The world is empty and I fear it. It is vast beyond my ability to grasp. As I trudge eastward I feel as if where once I held the whole world between my fingertips I now hold nothing but broken dreams. I all but cling to Eve, the only other person in existence, she walks just a few feet ahead, her long dark hair shimmering in the brilliant moonlight.
I can still hear the crackling of the mighty sword Yahweh placed before the entry to Eden. Eden, the beautiful paradise from which we'd been shunned for eternity. Now we walk barefoot over a land of waving grasses, nary a tree in sight. Every once in awhile a thorn befouls my step, a bitter reminder of the horror we've brought to the world.
The sword and the thorns, though, are not nearly as terrifying as Yahweh's cherubim, I must confess. Massive, holy beings too dense and lovely and full of light to look upon without feeling the weight of what an awful, small and dirty thing I am.
What we walk towards, I cannot say. I only know that we must walk out of the presence of the angels' far reaching sight. I could feel their anger at our fall radiate almost as strongly as the burning sword's flame.
After a moment I noticed Eve's footsteps had stopped and I looked up from my contemplation to see her standing before me with tears glistening in her eyes. I was still struck by her beauty whenever I looked at her. Though all the wonders of the world struck me, there was something about her that seemed lovely in a special, different way. Imperiously above everything, and yet below all with me in the dust. That Yahweh had paired me with a creature so filled with the mystery of Him only made my shame fresh.
We embraced there, in that field, the sound of chirping crickets our only company in the emptiness. "I feel dead inside," Eve whispered. I nodded, unable to speak. I too, felt a deep pain at having lost all bonds with God. Where once he had dwelt in our hearts, there was now nothing but an ache as vast as the whole earth. "Do you think He'll come back?" she asked, her voice still hushed.
"I don't know," I whispered, remembering what He'd said. Remembered what had been said just hours earlier, when the glorious maker of all things had walked the earth still.
It tears at my bones. I have betrayed Yahweh and broken the one commandment. Eve and I hide, trembling and terrified, within a clump of trees. The fruit tasted wonderful, sweetly honeyed in a way unlike all the other fruits of Eden. But it had been filled with a bitter poison equally unlike anything I'd ever known in my short life. As the juices of the fruit had slid down my throat and dribbled down my chin, evil consumed me. And now we hid, trembling and terrified. I could hear His mighty footsteps, and then His voice. "Where are you?" he called. I knew he was speaking to me. His holy voice sent a shock of anguish through my body and as I realized all that I had forsaken my fallen heart broke.
Before I even knew what I was doing, I responded. "I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself."
The skins that had been made to cover our nakedness shuffled uncomfortably as I pulled from Eve's grasp and glanced at the sky, wondering if it was to some other world veiled behind the stars that our God had withdrawn to.
"Why?" Eve asked, and that one question could be applied to everything. Why make a world for people like us? Why create that tree, or that deleterious serpent? And why not just destroy us?
"Why did we die when we ate of the tree?" she continued. "If God can know good and evil, then why not we?"
I had only one answer. "Because we're not God."
She shook her head. We were both tired. It had been a long, terrible day. The grass here would not be perfectly comfortable, but it was certainly better than going on, with our heads full with the buzz of fear and pain.
When I slept that night, I dreamt of a more joyous age just a day gone.
I dreamed of the day I met my wife. I awoke feeling strangely light. Yahweh had bid me sleep not too long after I'd named the creatures of the world, and I, in trust complete, had obliged. I'd sat up, the beauty of a crystal clear azure sky and striking emerald trees utterly surpassed by the Maker standing above. And then I'd felt a jolt of electricity run through me as I'd seen her.
That Yahweh had paired me with a creature so filled with the mystery of Him only made my awe and wonder fresh. The loss of a rib I considered meaningless compared to the fact that I was to be joined with one so beautiful.
When I'd understood what it was Yahweh had done, I said in the poetic vein of the moment, "this at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man."
The sun rose that morning over a changed world. Though it was less than a week old, there seemed to be a sense of age that had arisen overnight, as if the earth were growing older beneath our feet. Or perhaps, rather than age, it was a sense of death, of endings distant but there just the same.
We continued walking again. What else was there to do but continue east as we'd been directed? I had a feeling, an impression in my head, that my lot would be to till soil, laboring in the dirt I was born of, but how and where I could not say.
Both of us stayed silent, lost in our thoughts. There was so much about the world I didn't understand. Was the whole of it endless plains? Were all the great beasts that had been present at the Naming going to be as friendly when next we encountered them? And death. The end. I had learned of it when I bit into the forbidden fruit. It was of all things corporeal the most mystifying. I could feel in my heart that we were somehow already dead, that life had ceased in our minds even as our lungs continued to draw breath and our muscles carry us along. But I knew there was physical death now, too. Our bodies could become as lifeless as stone. It worried me, because I didn't know what was to become of us. Was there hope for we lost children? Were we to be left to become as stone, returning to the dust?
My stomach began growling after only a few minutes of walking, another painful reminder. In Eden, there had been every fruit imaginable, drooping bountifully from every tree. Now there was desolation and fatigue. Suddenly Eve let out a loud laugh, the first I'd heard from her since the Fall, and took off running. When I looked up from my feet in confusion, she stopped and pointed, grinning back at me. "Look ahead, Adam!" A stream! And trees!"
In spite of my wearied mind, I let myself get caught up in her infectious joy and took off after her, both of us racing to be the first to the river. When we finally reached it, however, we were in for a horrible shock. The trees were withering.
The only fruit at hand was brown with rot.
"Oh my…" Eve whispered, and began to cry.
I took my wife in my arms and we stayed on the bank of the thin stream for a long time. The water was perfect and refreshing. I could see no reason for the trees to have died, but I was beginning to understand further the nature of decay.
It was going to spread.
After a few hours of rest, I decided we needed to move on. I could see a large formation of rocks in the distance, and felt suddenly that that was where we should head. The five stunted trees that grew here had nothing to offer.
By sunset the rocks were towering above, reminding me of Yahweh's angels, above us, looking down. I wanted to climb that night, reach the top and see if there was anything but rolling prairie, but I could sense that this would be the worst thing for both of us. We both felt exhausted and a climb in the dark seemed unwise.
It was there at the base of the outcropping that we learned another new way of the world, and how we might provide ourselves with food. As the darkness began to grow and we attempted to make ourselves as comfortable as possible on the ground, a tiny flock of scraggly sheep came bleating from around the other side of the rocks. Eve paid close attention to them, laughing at their antics as one young lamb tripped over its own feet.
I feigned interest for a moment and then looked away, thinking about what tomorrow might bring with its next sunrise. But after just a few seconds Eve drew me back with a loud, fearful gasp. I glanced back to the flock to see a streak of red darting across the white, as if a bit of sunset had fallen to the ground. As I watched, however, I recognized the creature I'd named fox.
At first I couldn't imagine what the fox was doing, darting in and out of the legs of the sheep, and then realization came, a cold fist of dread striking me. This creature of God was hungry and on the hunt.
Eve started to sob and this time I felt tears wrenching from my own eyes.
What have we done?
I could only stare, paralyzed, as one sheep, slower than the rest was struck down by the smaller creature. They wrestled for a moment, the fox snarling and biting, both animals rolling in the dirt, and then with a sudden, heart-rending crack the sheep's neck broke, its body a bloody mess.
What have we done to this paradise?
The both of us looked away as the predator set to devouring its dinner. Holding hands, the two of us followed the flock to the far side of the jagged formation, no longer feeling safe where we were. It was in this way that I saw how we might climb tomorrow. There were really just three giant rocks. Two slanting to the west, and one in between them that pointed east. And on the southeastern stone there was a slope that would make climbing easy. I felt that it was at the crux of these three rocks that I must go, at first light tomorrow.
Thoughts of the fox filled my head. Leaving my wife where I thought her safe, both from harm and from seeing the further bloodshed that was to come, I turned back the way we'd come.
"Where are you going?" Eve called, an edge of panic filling her voice at the idea of being left alone in the infinite emptiness of our world's night.
"We need food." I said simply, not looking back.