No Mercy in the Garden
by Kathleen Murphey
Eve opened her eyes and gazed about herself in wonder. A being like herself was staring at her intently, kneeling beside her. She glanced down at herself, taking in her form for the first time. Wavy brown hair trailed down her back and shoulders. It tickled. She had full rounded breasts and hips and long shapely legs, and there was different coarser hair over her vagina. She glanced back at the being in front of her and realized that he was like her and yet not like her at the same time. They must have been of the same species—their fair skin seemed the same, their limbs mirrored each other (arms, legs, torsos). He had breasts too but they were not full like hers, and although he had pubic hair that was coarse like hers, from the midst of his was a penis and scrotum. Where his chest was broad and his hips narrow, her hips were wide and her shoulders were more delicate. His face was full of sharp lines, his nose and the edges of his jaw. Her hand reached and felt her face. It seemed softer somehow, but she wasn’t sure. Was there any way for her to see herself, she wondered?
“Eve?” the being said softly. He held out his hand to her, and she shifted, taking his hand and sitting up. “I am Adam, and you are my wife. God created you to be my companion and my helper,” he said excitedly. He rose to his feet and brought her with him.
Eve looked at him in confusion. Wife? God? Created for him? For Adam? Why not the other way around, him for me, or both together? “Wife?” she managed to ask.
“Yes, wife,” and he reached up with his hand to stroke her face. It felt nice. As his fingers traced over her face, his thumb found her mouth. It caressed her lips, and she parted them. He had been standing close to her, but suddenly, he was shockingly close. His face bent toward hers, and he moved so that their bodies were pressed together. His lips met hers, and he wrapped his arms around her in an embrace. The sensations were pleasing. She kissed him back, their tongues exploring each other’s mouths, and her arms wrapping around him. Their hands roamed over their bodies, and though they had just stood up, they sunk back to the ground, and their mouths traveled over other parts of their bodies. Instinctively, they seemed to know what to do. They seemed to know that moving his penis in and out of her vagina would be intensely pleasurable to him but that she needed to be sexually aroused differently. He touched her breasts and her nipples. Her sexual arousal was as exciting to him as it was for her, and his increasing erection made his penis throb. They moaned with pleasure, and he touched her and found her clitoris and made her come. It was fascinating and erotic. She was ready. Gently, he pushed his penis into her vagina, and it was heaven for him. She was wet enough that it was easy for a rhythm to develop between them, and then it was his turn to come, and his orgasm mirrored hers, the ecstasy of it, the pleasure of it. This was wonderful. They lay in each other’s arms, happy and content.
“Wife?” she repeated, “and what are you?”
“Wife,” he said again. “I am your husband. A man and a woman are joined as one in marriage. You are mine, and I am yours.”
Again, his explanation raised as many questions as answers. Why one? Why not two in a partnership? Two as One implied a dominant one and a passive one; she didn’t like that implication. It seemed dangerous. She had been created for him. Clearly, she didn’t seem to count as much as he did—why was that? A companion and a helper was a partner, wasn’t she? Yours? Possessive. Could one person belong to another? Should one person belong to another? Why couldn’t each person belong to him or herself? “Marriage,” she repeated a little numbly. He kissed her gently, soothingly. He pulled away from her and rose to his feet. Again, he held out his hand for her, and she let him pull her up.
“Come,” he said softly. “Let me show you the Garden,” and he led her through the Garden, showing her the various plants and flowers, the fruits and herbs and vegetables. He showed her the beasts of the fields and the birds of the air. He told her all their names. He explained that he had named them all, and she felt a rush of irritation. God had given Adam the task of naming everything. God had thought so little of her that she had no voice in the naming of the things and creatures in their world, and he, Adam, didn’t feel that this was wrong or an oversight. What kind of man was she bound to? Pulling her out of this train of thought, he showed her the trees in the Garden, and last of all, he showed her the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and he told her that God had forbidden them to eat of this specific tree because, if they did, they would surely die. Questions flared in her mind again. Why would God want to withhold knowledge from us? What was good? What was evil? What was death? What was this God like?
Calming her mind, she asked, “What is God like?”
“He is our all-powerful father. He created everything, the earth and the stars, you and me, every living on thing on the earth and this Garden, the Garden of Eden, a paradise for us.”
“And he has no companion? Is he not lonely?” she asked curiously.
“He has us,” Adam answered.
They picked fruits and berries and ate contentedly. As the sun set, they huddled together and whispered to each other until they were tired, and then they fell asleep in each other’s arms. The days passed pleasantly. They continued to explore the Garden and each other. Making love was exciting and fun. They did it every day sometimes multiple times. The more practiced they became, the more they realized that Eve could come frequently whereas Adam usually need to rest some before getting aroused again.
One day, Eve was by herself gathering nuts and berries when the serpent walked through the grass revealing himself to her. “Woman,” he said, “why don’t you collect the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil?”
“Because God said that the fruit would kill us?” she answered.
“The fruit will not kill you. It will make you like God. You will know good and evil,” he said slyly. He left her after that. She stared after him and did not know what to make of this contradictory information. Surely, they should have knowledge. Surely, they should know about good and evil. She pushed the thoughts from her mind.
That night, cradled in Adam’s arms, she asked, “What is good?”
“Eve,” he said cautiously. “Why do you want to know?”
“I just don’t understand what it is or what evil is? What is our point here in the Garden? We are alive for what purpose?” she answered.
He kissed her suggestively, and she laughed. “Yes, yes, but seriously,” and she pulled away from him.
He looked at her, “I don’t know our purpose beyond tending and keeping the Garden and being together, but I am content. We have everything we need, and we have each other. Isn’t that enough? Why are you asking?”
She told him what the serpent had said to her. He frowned, “We cannot risk going against God. He created all this. He could take it away too. Eve, please. What you are suggesting scares me.”
“But we are all that God has? Doesn’t he love us, like I love you and you love me?” she asked. “I mean, we have argued and disagreed, but we have forgiven each other because that’s what people do who love each other.”
“But we are human, Eve. I don’t know how God would react to disobedience. Please stop this,” he implored.
She relented reluctantly and nuzzled into his chest. Sleep came easily, and the next morning was spectacular. The sun streamed through the Garden, making everything lush and exquisitely beautiful. After they had made love, they searched together for food, but they found little—only a few berries and nuts. They ate those quickly, but they were not enough to sate their hunger. They split up to cover more ground, and Eve found herself before the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The fruit looked so ripe and so good that she couldn’t resist. She plucked one of the fruits and bit into it. It was wonderful, and it sated her hunger in just the one bite. Adam called out for her, and she brought him the fruit. He had found nothing and looked curiously at the fruit in her hand.
“Eve, what is that?” he asked carefully.
“You know,” she answered.
“We can’t,” he said automatically and stepped back from her outstretched hand holding the fruit.
“I am full from a single bite,” she answered.
Hunger won over caution, and Adam took the fruit from her hand and bit. It was just as she had said, delicious and filling. He looked at her, and she looked at him, and their eyes were opened. They were naked, and somehow that was wrong; it was evil. Their being sexual together, naked and exploratory, had been absolute bliss, sheer pleasure, ecstasy, heaven on earth, and now it was turned into something dirty and tawdry. They found leaves to cover themselves, and they hid.
Eve’s mind rebelled against this shame she felt over her sexuality, because as she understood their nakedness, she also knew other things about good and evil. Good was music, art, love, joy, compassion, creativity, poetry, literature, kindness, generosity, empathy, sympathy, tenderness. Evil was murder, greed, violence, hate, slavery, cruelty, war, rape, division, superiority, intolerance. That sexual knowledge, the ultimate connection between two human beings, could be considered knowledge of evil instead of the knowledge of good made no sense to her. But this was a God who discounted her, discounted a woman, perhaps all women. This was a God who had no companion, who did not share his life with an equal partner—who saw no one as equal to himself. This was a God who did not truly love—but only commanded and punished. Fear engulfed her. They would be punished for their breach of the command not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Paradise would be stripped away from them, and their relationship would become more antagonistic than ever. She, the woman, would suffer the most, because this God had thought of her as the least worthy.
In knowing about good, she also realized that she was pregnant. A life was growing in her womb. She knew she would do anything for this life. She hoped that Adam would feel the same way. They would be parents, and they would love their child. God had created this capacity. What did that say? Why didn’t he feel that way for them? Unlike the other animals who reproduced in the Garden, Eve sensed that their human infant would need their care desperately and for a long time. That’s why humans loved, so they could stay together as a family and do things that went far beyond what were convenient or in one’s self-interest. Communal effort would be needed to raise human children—by both parents—perhaps even beyond a child’s mother and father—and Eve wondered about a world where there were more humans than just them. Perhaps in such a world the women would help each other with childbirth, childcare, and in other things, the men and women would work together. Her musings were broken when God entered the Garden.
God called for Adam. He didn’t have a corporeal form but was a staggering presence. Eve was afraid of him, and the contrast between what she felt for the child in her womb and what God seemed to feel for her was startling. She would forgive her child nearly anything—and yet this God would not, she knew.
“Why are you hiding from me?” God asked. “Come forward,” he demanded.
Adam obeyed, grasping Eve’s wrist and pulling her forward with him.
“You have disobeyed me, Adam. You have eaten the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil,” God thundered at them.
Adam trembled before God and turned to blame Eve. “She, the woman, Eve, ate of the fruit and gave me some,” he said lamely.
Eve thought of blaming the serpent, but she didn’t think it would help. “We were hungry, God. Please be merciful,” she begged, but she knew her pleas would be disregarded.
“No. You will be removed from the Garden, and all that was provided here so easily will cause you toil and labor. Adam will rule over Eve, and Eve will have difficulty in childbirth. Your lives will be finite, so you will know death. Though you do not mention the serpent, I know of his involvement. His legs will be stripped away, and women and serpents will be enemies forever.”
Adam was too overcome to speak. Eve gasped and said, “My God, isn’t being driven from the Garden enough of a punishment? All these others—how will we bear them? How will I bear them since most of them seemed aimed at me? I thought you made me to be Adam’s partner not his servant. Don’t you love us?”
“I am God. I gave you life,” God answered angrily.
“But is that enough? I am with child, but for it to survive and flourish, Adam and I will need to do much more than simply give birth to it—a birth now that will be difficult. Please do not abandon us,” she implored. “To error is human, and to forgive is divine, is it not?”
But God had turned away from them and was gone. Fire flashed through the sky. Cherubim with flaming swords appeared in the sky. They landed around Adam and Eve and drove them from the Garden.
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Kathleen Murphey is an Associate Professor at Community College of Philadelphia. She had her first play performed as part the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, P Pan and Beyondland, with performances at the German Society of Pennsylvania on Saturday September 15th and Sunday September 16th, 2018. More information about her and the play can be found at her Website, www.kathleenmurphey.com.