"Life After Eden"

by Amy Kostyn

She flopped facedown into the lush grass. Her sobs were nearly soundless, but of course Serpent heard her. He glided over, the tall blades parting in his wake. What is it? he asked, knowing the answer.

The woman glared at him, tears already beginning to dry on her cheeks. "Fucking Adam, what else?" Her fingers, claw-like, tore at the grass, and she closed her eyes. Serpent edged closer, daring to touch her creamy, soft skin. He treasured the moments like this, when she did not revile him. She opened her pale brown eyes, and they were sad and thoughtful. "Why do I let him?" She could feel Serpent's cool body pressing against her side, but she did not pull away.

It is wrong, Eve, said Serpent, it is not part of the Making. He knew this was a lie, but it seemed to comfort her nonetheless. Perhaps He is not part of the Making, Serpent ventured, every sense waiting for her response. He did not have long to wait; she sat bolt upright, eyes wild with terror.

"You mustn't," she whispered, as though volume made a difference, "you can't say things like that." Eve's mind drifted back to the recent events, and she sighed deeply. "How can this be right? The way He watches, it's just--"

Shhhh, soothed Serpent, gently winding a coil around her waist. He is not watching now. Rest. I will take care of you. I will protect you.

Eve stretched out in the grass, smiling sleepily at Serpent. "You can't," she said, but her voice was gentle. She slipped into the dreamtime and

He was there, unseen, but hovering, His presence a dank and heavy fog. Sometimes she thought she could smell Him, but no, that was Adam, sweating and grinning, the foul stench of his desire overpowering her without words, without blows. As his hand encircled her wrist, drawing her nearer pulling her down, her mind cried no! But always He was there, mutely approving of the spectacle below. Adam on top of her now, pushing and grunting and marking his territory as clearly as any of the animals. Adam knew there would be tears later, tears he did not understand, and therefore signifying nothing. Eve felt his pace quicken, become even more brutal, and she knew the torture was nearly over. She looked at Adam. His eyes were closed. His face was red. his sweat dripped down onto her face, and she thought blackly, I hate you. She felt Him watching, felt His amusement, and thought, I hate you. Adam thrust into her roughly, and

she cried out!

Serpent drew back swiftly, and Eve felt him slip out of her body. She shuddered in revulsion and leapt to her feet. "How could you?" she blazed.

Serpent coiled nervously and would not meet her gaze. He had known this would happen, that he was going too far, but still could not resist. I am sorry, he said simply. You were warm. I did not mean--

But she was already walking away, swiftly. "You did."

He followed her, pleading desperately, Please. Please do not hate me. I will cherish you, keep you safe--

She whirled toward him, her earlier fury a mere ember in comparison. "Safe! You want no more than he does! Why should I forgive you? You were my friend once, but now you are no better than he is."

Serpent persisted. I would not share you with Him. I would keep you safe from Him.

There was no softness this time, in eyes or voice. "You can't. You lie." Eve turned once more, and Serpent felt the finality of her decision. He knew how to change her mind. It would be a big risk, but it was worth it.

I can open your eyes, he said softly. I can show you the way out of here, away from Adam. Away from Him.

She regarded him stonily. "How? Show me."

Serpent glided deeper into the garden, past all the fruits which were luscious in appearance, but tasted as He willed. A bite could be honey-sweet or execrable by His whim. But there was one tree here He could not touch, and this frightened Him. Serpent had already eaten of the tree, and knew why He feared it. Here.

Eve stared. "It is forbidden. Why have you brought me here?"

Serpent said, If He is all-powerful, why does He fear any part of the Making? Perhaps He did not create this. Perhaps He did not create anything except the fear. I have eaten of this tree--

Eve regarded him with horror. "No!"

Serpent continued, and as you see, I am well. I am better. I know . . . things. I know about Him. As can you.

Eve said, "And how will that help me? Knowing."

He paused at that. Had it helped him? Before, he had no interest in His little playthings; he was content to eat and sleep and sun himself. Now, he could not rest as he had before. He felt Eve's pain, her anger, and rather than dismissing it, he found himself concentrating on ways to ease her suffering. Was that a better way to live? He had no answer for Eve. Fortunately, she had her own answers.

"What else can He do? I cannot bear His torture any longer. I want peace at any cost." She reached up and plucked the fruit from the tree. As she bit into it, she closed her eyes. It tasted as nothing had before; it was full of wildness and a tangy sweetness that left her craving more. As the juice trickled down her chin, Serpent regarded her cautiously. Had he done the right thing?

Eve opened her eyes. "Why, that lying sack of shit!" she cried.

Serpent twitched, startled. What--

"He isn't GOD!" she snarled, taking another bite from the fruit. "Well, not THE God," she amended. "That pompous prick! How dare He let Adam do that to me? And he even got OFF on it, the sick sonofabitch . . . " she trailed off as she paced. Serpent quickly pulled his coils out of her way. Perhaps she'd woken up a little TOO much.

He flinched again as Eve whirled back to face him. "I can't believe I've been blind for so long . . . well, no more, buster, this chick is blowing this pop stand!" She spun on her heel and strode off. Serpent was hard-pressed to keep up with her.

Wait . . . where are you going? What's happening?

She didn't pause. "Where am I going? I'm leaving this sick inbred garden, that's where I'm going!"

A man stepped out to block her path. "You are not. He has given you to me, and I say you will stay here."

Eve bared her teeth, and her fingers sank deep into the fruit she still clutched in one hand. "Bullshit, honey. You can try to stop me, but you're gonna lose some of your factory-installed equipment if you lay one stinking finger on me. I'm leaving."

Adam paused, puzzled beyond all reckoning. "This isn't how it's supposed to go."

Eve grinned. "Well, there's a new girl in town, kiddo, and she doesn't like your hairy old ass one bit. So go peddle your papers somewhere else. And if you're looking for a good time, try the mud puddle on the other side of the garden."

Adam glared at Serpent. "This is all YOUR fault!"

Serpent retreated a few feet. Hey, I'm just as baffled as you are. Nothing like this happened to me!

Eve regarded Serpent coldly. "And as for you, hell, you just wanted me for your own. You're no better than ape-man, here."

Adam growled, "Who are you calling ape-man? He's going to have something to say about THIS, believe you me . . . "

Eve frowned at Adam, an expression that was almost sadness in her eyes. "Boy, if you knew what I knew, it'd just about kill you, wouldn't it?" She tossed the half-eaten fruit to Adam. "Here. Call it a going-away present."

THAT IS FORBIDDEN. HE WHO EATS OF THE FRUIT WILL BE FOREVER BANISHED FROM THE GARDEN. AND GET THAT WOMAN IN LINE ALREADY, WILL YOU? YOU'RE MAKING ME LOOK BAD.

"Sorry, God, or whoever you are, you horny old bastard!" Eve called. "I'm checking out of this dump, and if Adam wants to get laid any time in the next century, he'd better come with me."

Serpent whined, But what about me?

"Sorry, old friend," Eve said, "you're just not my type. Adam may be a little rough, but I'm sure he'll come around after he gets tired of whacking off."

THAT'S A SIN!

"Blow it out your bullhorn, you pervert!" she snapped. "I guess you aren't omnipresent, or you'd know that Adam gets a lot more action from his left hand than he does from me."

IS THIS TRUE?

Adam blanched.

FINE, GO AHEAD, EAT THE FRUIT, SEE IF I CARE! GET OUT OF HERE, WHO NEEDS YOU? BUT DON'T YOU EVER TRY TO COME BACK. YOU'RE ON YOUR OWN!

Eve smiled. "And doesn't that just feel fine." She walked away, out of the Garden, and did not look back.

THIS IS YOUR FAULT, SERPENT! YOU WILL CRAWL ON YOUR BELLY FOREVER!

I already DO crawl on my belly!

WELL--YOU'RE GONNA STAY THAT WAY! YOU GET OUT, TOO! ADAM . . . ADAM, YOU'RE MY BOY . . . YOU'RE NOT GONNA BAIL OUT ON ME NOW, ARE YOU? AFTER ALL WE'VE BEEN THROUGH, YOU'RE--WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

Adam answered through a mouthful of fruit, "I was hungry. Will you make me a new woman?"

GET OUT! OF ALL THE STUPID--GO WALK IN THE DESERT, YOU STUPID, STUPID MAN! I WASH MY HANDS OF THE WHOLE THING. GO!

So Adam, bemused, wandered out into the desert. Maybe he could find Eve; she seemed to know what to do. He followed her footprints, head down, and did not see the huge hand that reached down from the sky, closed the gates of the Garden, and hung a sign on the door.

CLOSED FOR REPAIRS.

(c) 1996 Amy Kostyn

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