward a copse of trees, and a patch of grass. He is impatient, she realizes. He has seen the other animals rutting and wants to try it too. Before she can react, and she hardly knows how she would react anyway, he takes her as his own, and it is painful, a split of the body and spirit and she is mildly surprised to find herself still holding all together. But she looks around at the other animals and sees too that this is the order of things here in the garden. When it is done, and the man has rested, he shows her how to forage for food—how to reach up to the trees and bring down the fruit. He tells her what he was told, that the one tree in the middle of the garden—the largest one, a little separate from the rest, she really could hardly miss it—is off limits. A tree of the knowledge of good and evil, whatever such things could mean.

Day turns into night, though it hardly matters when the air feels ever-balmy with a nice, comforting breeze, storms not yet having been invented. It is light most of the time, and when it is not, it is dark. There is little need to wander, food being so readily available and shelter so easily found. The man is not much for talking, and there is little to talk about anyway. That first night, she looks at the man and finds him a bit…boring, the whisper supplies. When day approaches, it is a relief to have the light again for walking, and after being perfunctorily taken by the man again, she wanders away, hardly seeing because she knows not what to think of what she sees.

At one point during her aimless journey, a voice stops her, a voice similar to the one she has grown accustomed to hearing, though this time it seems to emanate from without. Searching for the voice’s owner, she spots it nestled in a large tree in the center of a clearing. It is long, and slender—a snake, the creature tells her. The voice, louder now, carries the weight of the earth and the rhythm of the water. It contains within it a chorus, and she thinks she could listen to this voice for all time. It does not astonish her that a snake should talk to her when none of the other animals could; indeed, it hardly shakes her apathy.

How is this life? the snake wants to know. What does it feel like to breathe, and walk and live in Eden? She scarcely knows how to answer, thoughts coming slowly and sluggishly in her mind. The snake describes this Eden as paradise, as a gift, and her head hurts from trying to understand of what the snake spoke. As the sun sets and the day draws to a close, the always full moon rising in the East, the snake grows wearied of trying to communicate with her. Take a bite of this fruit, the snake says, I want to know what you see. The fruit is right there before her, within reach. She faintly remembers being warned away from a certain tree…At her hesitation, the snake continues, it is lonely in this garden, and I would very much like a companion. She knows not what the snake meant, but she hears a tinge in the snake’s voice that makes her chest heavy and her eyes prick with tiny dewdrops. Under the light of the full moon looming close in the sky, she takes a single, delicate bite of fruit.


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