FathomOnline

 

 Fathom 1991

Cover

 

Inside Cover

 

Poetry

R.A. Killawee
Gina M. Beaton (2)
Kathlyn Schweyer
M. Littlejohn
Martin Wanless
Thane K. Sherrington (2)
Edward W. N. Meers (2)
Roz
Gwynedd Morgan
Shannon Webb (2)
Anton (3)
John D. Boutilier (2)

Prose

Katie Bowden
Urs Frei
Derrick Higginbotham

[PDF]

Katie Bowden

 

 

Eve and the Garden

     She was walking through the perfumed air of the silent forest, her bare feet padding softly, like a heartbeat, on the soft earth floor. Everything was strangely quiet, and all of the newly named animals were mute. The silence hung in the air like the curtains of suspended flower pollen, feather down, and stardust.
     It was because of the quiet that she was able to hear the voice, speaking low enough and soft enough to seem like a feather touching the golden hairs of her inner ear, or like a tiny wingbeat as a bird flew by her cheek. She stopped, and as the noise in her wake dissipated, she was encased in the fragrant silence.
     The voice, no longer unintelligible, reached though the sparkling air and touched her earlobe gently. “Come.”
     The tiny perforation in her soft encasement withdrew, and left her wondering if she had imagined it. She strained forward, squinting and wrinkling her nose in concentration. “Come.”
The breathy voice was significantly louder, and it had a definite place of origin. She turned to face the direction from whence it had come, her eyes searching the shimmering particle-filled air.
     Slowly, almost so that she didn’t notice, the silence changed. Shrugging, she began to walk again, but as her footfalls became more audible on the forest floor carpeted with flowers and dried leaves, the voice, growing in its insistency, spoke again. “Come.”
     Frowning, she stopped, and her searching gaze rested upon a nearby apple tree. Tiptoeing towards it, she sensed the growing anxiety in the air and searched the area with an innocent apprehension. She had never been this far into the forest before, and she realized with some trepidation and a great deal of curiosity that she had penetrated the forbidden center of the forest; and this was the Tree. He had spoken of this place as dark and frightening, but instead it was even more shimmering and magical than the rest of the forest. The air was punctuated by tiny silver butterflies that would disappear into the clusters of apple blossoms, feeding on the sweet pollen and sugary blooms.
     Enchanted, she walked slowly toward the Tree, which lay at the center of a mossy clearing. Approaching a low hanging branch, she noticed how the burden of the fruit caused the lesser branches to swoop earthward in lazy arcs. She gazed at the flawless red skin of a nearby apple. Only then did she notice it.
     It was enormous. Its brown skin blended perfectly with the mottled bark of the Tree. Slowly, it tightened its coils around the branch, moving toward her, sun glinting off its scales. It stared fixedly into her eyes. She was not frightened. The snake manoeuvred so that its triangular head was level with hers, and then began to sway, as if trying to examine her from every angle. Its eyes were hard.
     They remained like this for several moments, until she spoke, startling into flight the dozen butterflies that were resting upon her head, attached to strands of her hair.
     “What are you?” She had not seen anything like it before.
     “I am snake,” it said, and she knew it was the owner of the low, breathy voice that had led her through the forest.
     “Snake?” she asked, leaning her head to one side, her eyes trying to follow the swaying body.
     “Do you like these?” it said, eyes fiercely fixed upon her. She knew it meant the forbidden fruit, and was momentarily frightened.
     “Yes.”
     “Take one. They are very good.”
     “But they are the fruit of the Tree, and I must not be temped by them.”
     “You are hungry,” said the snake, causing her to frown, “and why is it bad to eat these lovely apples?”
     “Because this is the Tree,” she whispered.
     “Is this tree different from other trees?” the snake said. “How can these apples be different from any others?”
     “I know they are, because He told me so.” A small tremor shook her voice, and she looked about her.
     “He told you not to eat these lovely apples even when you are hungry?” asked the snake thoughtfully.
     “Yes,” she answered, “for they are the fruit of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.”
     “Why, then, must you not eat them?”
     “Because if I do, I will surely die,” she said, repeating what He had told her on many occasions.
     “Did He tell you why you will die if you eat the apples?” the snake asked reasonably.
     After a pensive moment she replied, “I will die because they are Evil. “
     “Evil!” The snake recoiled, and its gaze became more stern. “Why?”
     She was silent.
     “Why did He not tell you why they are evil? What does He hide from you?”
     “He hides nothing from me!” she cried, trying to cover the doubt in her voice with the loudness of her exclamation.
     “If He hides nothing from you, then why does He not tell you about this fruit?” The snake moved closer, and watched her facial expressions.
     “Do you not want the answer?”
     The sky dimmed, and the sparkles that were suspended in the air blinked out. The butterflies disappeared. The forest became grey. And the snake continued.
     “This fruit will provide you with the answers to the questions He leaves unanswered.”
     “I do not want to die,” she said, nervously.
     “You surely will not die,” replied the snake. The forest grew dimmer. The wind began to blow, distorting the voles of the snake, and she knew He must be listening.
     Raising her voice so that she could be heard over the rising wind, she cried, “I will not eat your evil fruit, for I trust and love Him, and will not allow myself to be tempted toward evil!”
     And then He struck fear into her heart, and she looked at the snake, whose eyes were glowing red in the darkness, and was afraid. She ran through the forest, her eyes streaming in the powerful wind. The once silvery particles were now hitting her face like little pellets of sand. Because of the growing darkness and the violent winds, she could not find her way back to the edge of the forest, and wandered about aimlessly, crying and tripping over fallen branches.
     Finally she burst out of the chaos that the forest had become. Here, the wind stopped its dreadful howling, and the darkness melted into a beautiful sunset. The fear inside her eased. She slept.
     When she awoke, her hair tangled with flowers and dried leaves from the forest floor on which she had slept, there was no sign of the terrible storm which had swept the forest the night before. She frowned when she thought of the snake, and felt pleased that she had not let it tempt her. She hoped that He was pleased with her.
     She paused, and realized that she felt none of the benevolent presence that always accompanied her.
     “Hello!” she called into the bird-filled blue sky. No one answered her. Her eyes grew large and frightened, and she leapt up from the earth.
     “Hello!” Her voice echoed off the vaulted sky, and still nobody answered. He was gone.
     In despair, she paced the ground. She could not understand why He had left her. Was He angry? What had she done? She stopped, and in her mind’s eye saw the snake. She saw the red of its eyes and of the apples nearby. Chilled, she realized that something must have gone wrong.
     “Snake has made him disappear,” she said to herself, as she turned and faced the forest. “If He is gone what will I do?” She began running toward the centre, toward the Tree. Suddenly, it was before her, but the snake was gone.
     “Help me!” she cried to the forest. Looking at the Tree, she again saw the beautiful fruit, and felt hungry. The snake was not there. Nobody was there.
     “Snake!” she cried, “Snake!”
     After a moment, there was a small rustling of leaves, and the snake spiralled its way up the trunk of the tree, keeping its gaze fixed firmly upon her.
     “Why is He gone?” she demanded, feeling a burning sensation of tears behind her eyes.
     “He is gone,” said the snake, smiling, “because you have no need for Him anymore.”
     “But I do need Him! Why did He leave me?”
     “Because you have the Knowledge of Good and Evil.”
     “What?’ she exclaimed, frustrated. “But I did not eat the fruit!” She hoped He could hear her.
     “He told you to stay away from here because you would have to choose to eat the fruit or not to eat it. That choice is the Knowledge of Good and Evil. I knew you would arrive when it was time, and so did He. We both waited.”
     She said nothing. She was completely confused.
     “You chose without consuming the fruit.... You chose,” the snake said soothingly.
     “But I chose not to eat the fruit,” she protested helplessly.
The snake moved very close to her. “You chose nonetheless... You chose Good over Evil.”
     The snake vanished, and as it melted away, she understood. Sitting down on the damp moss, she began to cry. Before the first tears touched the soil beneath her, she saw the piles of stinking. decaying apples beneath the Tree, and heard the sickening buzz of flies eating the fermenting, uneaten fruit. She huddled under the huge tree, chilled by her nakedness.
     The gate to the forest had been opened, and a cold wind blew.

 

last updated August 17, 2007 | © 2007 Fathom Publishing
poetry, prose, and artwork © individual authours | website created by Alana Paul