After Death

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The woman knew her husband was in a mood by the way he avoided her. It hadn’t been like that in the beginning. He had never prowled around in that sullen silence either. No, he had been effusively talkative, grabbing her hand and showing her a snail upon the melon leaves or flinging himself onto the grass to gaze upon the blue sky, his hand in hers. She hadn’t known how wild and free and daring he had been in those days, not until he changed.

She conceded she had changed as well.

Dinner was sparse–that was his fault; he hadn’t found anything better–and he chewed the tough roots with such an air of disgust, she forgot she had planned to stay silent and not play into his self-pity.

“Stop making faces. You think I like this?” she demanded. “I hate it.”

He looked defiantly at her. “And me?”

“Maybe I hate you too.”

“You should. I hate you enough most days.”

The words hurt. She was not used to such pain, and she wanted to lash out, to inflict pain in kind. She took a long breath, trying to calm herself. “So what happened, dear Husband, to put you in such a foul mood?”

He looked away. “I need a reason? Isn’t this enough?” He motioned to the tent behind them, to the fire and the hard ground where they sat. “This whole cursed world!” He stood and paced and let out a sudden sort of roar.

“Something did happen,” he said, sitting down again but shaking now with bottled energy. “I might as well tell you. Remind you. I went there today.”

“You said you were–”

“I lied. I meant to. But I went there. I had to see him again.”

The woman shook her head. “What’s the point?”

“He stood there, tall, much taller than you or me. I noticed that more this time, how large he is. How much more powerful. And he has that sword. It blazes, an edge of fire ready to consume us. I watched him, hidden, to see what he did. He did nothing but stand there, waiting. What is he waiting for? For us attack him? He would strike us down with a single blow. And so I stood and approached. I wanted to see what would happen. He watched me. His face was stern, and when I looked into those eyes, I saw how small and ugly and wretched I am. I turned and ran away.”

After a moment, he continued. “When I’m away from him, I think we can take it back, that we can reach out our hands and grab it, make things like they were before. But as soon as I look into that face….”

The woman’s initial thought was to berate her husband for his stupidity, but she knew that she felt the same, that she dreamed of going back, that she would do almost anything to reverse what had happened, and so she said nothing.

Evening came and darkness grew and they sat by their pitiful little fire, silent.

He spoke again, “This…death, everyday this dying, bit by bit. What hope have we?”

She answered. “Adam, you know.”

“When I look at His guard, I doubt He will restore us. He is so silent now.”

Eve looked at the sad form of her husband. “Do you really hate me?”

Adam looked up. “Sometimes. No, not often. Just when I hate myself.”

“Come here.”

He stood and walked slowly toward her.

“Something happened to me today,” she said. “I wasn’t going to tell you. I was going to keep it to myself.” She looked away from him, to the ground. “We’ve changed so much. We had everything, we had Him, and now all I want is mine, mine.” She looked up at her husband, saw his face illuminated in the fire light. She took his hand and pulled him down beside her. Then she placed the hand upon her round belly. “Do you feel it?”

A smile, slow and true, blossomed, an echo of his old joy. “It’s moving.”

“Father will bring us back,” she said. “He has promised us a child will bring us back. And He will forgive us.”

Adam kissed her gently on the cheek and wrapped his arm around her. She laid her head on his shoulder.

The darkness deepened and the fire burned and they sat in silence, listening for the voice they once heard.

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