Eve clung to her son’s arm, begging him to stay. She could not bear to lose her first-born, regardless of what he had done. She felt him pulling away, gently at first, and then prying her fingers back forcibly. The sight of dried blood, still visible around his fingernails, made her retch onto the dusty ground. She lost her grip on his arm and then he was gone.
“Don’t leave me!” she screamed into the night. “It’s not your fault!” Her words echoed all around her, haunting her with their brutal truth. It wasn’t his fault. No, the blame was hers alone.
She stumbled forward in the darkness, then sank to her knees. Her hands clutched at the dirt as she sobbed. Small stones scraped against her fingers, drawing blood, but it wasn’t enough. She deserved more pain. She should be shedding her lifeblood.
A hand gripped her shoulder. She jumped to embrace her returning son, but came face-to-face with her husband.
“Eve.” His voice was hoarse. He pulled her to his chest and clung to her with the same helpless desperation that she felt. His tears wet her hair and his arms held her so tightly it hurt. It didn’t hurt enough.
Eve pulled back and looked into his eyes, searching in vain for some reassurance, some peace. “They’re both gone. Forever.”
“It’s my fault.” The weight of her guilt threatened to crush her. She wished it would. She didn’t want to draw another breath.
“No.” He held her face in both hands so she couldn’t look away. “Cain is responsible for his own actions.”
She wrenched herself out of his grip and stepped away from him. “It’s my fault.”
“Eve, don’t do this.”
“Don’t do what? Say it out loud? Admit the truth that we both know? It’s my fault!” she screamed. “All of it. All of these years of suffering. The pain, the back-breaking labour, the anger and impatience, the sickness and hunger – all of those things I could live with. I could take the blame for those things and we could move on. But this…my sons…”
“Abel is dead and Cain is cursed by God. Both of them are gone from us forever. I can’t…I can’t live with that guilt.” She sank to the ground again and stabbed her fingers into her hair, pulling, twisting, trying to numb the pain in her soul.
Suddenly Adam was beside her again, pulling her into his strong embrace. He rocked her gently, whispering soft syllables and stroking her hair. After several minutes, he softly spoke. “We both bear the blame of bringing sin into this world, but neither of us is responsible for the actions of our sons.”
Eve tried to believe his words, but they didn’t ring true. She’d started it all. None of this would have happened if she hadn’t touched that fruit. The details of that day were seared into her memory. The tempting words of the serpent. The aroma of the luscious fruit hanging just within her reach. The warm, smooth skin of the fruit that seemed to rebuke her and seduce her at the same time. That moment of ecstasy as the sweet juice flooded her senses and tingled its way down to her belly.
Eve moaned as the memories kept coming. Her outstretched hand offering the fruit to her husband. Delight at watching him experience the same sensations. And then the sudden realization of what they had done. They’d had to face God, bearing the stains of their guilt. Then they’d been banished forever from their home.
Now Eve sat in her husband’s arms and wept inconsolably. Together, they mourned the loss of their sons. And they clung to each other as tightly as they did to the hope that someday God would bring relief from the pain of their sin.
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