I hear tell that in the days of old, long before men like Gideon considered the merits of wool, we lived in fields of grass. Tall and thick were the stalks, soft and supple beneath the winds caress, and vaster than the seas that hugged the continent. Man, woman, and child all slept beneath the stars. We feared not wind, not hail; neither snow nor sleet. For God was watching and where His people slept not an angry element fell.
We babbled speechlessly with bright eyes, throwing song and sound to the heavens (as babes still do, before their souls remember to be Silent). Music was wordless- for who had use for language? - but rich in tone and texture and would flit like silver winged birds over the fields.
We plaited the soft, steady grasses into skirts and garlands. Adorned with these we'd dance and raise our voices to greet every phase of the moon. That was the good Lord leaving a light on, you see, giving us permission to make merry the whole night through.
We had no use for learning or even thinking much. All we need do was gather the fruits of the earth and wait for God to lead us.
There was a string (filmy and fine, and such a faded blue it was near transparent. Wisp of a thing) sprouting from the crown of each and every persons head. These reached up up up into the clouds, while down at their bottom, somewhere near the belly, lay the soul. It curled and yawned and rolled within us, waiting for the tell-tale tug of fate.
These were our intellect. These were the source of song and dance, and these were our links to God. Every string and thread that loped upward was tangled and tied round the Lords fingers. This was Eden as my grandma told it to me, and I believe it better than I believe the books old Gideon's men leave in drawers.
There's more on the strings she told me, but that's not important just yet. It's the end of Eden that's the thing to tell, that's the only part the books have any kind of right.
Now everybody knows how the story ends. Man sins and Eden falls. But there's no friendly garden gate, no ominous burning sword to remind us of our folly. There's no memory of it all. Only the punishment; the Silence and the Snip is what grandma called it.
She said even she didn't know what caused it, perhaps someone started to get too wise, perhaps someone learned letters from the snake that curled about our ankles on the moonless nights and with them, doubt. Only the most learned, the most intelligent of us doubt and question, she always told me. That in itself isn't sin. It's when we forget to be simple in our hearts and souls and accept something taught before something natural that we find trouble. But that isn't the point of it, for now.
She said we severed our ties to God- snipped the strings and the cry that rose from our bellies split the world asunder. The continent divided, the seas rushed in. We as a people were separated, our souls struck silent and dumb with pain.
I hear tell man slept for a thousand years, after the Silence and the Split. We curled into the earth and wept and wept till there was nothing left of us but weariness and fear. And the snake glided over the waters and through the new grown grasses, scaled the trunks of the trees. He sowed jealousy and pain and discontent in shimmering gauzy traps we'd all trip when we woke, unleashing modern suffering upon the world.
We were different, when we did wake. Grandma didn't know what color we were before we slept, or what our hair and eyes were shaded as. But after the long sleep some of us woke pale and fair haired, some dark as the earth that welcomed them with hair to match. And while we had been roused our souls had not. They still lay sleeping and silent within us, crying out soundlessly in their dreams for something we could no longer recall. She said we stumbled over the new curves of the world, growing ill and old and dying until the snake came.
I asked her why God didn't send an angel to aid us and she said someday I'd understand.
But it was the snake that came to us first, not the Lord. And the snake taught us all letters, the snake taught us the language we'd never needed before we'd been Split. He taught us the secrets of smoke and fire, cooking and thatching roofs over our frail bodies. He taught us how to keep sheep, how to spin yarn.
Grandma said the snake felt pity, said he felt guilt for whatever hand he'd had to play in our fall and the tricks he'd played after. I don't believe that, though. I think old scratch (for who else is the snake in the garden) had some other motive.
But that could be that suspicious trap I tripped when I was so young; the great human failing that plagues me most.
The story goes on to say that man tried to commune with their souls again, the snake teaching them how to craft instruments to try and coax our slumbering hearts to sing in their sleep. And for some it works. For some, they feel that tug. They feel that fullness in the chest and for at least a minute or two, they feel connected again.
But then our souls remember to be Silent and it's lost.
The point of this all is if you look careful enough, you can still see them. Curls of blue thread breezing sadly above our heads, sometimes stretching up to a heaven they can no longer reach. Lately I've felt a tug in mine, a pull westward I can't quite define. Grandma's been dead and gone some years no, so I haven't her to ask for help; just the stories she sung in my childhood. And yes, they were all sung. In a voice so low and beautiful it caused the heart to weep. Or perhaps just the soul to cry for something forgotten.