I am happy here.
There are trees, some tall and some small, some with fruit and some with flowers. There are flowers in so many bright and beautiful colors and...the sun, it feels so good on my face. I like to lay in the soft grass and feel the sun on my skin, warm and tingly. I watch the birds fly across the sky, and land in the trees. They talk to eachother in different sounds--loud, sharp, and quiet. I watch the squirrels and the rabbits and the foxes and the fish in the water, but most of the time, I watch the horses. They run so fast and they look so beautiful. They make me feel...something. I don't know the word, but it is some feeling that makes me want to hold my arms out and run with them down the hills, with the wind in my hair.
I watch all these animals and I think...and I wonder.
What kind of creature am I?
I cannot fly--I don't have wings and feathers like birds.
I cannot run fast--I don't have four legs like horses or wolves or wild cats.
I have this...skin, so soft and pale and bare. And hair on my head. There is only one other creature like me, and he looks different. Adam is taller and bigger and shaped different, but we are the same, somehow. I like him, he is good to me, but I wonder...
I watch the birds vanish into their nests. I see the horses running together in groups, the rabbits into their burrows. They have others. They have...more.
Where are the more of us? Of creatures like me and Adam? I want...to find them.
I go to find Adam, when the sun is lower in the sky, and there are shadows on the ground. I tell him what I am thinking. I ask, "Adam, where are the creatures like us? Why do we not have...more?"
Adam looks at me with his wide brown eyes. "I don't know. But I have you." He smiles.
He is right. I smile. We have eachother. We do not need...more.
But the days pass. And I am still watching. And the animals...are doing. The birds are building nests. They are laying eggs. The wolves are playing, and there are little ones. The bigger ones pick up the little ones and lick them. They are...taking care of them.
I start to feel something new. Something deep inside me, starting in the middle and growing up into my chest. It is warm. It is so...powerful. I stand up and walk to the little wolves, and I kneel down and touch one. They are so small, and they leap on me and lick me and nuzzle me with their warm fur. I pick one up, hold it tight to my chest, and close my eyes. Suddenly, I feel...complete.
It becomes all I can think about. I run to the trees, climb into their branches, and look into the nests. Inside their are little squirming things, with beaks and scraggly feathers. I realize they are little birds. I jump down and run into the woods. I look into the burrows, hold out a hand and wait until a little furry nose pops out. It bounces out to meet me. It is a little rabbit, and there are more. They are so wonderful.
I go out to the fields, and the horses are grouped together. I see a small horse I have never seen before. He has thin wobbly legs, and he runs straight under the bigger horse and puts his mouth under her back legs. He appears to be...drinking.
It is such a strange thing, yet I can't stop watching. I realize that this young horse needs this older horse, this...protector. Nurturer. It is a bond that seems so personal, so close. Even closer than Adam and I. I want to be needed like that.
I go to Adam, and he is sitting by the river. He watches it pass, looking pleased with everything around him. My face feels tight, and I imagine that I don't look as peaceful as he does. I am not feeling...happy anymore.
"Adam." I say.
He turns. I go to sit by him on a rock.
"Yes?" He asks.
"Why don't we have little ones?" I ask.
Now his face looks tight and twisted. "What do you mean?"
"All the animals have little ones to take care of. Why don't we?"
Adam looks around as if he hasn't thought of this before, which, knowing Adam, he probably hasn't. Then he looks at me. "Well, God would tell us if we had little ones, and he hasn't. So I don't think we do."
Now I feel a hard cold feeling in my chest, and it makes my eyes swell up. "You mean...we never will?"
"I don't know." Is all he says.
"But all the creatures do. It is what they do. They have...groups. And they help the little ones grow. And they take care of eachother. Surely we must do that too?" I beg.
But Adam just shakes his head. "We take care of eachother. And we take care of the garden, and we take care of the animals. That is what we do."
Adam is right. He is always right. And so, when the sun goes down, and the garden is dark, I cry until I fall asleep.
It is only when I wake up to the sunlight breaking over the quiet meadow, that I feel that feeling again. That sense of meaning, of belonging, tugging me to my feet. I know I must take care of Adam, and the garden, and the animals. But they are all at peace. They are all happy. They don't need me.
And I can feel deep inside me, in my head, and in my chest, that there are others that do. Others like me. This time, I know I am right, and I won't stop until I find them.
I leave early, before the sun reaches over the hills, leaving Adam sleeping by the river. I venture farther than I've ever dared to go--having never had the desire before. I follow the horses, because they are the ones who always travel the farthest, and it takes me to the edge of the garden. To the woods.
I step into the shade of the trees, and have the sudden sensation that I shouldn't be here. It is darker here, silent, and the trees are so thick I can't see the world around me. It is so different than the open, sunlit garden. With each step, I am both frightened and amazed, lured inside the depths of the woods by the question that haunts me: who are we? Where do we belong? What is my--
"Purpossssssssee," A voice says from behind me, the word drawing out in one long hiss. I jump away, afraid, only to see a long snake winding its way over the twigs and leaves. I have never been afraid of any animal--I've never had reason to be--but this one is different. It lifts its head and looks at me, and there is something almost human in its gaze. It...knows me, and only then do I realize that it is the one that spoke.
"You're looking for purpose, are you not, Eve?" The snake asks, voice rasping like the leaves.
"What...what are you? Who are you? How can you talk?" I ask, backing into the ferns.
The snake curls its long body into a coil, then lifts its head to address me. "I am not a snake, I only take this form on earth. I am someone you once knew, before you came here." He pauses when he catches me staring. "Not that you would remember. That is a story for another time. Why have you come here, into the woods? So far from the garden, so far from Adam? What are you looking for?"
I have never been so scared and amazed by something like this before, and I don't know if what this snake is saying is true, but I do know one thing: he may be able to help. "I am looking for little ones like me and Adam, little human creatures that I can take care of."
The snake laughs. "Oh, my...you are talking about children."
"Children." I test the word in my mouth, and it feels right.
"You want to be a mother." The snake continues.
"A mother." I repeat, and no word has ever sounded so beautiful.
"Well, it isn't possible to have children here, not as you are." The snake hisses.
I look at him with a sinking feeling. "What do you mean? Do they not exist?"
The snake shakes his head. "You are confused, young girl. You do not know of children or mothers, life or death, right or wrong. But it is not your fault--God has blinded you. There is only one route to your purpose, one thing you must do."
"What must I do? I will do anything!" I nearly shout, uncertain of what the snake is saying but eager nonetheless.
"You must eat some of the fruit of the tree of good and evil."
I shrink back at his words. They are menacing--that much I know. God has told Adam and I to never eat from that tree, or else we will die. And I know nothing of death, only that it is not good.
"That...that I cannot do. God has forbidden it." I answer in a trembling voice. "Surely there's another way?"
"There is no other way." The snake says forcefully, and begins to slither forward into the trees.
I know I shouldn't follow, and yet I do, because....
I follow the snake to a small clearing, a clearing I remember seeing only once before when God warned us in a vision. At its center sits a tree, a tree that looks most warped and cruel above all others. Its bark is black, branches gnarled and leaves blood red. There are a few round brown fruits hanging from its branches, and they look repulsive to the taste. I draw back a step in fear. I shouldn't be here.
"Where are you going Eve?" The snake hisses as it nears the roots of the tree. "Afraid of what you do not know?" He chides.
I remain frozen where I stand. "I know I shouldn't be here. I was told to never come here."
"You only know what God has told you." The snake says, his voice hateful. "But how would it be, Eve, to know everything? To know what God knows, to have the answers?" He circles closer to me, his voice whispering in my ear, and it feels...good. A different good that sends chills up my spine. "To be a mother."
That word catches me, and I step forward. "I can be a mother? I can have little ones?"
The snake nods. "Yes, if you eat of the fruit."
I feel myself shaking. Shaking with the knowledge I have just attained, as well as the warnings I know to be true. I believe God. He is our father. He loves me. I hold to these things with my life, and yet...
I know the snake is right. I can feel it inside me, but I don't know why.
I look at the snake. "But why? God--,"
"Has left you in ignorance." The snake's head hovers near my face, and I see a glint in his eye that looks familiar. "There are so many things you need to do, so many things you can become, like the creatures around you, with their many purposes. You, Eve, have a much grander purpose. You can be the mother of all...and it begins with eating that fruit."
"Mother of all...," I repeat in awe, my head swimming with all his glorious promises. I imagine sitting in the sunny meadow, surrounded by all my little ones. I see their smiling faces, hear their little voices, and tears reach my eyes. I want it more than anything.
"But how can that be?" I ask, tears streaming down my face. "When God commands it not to be done?"
The snake peers at her through lidded eyes. "You have a feeling that it is right, don't you, Eve? You can feel your purpose calling you. It is what you need to be happy. And God wants you to be happy, doesn't he?"
I nod, convinced by his words. He is right. God loves me. He told me he wants us to be happy. And yet...I can't be. I can't until I am complete.
I walk over to inspect the fruit. I cup it with my hand, unwilling to pluck it from its stem. "You promise me I won't die?" I ask.
The snake smiles. "I promise you will live."
I pull the fruit from its stem. It breaks free. I stare in shock at what I have done, at what I am about to do.
I think of Adam, I think of the garden, and I think of holding the baby animals in my arms.
I am happy here. But it is not enough to be happy.
I think of God. I remember what he calls us. His children.
My mind reels with some memory I can't find, so close yet so far that I can't retrieve it. It is more than just a feeling inside me. It is what the snake said--a purpose. I am burdened by it.
The little voices are calling to me--several of them, then hundreds of them, then thousands of them. Their little hands reach out to me. They call to me. Mother.
I know what I must do.
I take a bite of the fruit, feel its flesh in my mouth. The juice runs from my lips.
I close my eyes as a thunderous wave of thoughts and emotions assaults me.
I see my children--see their faces looking up at me that mimic my own. I see groups of us, people, building their nests--no, their homes. Their towns. Their cities. I see them fill the earth. I see them fight. I see them kill. I see them love, care for, and protect eachother. I see mothers, and fathers, all over the earth. I see good, I see evil.
I see a baby, I see a star. I see men walking through fields with sheep, see lights in the sky. I hear voices singing. I see a boy growing, learning, teaching. I see him leading men from their boats, see him heal people with his touch. I see him die, hanging on a cross. I see him live. I see his followers killed. I see wickedness reign. I watch years pass. I see people reading a book, calling it holy. I see people falling to their knees, pleading with God. The God I know and love.
I see these people, and I love them. I mourn with them. It is then that I realize what we are, what creature I am. We are children of God, and there was always meant to be more of us.
Do you remember, Eve? Says a voice so still and so gentle it is barely a whisper in my head, but burns like a flame in my heart.
Yes, I answer. And though my world is fallen, I stand naked in the dark woods, finally at peace.