by Pierce Nahigyan
Sometimes Eve would leave the Garden to find the cave in the land of Nod. That was where Lillith slept, though not always where she could be found. Eve would wait in the mouth of the cave and smell its smells, listen to the drips in the pools and the flip of the strange blind fish that swam up from the underground river.
The land was arid around the cave, though not infertile. Brush and trees of crooked character stood guard underneath the escarpment that shadowed the cave, whose high cliff broke the plateau that led down from the Garden to the world. Nod frightened Eve. The only thing that frightened her more was Lillith.
But Lillith was the only other woman in existence.
If Lillith came back early from a hunt, she would find Eve in her cave. And, without speaking, she would make a fire and begin to spit the meat. As the meat cooked and dusk came on, Eve would come quietly from inside the cave and sit across from Lillith. The fire between them.
Sometimes Lillith would talk of the stars. Eve liked to talk of the stars. She seldom spoke of Adam and she did not speak of God. Eve often wondered if Lillith had forgotten God, for she never praised his miracles, never gave thanks for the food she ate, at least not in her presence.
In twilight, once, Eve asked, “Do you remember God?”
Lillith stared into the fire. Her eyes were not like Eve’s, nor Adam’s. They were of colors Eve did not know, for Adam had not named them. When the fire danced inside them they were luminous, like red stars. Finally, she spoke: “Are you talking about Adam?”
“God. Do you remember God?”
“They are one and the same to you,” said Lillith.
Once, Eve asked, “Have you seen the two trees which stand in the center of the Garden?”
Lillith offered her a rare glance and a rarer smile. Her lips were beautiful, full like Adam’s though the color of roses. Lillith said, “I would stay away from them, if I were you.”
“God told us to stay away.”
“I’m sure He did,” she said. “The fruit of one gives death, the fruit of the other gives life.”
“No,” said Eve, “that is not true.”
“Well, honey,” said Lillith, “why don’t you tell me what is true?”
The notion that rooted in her stomach was perfectly vague to Eve. It was a feeling, one Adam did not arouse in her, that was between anger and fear. After Eve left the Garden for the last time she recognized the feeling as indignity. She often felt it in Lillith’s presence and it was because Lillith teased her. After she had given painful birth and raised her sons she recognized the indignity as endemic to siblings.
“One tree,” said Eve, “is the Tree of Knowledge. The other is the Tree of Life.”
“As you like,” said Lillith. Eve did not like her smile but she was certain she could not imitate it. Even if she had wanted to try it for curiosity. For fun. “If you eat of the Life tree-” Lillith began.
“I will not eat of either,” said Eve.
“Of course not,” said Lillith. “But if you did, you would live forever. If you eat of the Tree of Knowledge, you will know good and you will know evil, and you will fall from grace, and you will leave the Garden and live in the world. As I do.”
This terrified Eve more than Nod’s shadows, its crooked trees, and Lillith’s tangled hair.
Lillith only watched Eve’s mouth, and her eyes, and then shrugged and rotated the spit. “I suppose it’s only a matter of time,” she said. “You’ve been eating them regularly.”
“I have not!” Eve cried. But it was true.
Lillith smiled again, softer. For a moment in the darkness.
When the smile died and the shadows grew longer, Eve whispered, “What shall I do?”
Lillith shrugged again. “I suppose you will do nothing until he catches you.”
“But I feel no different,” said Eve. “I wanted to protect him. He eats everything. I wanted to show him what would happen but I don’t…I don’t feel any different…inside.”
“I know,” said Lillith. “They’re just trees.”
“Then we will be safe,” said Eve.
“No,” said Lillith. “It doesn’t matter what trees do. He told you not to eat it.”
“Perhaps if I gave some to him, then he would see that there is nothing wrong, and then God would forgive us.”
Lillith smiled, and this smile was not sisterly, it was not cruel, and it was not of the Garden. It was a smile of the land of Nod. “Your man does not think the way you do.”
“Is it because I ate of the trees?”
“No, honey,” said Lillith. “Your man does not think the way you do.”
Eve began to cry. She never cried in front of Adam and she seldom cried in the Garden but for tears of joy. But she would cry in Nod. “I don’t understand,” she said. “I want to understand. I wanted to help him… That’s what I’m supposed to do…”
Lillith peeled off a piece of meat and wrapped it in a leaf. She rose from the fire and sat beside Eve, on the flat rock beside the mouth of her cave. She handed the meat to Eve and rubbed her back as she ate it and cried.