When Eve Meets Adam

February 21, 2013
Moist brown dirt tickles the contours of my bare skin as my eyes blink open. With the graceful movements of a gazelle, I rise from the dust. Light trickles in through the treetops, creating speckled patterns across the ground. I take a deep breath of the pine, the woody dampness of the forest in its wakening. A beetle skits across the milky curve of my foot. I watch as its tiny legs move across me, tickling the nerve ends of my toes.
Slowly, I shake off the leaves that covered me in my sleep, brushing specks of dirt off my shoulders and the backs of my knees. My hair is a tangle of dense mist and tiny forest creatures, untamed and wild as the coyotes in my midst.

The air buzzes with the morning sounds of a million life forms. Ants scamper across the dirt, carrying their homes on their backs. The leaves rustle in the wind. Up in the trees, a mother calls out to her child, her screeches echoing off the bark hollows that are evidence of the erratic ticking of the woodpecker.

I begin walking in the direction of the cave where I keep my tools. My feet tread lightly along the ground, careful not to alert predators. Before the darkness of the cave passes into my view, I hear the water dripping down from its rooftop, eroding the rock as it hits the bottom meticulously. I glance inside of it to make sure that my sharpened wooden stick has remained untouched, then walk around to the water along its backside.

The stream runs calmly past rocks and the occasional drop of an acorn into the stagnant water of a small lake. The grass by the lakeside tickles my skin as I put my weight on both of my arms, then just one arm as I lean to dip my hands. The coolness is refreshing. I splash some water onto my face and on my neck, leaning forward on my knees to dip my arms. I shiver as my skin hits the water, then dive under head first to submerge my body into the cool calmness. I keep my head under as my body adjusts to the temperature. Then I break through the even surface of the water, and I wade over to the grassy edge and push myself up out of the lake, shaking my body back and forth to dry myself. I head back to the cave and sit at the edge of the black crevices, a clear view of the forest in front of me.

Out in the distance, a guttural moan. It tremors at the base of the trees, rolls across the forest floor, and pierces the soft whispers of work, stilling the forest into a momentary silence. Then it is over, cut off with the tear-hiss ripping of flesh. My body rises at the sound, hairs attentive and prickling. I crouch into an arched position, the tip of my spine pointed towards the sky. The crickets begin their chatter again. Left, right, above me, the animals retain their work. My eyes dart from side to side. The cutting smell of fresh meat permeates the air, filling my nostrils with a sharp hunger. I feel my legs hoist me upwards and the tips of my fingers push up from the moist ground, as I rise into a standing position. Then I grab my spear and start on my way.

The sounds of the forest are muted as I hear only my own breathing: in, out, in, out. My shoulders dip and rise as I walk, my moves graceful as a cheetah but with the focused stalk of a hunter. A rustle in the leaves behind me. I whip around and crouch behind a bush. The smell of freshly-torn flesh is all-encompassing now, pulling the concentration of all of my senses. I slide over a few bushes to the left and catch sight of a clearing in the trees. In the middle of the clearing lies a zebra, its guts spilling out in a pool of crimson to its side. Another rustle in the leaves far away, and the sound of careful paws trekking across the ground. The lion has not left much of its prey, but the smell of the fresh meat that is left is enough to quiet all of the other sounds around me and provide me with the quiet determination to go in for the scraps. I begin to stand up from behind the leaves, my spear pulled back in case another predator decides to take a bite. Right as I am about to step out, I sense a quieting in the forest around me. I crouch back, trusting the animals for their instinct of what is to come. The sound of footsteps approach. Too light to be a cheetah, too heavy to be a squirrel. I reason them as carrying a similar weight as my footsteps. I take another step back, wary of what is about to step into the clearing before me.

First I see its foot, creamy-peach like my own. I lower my spear but keep my fingers grasped tightly around it. My gaze travels up and I assess the invader. Strong legs, thicker than mine. Dirt and scattered blue-brown bruises running up its calves along with the soft whispers of light blond hair. Muscular stomach, bulging chest. Curved shoulders shaped by a tough collarbone and a sturdy neck. Standing upright like no other animal I’ve seen before. Except...I look down at myself, at my two-legged stance in my crouched position. I shift my position quietly behind the leaves uncertainly as I consider the invader’s similarity to me. It turns its face in my direction. Its eyes dart back and forth, the blue-grey calm before a storm. Hair the yellow-gold of the algae on the forest rocks cascades about its head. The spilled blood of the zebra stains the invader’s toes, its fingers marked by mud. In its toughened hands I see the capacity to kill; in its limbs the agility to run. Is this creature my predator or prey?

I take a deep breath and step cautiously into the clearing, spear by my side. Suddenly, his eyes lock onto mine. Panic shoots up my limbs; there is hunger in his gaze. I pull back my spear as I look over the puzzling creature.

I think I’ll call him “man.”

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