They lived together in a dark, damp house. A house of wood for the release of hot stink when it was humid. Few windows. The dying light bulbs let every room keep its shadows. This old farmhouse was their home now. Always humid. Suffocating air in the summer. Always wet. He would come in at night from the field and she would welcome him to a moist mattress. Except, of course, in the winter, when it was not the sweat that woke them in the night, it was the cold, a foreign feel from heaps of ignorance that blew beyond their land. They had an unsafe space heater for the bedroom, always on her side of the bed. He doesn’t mind-he says.
It had been four years since they were kicked out of Eden. Of course, he never said kicked out. He tried to avoid talking harsh about it. He tried to avoid cursing. He tried to avoid honesty. He always had to be careful.
He was in the barn late one night and cut his arm on a rusted nail. Swearing, he entered the dark house and into the bathroom. He was washing his arm in the sink when she woke. Lying on the bed, she watched him bent over the sink. The yellow light on his reddened arm, he was out of breath.
“Is this a dream?” She thought perhaps. “No. He is hurt.” He cleaned the blood off and bandaged his arm. She watched him curse and did not speak. He entered the bedroom and sat upon the bed, his back to her. They were both looking toward the red bathroom floor.
“I can’t take it, Eve.”
“The work, the sweat, the stink. The dirt. It does not end. That’s what I’ve learned. This never ends.” She stared at the back of his head, his short black hair. Without time, they sat staring and soaked up the silence. Finally he did not think it, and spoke “Why’d you do it, Eve? It was the only thing he asked us.” His gaze was transfixed on the floor. He took three breaths. “Why would you offer it to me?” He questioned once more. Soon the silence broke his brick of thoughts. He turned to see his wife. Her back was to him, exposing her naked curved spine. Naked. She cried into herself and spoke not to him.
Since that night he was easy to his bride. A point was made not to upset. It will be okay is what he told her. We will persevere. Make it through this. He assured. But to what? He never asked. To gain what, what understanding? If to persevere meant to repent-then no. And never. God made that clear.
Yes, there was a God, who visited the young couple. He would come, only on Sundays and always dressed in black. His finely polished shoes repelled the dirt that Adam farmed. Always in his cassock when He arrived, quiet, but expected. No need for God to knock on their door. Adam would open it once He stepped on their porch. They eased Him into their home, hiding the stress and the work and the grief behind their hospitable eyes.
Eve would serve the men a dinner she had been preparing the whole day (God smiled upon her unseen use of time on the Sabbath.) God ate and complimented her cooking. During dinner, the couple would update Him on how they were getting on.
He would nod when listening to their troubles. As if to say,” That is expected.” They would look at him with sorrowful eyes and he would look back not with compassion or sympathy, but understanding of their misery.
After dinner, Eve would leave the men alone and attend to kitchen chores. Adam and God would talk in the other room, sometimes for over an hour. Adam would inform Him of problems, on the farm, with Eve, of the house. God would think for a moment and offer some simple advice, which Adam would always follow.
Adam had more of an understanding with God. A relationship not close, but full, with little more that could come from it. However Eve tried to keep her distance. She felt shame and regret whenever God was in her presence. Regretful of the past, ashamed of the present, she wished not to be near him for too long.
After talking with Adam, God would leave after dark. Hugged and kissed them both and said goodnight. Left them to another week of work, alone.
One night God came to dinner with a bottle of wine
“I have two gifts for you tonight,” He said as He handed them the bottle. “This is the first.”
After dinner Eve sat by the table alone. She fancied the fine liquor and observed its dark form. Casually weighed it in her hand, put it up to the light while the men were in the other room talking of undisclosed issues. No power she had. Not yet. Adam stepped into the kitchen with a look of surprise and confusion, without recognition of the situation he was in.
“He wants to see you,” spoke Adam.
“He wants to have a word with you. Alone.”
Eve sat down her glass. Scanned her mind for any reason God would want to talk to her. Stood up. Mentally created a presentable image of herself and left Adam in the kitchen.
God sat in the living room, staring at the electric heater opposite him when Eve tip toed in.
“Ah,” he showed his awareness of her, “Eve. Please, have a seat.” She obliged in the adjacent chair. Parallel, they absorbed the space heater’s warmth.
Minutes earlier Adam had filled the same spot. When Eve still sat in the kitchen staring at her wine, Adam was the one waiting for Him to speak. Except he was more accustomed God, as the anxiousness had died over the years. God had held His drink up, observing the heater’s glow on the glass.
“How do you like the wine, Adam?” God had asked.
“It’s great. Thank you. That was a very nice gift,” responded Adam.
God flashed an intoxicated smile, put down His glass and sighed to initiate the real conversation He wished to be having. “How is Eve?”
“She,” began Adam until he remembered he was not talking to Eve but to God. When talking with God, one must be honest. To deceive is to show disrespect and is entirely futile. “She is not well.”
“She is always horribly sad. She feels awful about what she did,” Adam quickly glanced up, “of course,” and then looked back down. “There are some days she does not get out of bed at all. I don’t know what I- don’t know if there is anything that will help her.”
God nodded, then turned to Adam. “Do you fuck?”
Adam was taken aback. “What?”
“Do you. Fuck?”
Adam raised his eyebrows. And retreated to his chair a little. “Well uh, yes. We do make love.”
Adam sat a moment. He never questioned why he and Eve had sex. It was just natural. They did love each other, this he knew. To be with her, their bodies together, was one of the few pleasures they shared. It was horrid to be naked, but naked together was okay. He answered unsure if it was the right thing to say, “Because it feels good. Because we’re together and sex is something we both enjoy.”
“And you still wonder of your wife’s misery?” God’s voice was now stern.
“You do not understand, Adam.”
“ I do not?”
“No. You and Eve are fucking. And wrong. It is not the pleasure you think you give her that will make her happy.” God was then staring. “You two are not enough. You, Adam, although a man, will not suffice. Until you are making love to conceive a child. Until you are fucking for me, she will never be fulfilled.”
Adam did not know what to say.
“Bring Eve in,” commanded God. “I would like to speak with her now.”
And so Adam sent his wife in, and now she sat with God. He looked her in the eyes and gently took her hand. His tone was now caring, no longer coarse. “Eve, I have your second gift now.”
“Oh, well, the wine was plenty enough-”
“Eve,” God cut her off. “You know that Adam loves you very much, yes?”
“Yes,” agreed Eve, seeing that the meaning of the conversation was still unknown.
“And you know that he so wants you to be happy again, yes? continued God.
“And you, just want to forget about Eden?”
“Yes,” she sniveled.
“Well, Eve. My gift for you. Tonight, be with your husband. Together you two will conceive a child. You will raise it, Eve, in this world of dirt. And you will never tell it of paradise. You will not need to, for this house, you and Adam, it will be his home. He will never know of Eden because you will not ever tell him. A child of the dirt. The first born. And you will be happy, because he will be too.”
Eve’s eyes broke open with tears. She clung to God, wrapped herself around his arms, crying. “Thank you.” Her tears would have soaked the fabric.
God whispered, “Go to him.” Eve squeezed him tight, then ran to Adam and hugged him. Laughing and crying, she kissed him. Adam looked up at God, ignoring the affection. God smiled and walked out the door. Adam looked down at Eve in his arms. Her face ran with tears. She smiled.
“A gift from God,” she repeated.
And he embraced his wife.