“But you don’t KNOW that it would go wrong, right? Not until you try!”
Eve used to say it all the time. She said it when she wanted to go looking for lions in Eden’s plains and when she thought it would be lovely to try flying by jumping off a cliff. She said it when she brought me the fruit – you know the one – and even after, when she thought we should really try to raise crops, and encourage Cain in his agricultural experiments, and maybe even push Abel to be a bit more “Creative.”
“You mean reckless,” I said, but she shook her hair – I really loved that hair – and laughed.
“Come on, don’t be so square,” she trilled. “Where is your sense of adventure?”
“Adventure,” I spluttered, “Adventure?! Must I remind you what happened last time when you – ”
But she spoke right over me, with the same exuberance that somehow always pulled at me and made me tag along, reservations repressed – she was just so ALIVE, how could anyone NOT follow her? – “You know I’m right! This kid is too serene, he needs to be shaken up a bit-”
And maybe, I thought, tagging along on yet another adventure, she was right.
Abel wasn’t exactly sad – he seemed perfectly content with his flute and his flocks – but there was something…. Complaisant? Still? Overly-steady?
Oh, hell. I’ll just say it. There WAS something boring about him, about the way he simply existed, never changing anything, never exceeding the natural cycles of rain and grass and summer, following the sheep he supposedly led. Definitely compared to my Eve. And to Cain – Cain, who burned with the same sort of fire, the same sort of restlessness, that made me fall in love with my wife very day.
The two of them used to sit close together, back then – their heads almost touching, their voices rising and falling, their dreams and their daring so open on their faces. I saw the way Abel looked at them, at times: Loving, serene. But also perplexed.
I wasn’t perplexed, but I was somewhat wary.
Or maybe I’m just imagining this now, looking back.
I had to drag Eve off Abel’s body, on the day it all changed. She was screaming – there were no words in her anguish – and wouldn’t let him go, not until I pried her hands open and carried her far and away. She was silent, then – silent and bloodied. And she said nothing at all until one evening, days later, after I exhausted my own tears and regrets.
“I killed him,” she whispered. “I ruined him.”
“Don’t be stupid,” I said, perhaps too harshly, but I was grieving too, and I didn’t sleep since that day, and I needed her. “Cain did.”
“Not Abel, you fool,” she spat, and I never saw her so angry, so hateful. “Cain. I ruined him, with my ideas of progress and change and making things better. I taught him to try and change things. And he did.”
I wanted to argue. I knew that I should. But I could see Abel’s blood still staining her arms where she clutched him, and I knew that she would see right through me if I lied.
We lived in silence after that. She walked and toiled and carried her weight, but she wasn’t really Eve anymore. She wasn’t living. The only time I saw her feeling anything was when I told her I meant to meet with Cain, but she suppressed whatever it was, and turned away.
That first meeting was terrible. But with time, I sought him out more and more. I was lonely, you see, and he was the only person I could speak with. The only person who would look me in the eye.
“I build cities,” he told me one night, as we sat under the stars. “I don’t stay in them – I don’t deserve to – but maybe someday, someone will. And it’s nice to create something new, you know? To change something. It’s not like I can change the past.”
We sat in silence after that, because what was there to say? But after we parted ways, I lay awake and looked at the great expanse of darkness above.
God told me, once, that he created the sky with words.
And it was now my turn to create something, to change reality. It was my turn, at least, to try.
At first, my words were clumsy. I told Eve of my fears and my hopes, of how much I loved her.
I talked for hours about the days after Eden, when I couldn’t resent her – not for that restlessness that was what loved about her. What I cherished.
“Yes, I was angry after Abel died,” I told her. “But even if change can be dangerous, I always loved you for your leaps of faith.”
“After all, one of them was loving me, was it not?”
She didn’t respond, back then. But I could see that she listened. So I went on talking. I went on talking as the grass turned yellow, and as the sheep I took in after Abel, grew too furry for their own good. I talked and talked into the first rains and then the blizzards of winter, into the nights that grew longer and longer.
When she woke me up on the first day of spring, I was startled. Eve didn’t touch me, didn’t seek me out, for years.
But there she was, her hair falling over and framing her face in the pale light of dawn. Still hesitant, still gaunt, her voice hoarse from lack of use.
“Let’s have more children.”
I couldn’t speak – all my hard won verbosity betrayed me – but my heart was full when I held her.
My heart was full, and in it, something whispered – “Let there be love. Let there be faith.”
We held each other through that morning. We held each other as we changed.