The priest was good and God was great;
life was a holy mission.
They said my friends would burn in hell,
and then I had some questions.
by Aaron Willis
Eve woke to a sunny morning in the garden. Yesterday it rained and the plants, lush and quenched, swayed in the morning breeze carrying the scent of wet soil. Adam snored and turned over, kicking as he did and clipped Eve in the belly, knocking her breath out for a second. She looked him over. A hairy-faced, hairy backed lummox. He hadn’t bathed in the pool by the waterfall for sixteen moons and his stench was deafening. Eve went to gather breakfast and to breathe fresh air.In a broad leaf, Eve collected some of the purple berries she loved and a few figs and nuts. She enjoyed them in silence on the hillock overlooking the waterfall. But her peace didn’t last long. Adam stirred. “Eve! Where are you woman?” She chewed silently, didn’t answer, wanted to pretend she hadn’t heard so she could extend the serenity for a few more seconds. “Eve!” He bellowed and stomped through the ferns.She shrank into herself as she sat, dreading. Now he would be angry. He searched and his eyes fell on her, his brow furrowed. “Why didn’t you answer? Did you forget how to listen you stupid bitch?”Eve stammered, “ Saw a humming...”He stood over her with hands on hips. “You what? I can’t hear you. Now I’ve forgotten how to listen.”Eve swallowed, “I saw a hummingbird, I didn’t want to frighten it away. It was so lovely.” Adam sat next to her, took the leaf out of her hands and funneled the berries and nuts into his gullet with one motion. “Why don’t you get some more,” Adam suggested, and with a stern look in his eyes made it clear it was not just a suggestion. Eve flinched, rubbed a bruise on her left arm and stood. He threw the leaf at her chest with a slap. “Be quick about it. Don’t get distracted by hummingbirds. If I have to find you again, you won’t like it.”Eve strode away, eager to be away from his stare and stink. She tried to remember happier times with him. He did save her from that wild animal, and in his arms she felt safe. And it was frightening to think of being alone. Eve wished a wild sabre-toothed anything would stroll through on a daily basis so his anger would be aimed at it instead of her.“You belong to me,” he told her when they first met. “You were made for me. My cloud friend told me. He made everything. He took one of my bones and made you.”Eve replied, “Where is your friend? I’ve never seen him.”Adam stood over her thrusting his chest into her. “You think you could see him? You think you’re worthy? Did you hear what I said? You’re from my bone! You’re a piece of me. Why would he appear to you? You’re less than me, a chunk of bone! You don’t get to ask questions about my cloud friend. You don’t get to question me about anything. I don’t take questions from bits of skeleton.”Eve snapped back into the present. A tree stood in front of her, its branches far above her reach, or even Adam’s reach. Among the leaves, red ripe fruit hung tantalizingly, dewdrops gathered on the underside. Neither of them had ever had it, and she wondered about its flavor, the texture. He came stomping through, found her staring up.Adam placed his hands on his hips. “Those. Yeah, I saw those a few days ago. Can’t get to ’em.”Eve pointed at one on the lowermost branch. “Could you get that one? If you jumped? I think it might be bigger today, heavier. It should be lower and...”Adam readied himself. He ran a few paces, jumped and scraped wildly at the air below the fruit, landed on his knees. He circled back, leaped again, stretched his arms out, but missed. On his third try, he started at a sprint, leapt and crashed sideways into the trunk. He cried out and tumbled into the grass, a deep gash in his forehead. Adam put his hand up to the wound, stared at the blood. Eve hid a smile behind her hand but when he looked over, changed her eyes to that of shock.“Oh no! Are you ok?”Adam sulked and furrowed his brow into a scowl. “It’s nothing. I just remembered my cloud friend said we shouldn’t eat those anyway. Said they were forbidden and bad things will happen if we get them, so that’s why I got hurt for trying.”He shuffled off to wash his wound by the waterfall pool. Seemed he always brought up his invisible friend every time he had a shortcoming. Eve plotted. She loved to make crowns by weaving the grasses on the hillock. She figured if she weaved enough of them together they could make a long rope and she would be able to pull down the branch.For the next few days Eve wove several small wreaths, and linked them together. The chain got longer and longer. Adam still sulked about his wound all week and kept to himself on the rock face, striking sparks with some flint. She only saw him when he came to the flattened nook where they slept. Most nights he would crush her underneath and thrust away as if she were nothing more than a...piece of his own skeleton. That week, he didn’t try to insert himself. He came back smelling of the fermented grapes, turned away from her, elbowed her in the ribs, then fell to snoring. Eve counted his ribs while he slept. None appeared to be missing. She doubted the cloud friend existed.When the chain was long enough, she went to the tree and threw the loop up four times and missed. On the fifth try, she caught the branch and the chain held. Eve wrapped the slack around her wrist, pulled and reeled in a little at a time. The branch got lower and lower. She felt the chain loosening and ripping in places. Before it broke altogether, Eve managed to grab two of the red fruit off the branch, and tumbled onto her back in victory.She sat on the hillock and bit into the firm juicy flesh. It was delicious and tart. She thought of eating both apples, but she decided to give the other one to Adam with a twofold agenda: to do something nice so he wouldn’t be mad, and to show she did something he couldn’t; which would make him mad. Eve wanted to be daring. She was more clever. She gathered the food. She solved problems. She kept them going. All he did was kill an animal once. He made things ugly and fearful. He was mean and forceful. What if all other food was gone and the last thing left was the apples? They’d starve. If not for Eve.She strode up as he lay back throwing from a pile of stones into the pool below the waterfall. Eve gently placed the apple in his lap. Adam absently picked it up and took a bite, threw another stone. Eve waited for a reaction slow in coming. After another bite, he finally looked at it. “Where’d you find this? Have we had this before?”Eve sat and smiled proudly. “No, we haven’t had this before. It’s from that tree.”Adam bit again and mumbled, “What tree?”Eve leaned forward, staring insistently. “That tree.”A few chews and then his jaw stopped. “No you didn’t. It fell off and you picked it up off the ground.” His eyes searched her for deception. “You can’t jump higher than me.”Eve said, “I made a rope to pull the branch down.”Adam studied her gaze and she returned it, defiantly. He broke the stare and stood up grasping a large stone from the pile. Eve brushed off some dirt from her thighs, began a list of things to say she’d been rehearsing. “There are going to be changes. First, you don’t touch me unless I want it. And I never want to be hit, pinched, slapped, called names, or yelled at. Second...”Adam said, “Look, a hummingbird.”Eve spun her head and he brought the stone down on the back of her skull. Before she lost consciousness, she smelled copper and felt a an itchy stickiness slide into her eyebrow.Eve woke to smoke everywhere. She stood and coughed, braced her arm over her mouth. Staggering here and there, she wove past burning grass, trees and bushes. The apple tree was blazing brighter than all else and looked to have a pile of blackened logs and brush at its base.Out of the garden area and into a clearing she found Adam, arms crossed and scowling. Smoke stained and sweat streaked, he resembled an animal.“What happened?” She asked.Adam hissed, “You ruined it. You ruined everything. You weren’t supposed to eat from that tree, I told you. I burn....it burned down. My cloud friend was angry.”Eve blinked and surveyed the torrent of flames that used to be home. “You burned it?”“No, my cloud friend did it. Told me to. He did it. Because you couldn’t do as you’re told. Now we have to find a new home. Come on, you bitch.”Adam grabbed her by the arm, but Eve wrenched it away. Her beautiful spot on the hill above the waterfall: destroyed. The lovely plants, the figs and nuts. Gone. Gone because of this brute. Her eyes seethed with rage and her lip quivered ready to scream. She stood with fists balled. They stared, neither blinking while ashes floated by.Adam held out his arm, gestured away from the blaze. “You coming?”