IV. Lost

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New eyes.

We are filled with what we have never known. A heaviness descends. Hearts quicken. I look to the beasts and see their thick covering of fur. I look at myself and see that I am bare. Heat washes through me. I look to Husband. He averts his gaze.

Shame.

It burns behind my eyes and even as juices linger on my tongue, water escapes down my cheeks—an ugly brine. Breath becomes labored, vision blurry.

And Serpent laughs.

I gather leaves against myself and hide in shadow as I struggle to weave them into coverings for our indignity. We find an unsteady calm behind the frond of fig.

And Serpent laughs.

Footsteps. The rustle of grasses. Evening has come. He has come.

We hide among the roots, bathed in green shadow, fear beating us from inside.

"Where are you?" Voice both gentle and heavy.

Husband backs against the trunk, eyes closed and fists clenched, breath shaking from rigid lips. "We have hidden. We are afraid. We heard your steps. We are naked and ashamed."

And then He is before us, eyes deep wells of regret, pain etched into every coil of colour that rests there. He kneels before us, hand upon Husband's knee. "Who told you that you were naked?" Voice at once like a raging ocean and a falling petal. "Did you eat from that which I commanded you not to?"

Husband pushes out from under His gaze. Standing. Pointing a trembling finger at me. "It was she!"

And I feel the rending of my heart and I break beneath his betrayal and fall forward on my face, all surroundings eclipsed by my sorrow. Great sobs shake me and I wet the ground with my tears.

His whisper reflects my own pain. "What is this you have done?" His hand on my quaking shoulder is warm and heavy.

I cannot meet His eyes. "Serpent deceived me."

He rises. A rushing wind. "Cursed are you above all beasts! Because you have done this thing you will forever crawl on your belly in the dust. Woman will hate you and Man will strike your head just as you strike his heel!"

He kneels before me once again, a strong hand on each shoulder. "Your grief I will increase, as will I the pains of your childbirth. Your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you." And He lingers a moment, touching my head like it will be the last time and when He kisses my crown and I feel the drop of His tear on my hair it breaks open a new floodgate and I sob into the soil.

And with softness and strength beyond measure He looks to Husband. "For the rest of your life you will survive by the sweat of your brow. With painful toil will you work the hard land to feed your family. Until the day you return to the dust. For with dust I have made you, so to dust you will return."

A deer approaches to His calling, faithful and trusting to His murmurings, bowing before Him in submission as He lifts a sharp stone from the river bed and runs it across its throat. Red spills onto green. The scent of it repulses. The turn of my stomach brings sweat to my skin and yet I cannot look away as He trims skin from flesh, hands stained wet and crimson. "He gives life for you that you may live without your shame. He dies physically but today, you die spiritually for where sin is I cannot be also."

I have no words. No argument. Nothing to speak past this pain that coils itself within my chest like sickness.

From skins he sews us clothing and then leads us to the ends of the garden which we did not know existed. "Because you have eaten and now know good and evil you cannot be allowed to eat also from The Tree of  Life and live forever. Today you separate yourself from Me." Oceans of tears in His eyes.

We step beyond the boundaries.

He is gone.

Beneath our feet the ground is hard and thistles cut into our flesh and I know this red is my life so I staunch the flow with a leaf and vine.

We are fallen. We are broken. We are separated. We are lost.

Husband looks to me and I feel his anger like a physical assault. I know no words for apology, I know no balm for betrayal.

"Eve," he names me as we settle, worn and weary and defeated beneath a dying tree. "For you will be the mother of all the living."

And Serpent laughs.




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