The sky is angry that night, water pouring from unseen heights, cut through with spears of light and a thunderous drumming that shakes her to the core.
From that moment on, she becomes adept at concealing herself, at stealing away through the trees upon the man’s approach. The snake helps with this, keeping vigil at night while she rests, the full moon looking on. The garden, a dark and treacherous place where each rustle of leaves or snap of a branch seem to portend her discovery and the new pain it would bring, feels foreign, unkind, and she is reminded of the visions she had seen upon eating the forbidden fruit. Time, however, the great healer that it is, works its magic in her tender heart. Her physical wounds heal, the pain only the faintest of memories. The healing of her other wounds, deeper gut-wounds and heart-wounds and spirit-wounds, takes a little longer, but healing happens all the same. It is with grateful tears in her eyes and gasping breath that she recognizes once more the beauty of the moon, and the lake, and the flowers.
It is with solemn silence and slowed heartbeat that she recognizes once more the beauty of her uncovered body, reflected in the still waters of the lake. She dances that night, before the guardian moon, slowly and with reverence.
She notices the change within her immediately. The sudden presence, the sharp inhale of a breath and expectant pause, signifying she is not alone in her body. Growing rounder each day and each night, she wonders at the life within her. Had it been like this for the man, when she had been taken from his body? Each new moment seems painfully tender, wondrous, fragile as her body takes on new and beautiful form. She grows as round as the moon, which casts its gentle glow on her as she prepares herself for—what, she does not know. She has seen the welcoming of other animals, but cannot reconcile the bloody mess with the feeling of truth deep inside her.
The snake helps her find a little grove, a safe spot for the delivery, bordered by cliff and trees and lake. When her time comes, it is painful, but exquisitely so, each pulse of her body reminding her of the pulse of her heartbeat, reminding her of the pulse of the earth. The snake watches, hissing a low and soothing tune. When the pulsing comes harder and faster, though, she sees from the corner of her eye the snake tense, coiled and taut, and she follows its gaze.
He is there, the man, and the look in his eyes is terrible in its fury and terrible in its wanting. She struggles to get to her feet but new life will not wait and she collapses back, gasping and heaving as her whole body rocks and one, and then two small, wriggling, crying forms spill from her womb, spilling right into the man’s open arms. She screams then, as he takes them, and they scream right back, those two tiny boys. Tears blind her eyes as she howls, but there is no answering howl, the man and her little ones moving farther and farther away from her. High keening fades into choked sobs as she lies back on the ground, staring blankly up at the distant stars and hard moon. She has never felt so empty.
As silence emerges from the creeping shadows in the trees and the crystal depths of the lake, stilling her lungs for one tragic moment, her body seizes once more, a deep and determined knocking on the doorway to life. She is not empty, not yet, and with renewed cries one final form slips out into the world onto the soft bed of grass. It yowls at this abrupt transition into a world of light and cold. With bated breath, the woman lifts the tiny miracle into her arms and holds her, wonderingly, to her chest. The baby, finding her breast immediately, clamps down tight and quiets, suckling contentedly. The woman stares.
The snake, curled close by on a branch, wonders. What will you do now? Looking down at the baby in her arms, the woman is silent. This silence remains unbroken until the slightest hint of color at the horizon signals the new day’s arrival. With ragged and worn voice, the woman makes her proclamation.
“I have eaten of the forbidden fruit, and have suffered through its consequences. I have known great evil, great pain, and great sorrow. Yet I am merely the eve of a new dawn. She will be the blazing sun and shining moon beckoning forth days and nights to come. She will know herself, and love herself, and so love all. She will be the hope-bearer to all who come after her, carrying within her the knowledge of beauty, the path of joy, the way of goodness. She will be the reminder, remembering on behalf of her children, and her children’s children, and their children still, these precious memories of another possibility. Though evil has come to the world, so too has breathtaking goodness, and it is this goodness that she will learn and know. This I vow, and this I will make happen.” The woman lies back against the soft grass, as her new child suckles quietly, and stares with renewed and determined light in her eyes at the now-waning moon. The snake, silent and reverent, resumes its guard.
Far away, the gleaming moon, that great and all-knowing eye, takes one last look at the divine trilogy down below—Mother, Daughter, and Holy Self—and begins her slow and majestic turn away from the garden, and it was very good.