The place was perfect—Paradise.

The time? Well, time was endless and had little meaning for us.

My beloved Adam was the hero. God, the Eternal, moved with decisiveness and devotion among us while the serpent slithered satanically round the tree, waiting his chance. My name is Eve and this is my story.

I had everything, but I craved more, and in my frenzy to obtain it I stirred up a storm of events—a whirlwind that gripped me, shook me lifeless, and dashed me down in a strange and wicked land. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me go back and tell it as it was in the beginning.

O Fairest of Creation, last and best

Of all God’s works, creature in whom excelled

Whatever can to sight or thought be formed …

It’s true that I never viewed creation with the crisp curiosity of a little girl or the rose-colored vision of a young maiden. Yet I think no one ever cried “Hello, world!” with quite the same wonder and delight as I.

The first thing I knew I was standing in front of a huge, handsome creature who regarded me with such a mixture of amazement and appetite that even for that brief moment in which I didn’t know what sort of thing I was I knew I was something special.

“O Lord God,” Adam exclaimed, “this is finally what I want!” He grabbed hold of me as though he would never let me go. “This is bone of my bone. This is flesh of my flesh. I will call her she-man, for she is part of my body.” He said the word wo-man and with a sort of reverence, and hugged me close.

Then, awed by his own exuberance, he set me apart, and we stood quietly devouring the line and substance of each other so intensely that it seemed neither of the two of us would ever be able to separate from the one of us. I trembled at what I did not recognize then as the beginning of a complete human relationship.

Adam took my hand and led me through the park. It was like coming home, but to a new home. Like being someplace I’d always been, yet had never been. Eden teemed with life, whirring in the air, swimming through the rivers. The scent of virile beast and fertile soil hung everywhere about us. We walked through beauty—lovely, lacy, lush.

“All this land is ours to cultivate,” exclaimed Adam, standing tall and gesturing dramatically. How exultant he was as he displayed his domain. “We must care diligently for the plants and trees, for they will provide our food,” he said, “and we are to have mastery over all the animals as well.”

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The sunlight flickered through the trees, warming our bodies, and in its golden glow I caught the look on Adam’s face as he gazed at me. I felt wonderfully warm and somehow weak beneath his touch.

“I love you, wo-man.”

“I love you, man.”

We returned to Lord God, and there, where He had joined us, He formally commissioned us. Pity, oh pity the woman who has never stood in the cool of the day with her own true love in Paradise and been blessed by God, the Eternal. He was the “author of our being and our bliss.”

There was a primacy about Adam in our relationship. Lord God made him first and formed me as a helper fit for him. It’s difficult to think of Adam existing without me, but more difficult to conceive of my being apart from him. He was my background, the source from which I came and the scenery in which I moved.

I found nothing to object to in this, for no thought of superiority-inferiority came between us. I, too, was made to resemble Lord God. It was He who made us partners, not only in the production of offspring but in the controlling of all creation. I took my share of the blessing … and later of the blame. Everything that is distinctively female about me was conceived of first in the very good mind of God, the Eternal.

Whenever Adam called me she-man, I knew he realized I differed from him only in sex and in the qualities bound to my sex. He never thought of me as a lesser being. I was his helper, true. But then, Lord God Himself was helper to us both.

It’s difficult for me to analyze it now as I look back over the endless brown hours that separate the spoiled world in which I now survive from that resplendent one in which I once increased. An order of authority did hold in that world, and woman ranked below man in that order. But we couldn’t have understood what subservience or exploitation were had these concepts been urged upon us. I gave of myself to Adam with no thought of whether he gave to me in like manner, or even whether he appreciated what I gave, but only for the love of giving. For the love of Adam. I couldn’t give enough to him, nor he to me.

How Adam valued me. How he cherished me. He cared for me; he cared about me. He held me protectingly. I ended his solitude. He was whole with me.

And I was marvelously beautiful for him, though no child of nature but full-blown woman in spirit as well as body. A constant exchange of knowledge and affection flowed between us, a continuous feeding of complementary qualities. I experienced various kinds of fulfillment in those days, but I never felt a satisfaction greater than knowing I was what Adam needed.

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I could never decide whether the intimacy of mind we enjoyed was more created by or cemented by the communion of our bodies. I do know we experienced sex without selfishness. We looked at and handled each other with pleasure so intense it was close to pain, for no stimulus had been diminished by sin and no sense inhibited by shame. We knew absolute love, robust and refined.

Thou, therefore, also taste, that equal lot

May join us, equal joy, as equal love …

I can’t dwell on my sin. I cannot. I don’t know why I did it, but I do know I can’t plead innocence. I always liked pretty things. And I was hungry for new tastes, new thoughts, new heights of spiritual experience—just plain hungry to achieve. Somehow in the end I let these good and gratifying appetites become a greed, a blasphemy. I guess my sympathetic woman’s mind couldn’t quite believe Lord God’s stern edict.

At any rate I became a sinner one moment and a temptress the next. “Reach for the heavens with me, beloved,” I cried, and I pulled my beloved to the depths.

The next thing I knew we were hiding—hiding from Lord God in the bushes and from each other behind fig leaves, angry voices raised loud in accusation.

“It’s her fault,” Adam shouted. “She’s the one. She gave me the fruit.”

Pity, oh pity the woman who has stood in the chill of the day with a love grown false in Paradise Lost and been cursed by God, the Eternal. The feel of degration encased us.

I didn’t cry then, but later when Lord God made tunics of skin and clothed us with them I sobbed uncontrollably. I wore those clothes till they became hard and cracked and literally fell off my back, and even then I couldn’t throw them away. Somehow they symbolized for me the indomitable affection with which Lord God views His whole damned human race. He cursed me but He cared. It was too much for me.

He expelled us then from the garden He had planned for us. Adam shambled along by my side, but the air between us hung thick with a long, lethal loneliness.

How art thou lost! how on a sudden lost,

Defaced, deflowered, and now to death devote!

Adam changed in a moment. I saw it happen. And he continues to change to this day—a visible, audible, touchable, smellable decay.

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A sort of prickiness, a nettlesomeness invaded his life, and his work, once nothing but pleasure and pride, exhausted him. He worried a lot and grew irritable and harsh. A coarse, cruel ugliness violated the graceful artistry and basic kindness of nature, and Adam wrung his hands in helpless outrage. At first, that is. For as time passed some niceness in him shriveled, and he became insensitive to the beauty and the rights of creation. In the end, of course, he added to the whole defacing process.

Most of all, it seemed, he resented the gradual weakening of his own body. Frequently I’d catch him scrubbing his foot in the dust of the earth with the scent of wear about him. A bewildered look watered in his eyes.

As for me, I suffered repeatedly in childbirth. I don’t minimize it, and yet of all my punishment this pain has been the easiest to bear. For I would have children gladly, with or without the hazard and the hurt. And from something Lord God said to Satan that fateful day about my seed attacking Satan’s head, I hugged to myself the conviction that somehow through my bearing and rearing of children I was contributing to a process that would in some measure, at some time, in some way unknown to me, right the universal wrong I had committed. If it hadn’t been for this hope, I would never have survived. I’d hated Lord God for seeking me out in the garden that day, but often since then I’ve wondered: suppose He hadn’t come, suppose He’d let me wander endlessly alone in guilt and shame.

For there’s no shedding the blame that coats me as a second skin. What I suffered in the manner in which I lost my first two children I could never convey. Can you imagine my state as I watched every son come to hate every brother and each man develop his own method of destroying himself?

“You’ll become sophisticated,” Satan had implied. He’d implied nothing of the ravaging effects of remorse.

I remember, especially in the early days when Cain and Abel were small, how I’d beat them in rage all out of proportion to some mild infraction.

“No, mama, no!” I can still hear Abel’s screams.

“I’ll die! I’ll die!” Cain would cry. Always those same words, and always as I heard them I’d burst into a paroxysm of tears, as in some moment of partial truth, out of some corner of my mind, there would flick the memory of a serpent’s venomous tongue.

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“You shall not die,” he’d said. “You’ll be free of restraint,” he’d said. He’d said nothing of the loss of innocence.

And I thought I could sin with impunity.

Of course as Adam changed and I changed, our relationship was altered beyond recognition.

It began, I guess, with a simple rift in our rapport. The generosity went out of our goodness to each other, and we failed to move in on each other’s needs. As our love grew more and more stingy, each of us felt his value diminished, became lacking in a sense of his own worth. We became vulnerable and wrapped ourselves up tightly, defensively. The rift widened and we spiraled downward, round and round, down and down, with no way to break the fall.

Lord God had spelled out specifically what would happen to us. My desire would be to my husband, He’d said. He’d used such a strong word, as if the desiring would be almost a disease, that I’d have a violent craving for him. And how I have strained for love all through these years, for the love of my husband. Put all of us together, me and my daughters and daughters-in-law and numerous female cousins countless times removed, and more than anything else, it seems to me, we resemble a starving wolf pack, heads thrown back, howling our hunger to the moon. I’ve never known a man who had the time or inclination to develop the kind of relationship with his wife for which she craves.

“Your desire will be to your husband, and he will rule over you.” You won’t be able to live without him, but you won’t be able to live with him, either.

Adam was telling one of his famous Woman in Paradise stories to Irad and Mehujael the other day. It wasn’t a terribly proper story, and Adam told it in a loud, strutting voice that my woman friends and I in the next room couldn’t help hearing. That’s the way it is these days—Adam and his cronies in one corner and we in another, the subtle contempt they feel for us sounding through their loud guffaws.

Adam would go mad, I guess, if he couldn’t laugh. And we put him down just as adequately with our kitchen gossip as he puts us down with his jokes. He never used to laugh at me at all, unless in delight. Now even his humor intensifies the war between us, the hate in him and the fear in me.

I know I’ve lost my beauty. But Adam doesn’t have to follow the young girls swaying through the fields with such gluttonous eyes.

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Nor does he have to rule me with such disregard for my feelings. He capitalizes on his superior physical strength. Eve is Adam’s cheap labor. Eve is Adam’s sexual prey.

People around me seem convinced that goodness is dull, that perfection is stifling. Well, I too once thought I could sin with improvement.

A time or two I actually tried to go back. Senseless moments they were as I tore out of the house and down the lane. I never did get far before, out of breath and out of vision, I sank down at the side of the road, the swords of myriad cherubims flaming on my neck.

It would help, I know, if I had a forward look, some hope of a better land ahead to relieve the tedium and the trauma of these endless years. But I no longer hope.

Oh, sometimes I dream—an impossible dream, I know, but sometimes I just suppose there could be another first man. Silly as it sounds, a sort of second Adam. Someone who would be tempted but would not fall. Someone to walk by my side and let down a hand to me.

How I would grab it! How tightly I would hold!


From Jaffa, Jonah once set sail

To find himself sole cargo bale

In a submarine with a muscled tail.

Coward and rebel, determined to fail;

Slack to obey, and pitched over the rail;

Chagrined when his preaching was found to avail.

Jonah from Jaffa: blood brother we hail.


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