Monday, November 19, 2018

Eve's New Eden

Eve has been having nightmares of serpents—disgusting, radiant pythons slipping above her head through treetops, vipers slithering through the grass beneath her toes, and beady-eyed copperheads flicking their forked tongues at her as she walks to her waterfall. She steps into the pool and she feels a scaly body wind around her leg—Eve screams and—

she wakes up in a cold sweat.

Adam—she hits her sleeping groom to rouse him and he is instantly awake.

What’s wrong? He asks, groggy but alert.

Eve is sitting up underneath their shared sycamore tree, where they sleep each night. The humidity that hangs about the foothills of Mount Hermon is weighing heavily on her lungs—her heart beats as though it were about to explode. She is too hot to sleep. And when she closes her eyes, she sees serpents that wind around her heart and neck, choking the rhythm of her pulse.

Even though her lungs are like lead—she can barely speak—Eve cries: I feel like I’m in hell.

No human has ever heard this word before—no one has ever said it. But Adam recognizes it instantly. Words arise from shared realities, and he knows the reality that Eve is feeling. It’s something—some dread possibility—they have discovered together in this world beyond paradise. And he hates it, just as she does.

Eve notices that Adam does not seem annoyed at her neologism. She has learned that Adam has an insecurity about new language—he seems himself as an inventor rather than a pupil—and she feels small tendrils of resentment running underneath the crust between them when she improvises something new. It is hard, she grants, to feel the world you've been made a master of slip out from underneath you and rise to greet you as something you must submit to, too.

Adam turns towards her—his eyes closed, but his voice open:

You are not in hell, he says.

It is not much—just a simple statement of fact. But it opens up the cloudy night air for a little space for stars. There is no breeze just yet. But Eve lays back down in the deep shade of the sycamore.

Adam and Eve have learned a lot this night: there is a condition of the heart a doctor cannot heal—when it closes up inside itself and nothing else can enter it. What is usually a space where you can meets the world becomes a prison that keeps you from it. They call this hell.

But if someone else is there with you, even in the miserable death of a humid night, then your hell has been harrowed and you are no longer in it.

No comments:

Post a Comment