Chapter Five

“Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil.  And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”–therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden.  Genesis 3:22-23 NKJV

Wisdom paused at the edge of the Garden, scanning the horizon. Sweet magnolia tickled her nose while a gentle breeze caressed her face. She smiled. It felt like the Master’s touch. Glancing over her shoulder, Wisdom sought the keepers of the Garden.

Woman sprawled on her stomach in the middle of a field, a large blue and silver butterfly clinging to each splayed hand. Adam swung onto a horse. Whispering in the horse’s ear, Adam urged the horse toward his wife at a full gallop. Startled, Woman looked up, the butterflies taking flight. Adam and the horse circled her, then the horse reared, hooves slicing the air. She cheered and clapped, and the horse dropped back to earth. Adam leaned far over the horse, hand outstretched.

A monkey jumped onto the horse’s rump from a tree above and slapped it, pushing Adam from his precarious position in one swift motion. Adam tumbled on top of his wife, and the horse bolted while the monkey screeched and chortled. Adam jumped to his feet and tore after the animals, Woman’s laughter ringing after them.

The horse thundered past, skirting Wisdom with a shake of his mane.

Wisdom laughed and watched Adam surge past the horse.

Adam jogged toward Wisdom, the monkey dangling from his shoulders. The horse grazed far behind him.

“I love how fast Horse is! Did you see that? I almost wasn’t able to pass him, but he wasn’t about to run faster than me.” Adam beamed with pleasure.

Monkey placed a leaf on Adam’s head. “You wouldn’t have passed him at all had I not been on his back.”

“Be nice,” Wisdom scolded as she disentangled the monkey from Adam’s arm, lifting it to the branches above.

Adam’s eyes sparkled as he stared up at Monkey.

“Oh, is that so? I guess we’ll have to have another race then. Just Horse and me. Would you care to watch and tell us who’s faster?”

“It would be my pleasure,” said Monkey as he languidly peeled a mango and sucked the juices from the fruit.

The woman skipped toward them.

“Did you see the race, Wisdom? Isn’t Adam fast?” Woman grinned in delight and gave her man an admiring glance. Adam ducked his head and grinned as a flush crept up his neck.

“Yes, he was, dear one. God made him perfect indeed. Don’t forget, tonight I’m going to teach you about the Andromeda Galaxy. Maybe we’ll even visit it. Sound good?”

“Oh yes!”

“Yes, please!”

Wisdom chuckled as their voices chimed together, their faces lit with the same eager anticipation.

“All right. Enjoy yourselves, loves. I’ll be around!”

Wisdom gave them a huge smile and a wave then glided back to the Garden’s perimeter. She scanned the horizon again, satisfied that there was no unaccounted movement.

It had been weeks and none of her fallen brothers or sisters had come near the Paradise.

But she wasn’t about to let up her vigilance.

Changing direction, she meandered through the thick foliage at the Garden’s edge, keeping part of her attention on Adam and his wife.

Cool liquid bit into Wisdom’s ankles. She looked down. Clear water gurgled by and she wiggled her toes, enjoying the refreshment. She shook her head and smiled as she thought of Discretion. Discretion would love it here if she would just brave the flight.

Climbing the bank, she froze while clutching a vine, tendrils of black hair wafting across her face in the gentle breeze.

An unfamiliar whimpering noise tugged at her heart.

Checking behind her, Wisdom was satisfied to see that Adam and the woman were kneeling beside a perfect little lamb, tufts of snowy curls making the spotless creature even more adorable. They were quite safe.

Wisdom crept forward. Pushing her thick hair out of her face with one hand and parting the leaves with the other, she peered through the branches.

Folly sat on a boulder outside of the lush greenery, her back to Wisdom. Her shoulders heaved and shook as she whimpered.

Wisdom stared in pity at the spindly, shriveled nubs where gorgeous, downy wings used to be. The once creamy shoulders were dry and flaky—grime caked to them. Her fiery red hair was singed short, and, even from a distance, the putrid odor of burnt skin and hair stung Wisdom’s nose. The horrendous sight held Wisdom captive.

A slight breeze ruffled the leaves, and Folly turned, looking straight at Wisdom. Folly gasped when their eyes met and dove behind the boulder.

Wisdom stood motionless, heart breaking. Her sister’s lovely face was almost unrecognizable. Charred skin clung tightly to the delicate bone structure. The vibrant purple—sometimes green or orange—eyes were now a murky gray, dull and lifeless. But worst of all, fear, decay, and hatred clung to her sister’s shrunken frame instead of the peace and pure joy from before.

Wisdom tried to steel her weeping heart and leave, but she couldn’t. The pitiful noises continued, softer now.

“Pru—” She straightened, authority bleeding into her posture. “Folly. Come here.”

Folly immediately obeyed, trembling. She slunk near the ground, crawling on her hands and knees.

The sight tore Wisdom. She squared her shoulders, determined to be strong.

“What are you doing near the Garden? You are not welcome here.” Wisdom’s commanding voice echoed off of the surrounding hills and bounced back to them.

Folly sighed and hung her head, her shoulder blades nearly piercing through the ragged skin.

“I was trying…trying to remember. Absence from the lord’s presence is such torment. Oh! If only I hadn’t—but no, it’s too late.”

Wisdom struggled with her desire to hold Folly tight in her arms.

“Too late for what, fallen one?”

Folly blew out a gentle breath and raised her head. Their eyes met.

“Too late to repent.”

Folly’s expression crumpled, and Wisdom glimpsed tears before Folly fled.

Joy leapt like a flame in Wisdom’s chest.

But, oh! It is never too late to repent, dear one!

Wisdom surged into the air and snapped her wings, charging after her sister. As she tried to follow Folly’s erratic flight pattern, her heart sang within her.

Can you imagine the pleasure on my Lord’s face when I bring back one of his precious angels?

Folly disappeared from sight. Slowing, Wisdom carefully searched the lovely terrain far from the Garden. Wisdom spotted Folly hunched against a tree, charred fingers swiping at the sooty trails down her face.

She’s fast for not having any wings.

She eased to the ground behind the weeping figure. Wisdom reached for her sister, but the wind blew a gut-wrenching stench in her face and she pulled back.

“Folly.”

She spun around, shock and fear stilling the tears.

“You…you followed me!”

“Of course.” Wisdom smiled and forced herself to sit next to her sister. The smell was unbelievable. Her entire being protested being near such decay. “It is never too late to repent, darling. Go to Him. Tell Him you are sorry. He’ll forgive you; I just know it.”

She placed her hand on the raw and peeling skin of Folly’s shoulder, but Folly winced and jerked away.

“Oh, I couldn’t!” Folly jumped to her feet and whirled away.

Wisdom’s hand scorched, but new skin quickly replaced the melted. She stared at the handprint seared onto Folly’s shoulder. She hadn’t meant to hurt her, but…

Folly clenched and unclenched her fists.

Wisdom frowned as she stood. Was she struggling with pain? Or…or…anger?

“He would never forgive me for what I did. Never.”

Folly faced Wisdom once again. Wisdom’s knitted brows eased. Folly’s countenance wore only sorrow and repentance.

“Of course He’ll forgive you! I know He misses you. I miss you. Discretion misses you. Please come home, my love.”

Folly tilted her head, a smirk tugging up the corner of one split lip.

“You are sure he’ll forgive me?”

“Oh, yes! Completely!”

“Do you think he’ll forgive you?”

Confusion clouded Wisdom’s expression for an instant as Folly pointed over Wisdom’s shoulder.

Wisdom spun around. Her eyesight flew across the miles, and she easily saw the woman lift a piece of fruit to her mouth, take a bite, then hand it to her husband.

Wisdom’s stomach knotted.

“You…you distracted me.”

Folly threw back her head and cackled.

“For once not so wise, eh, sister?”

Tears clogged Wisdom’s throat, and she slowly pivoted toward Folly.

“Never again, do you hear me? Never again will you distract me from my task.”

Folly crossed her arms and leaned against the rough bark of a sturdy tree. Victory surged on her face.

“Doesn’t matter now, does it? Damage has already been done.” She grinned. “Go console your beloved creatures in their disobedience.” She cocked her head, mocking, puzzled. “Or will you cast them away from you like you did me?”

Wisdom hurtled off the ground toward her charges.

Her heart screamed within her as she barreled toward the Garden.

She had failed. She had failed her Master. She had failed His most prized creation.

Folding her wings, she plummeted to the ground next to them.

“Adam, what have you done?”

She stepped closer.

“Why have you disobeyed the Maker? What have you done?”

The fruit lay on the ground next to them, and they looked at each other, panicked.

She stepped closer and reached out her hand. It passed right through them.

“No…”

Wisdom’s blood turned to ice as evil laughter filled the air.

“How’s the maker’s little pet, today? Having a bit of a rough day, are we?”

Wisdom spun and saw Satan standing next to a serpent, stroking the cunning snake’s head.

She swiveled away, her back to him. She spread her wings wide, keeping herself between the creatures and the fallen one.

“You’re…you’re naked.”

Wisdom’s eyes widened as she stared at the man and woman. What did they mean? Adam’s eyes dropped, and an expression she had never seen before filled his face.

Wisdom blushed and looked away. Lust. She wasn’t sure how she knew, but she did.

“Adam! Stop it! We need—I need, something to cover myself—to cover up. Hand me those leaves, quick! Shut your eyes! Don’t look!”

Woman ripped a vine from a nearby plant and started stringing giant elephant ear leaves together. She made a robe of sorts and dropped it over her shoulders. Adam still hadn’t quite recovered.

She started on a second garment.

Wisdom watched them in astonishment. What did they mean they were naked? The Lord had made perfect coverings for them, just like he had the animals. Why were they veiling themselves?

And they were acting so strangely. Blushing, stammering, not looking at each other. What had the fruit done to them?

“Here.”

The female Adam thrust another robe at Adam and helped him tug it over his head.

“There. That’s better. Oh, Adam, what are we going to do?”

“I don’t know.” Gasping, Adam grasped his wife’s hand and yanked her deep into the foliage of a nearby bush.

Was he…was he…hiding? Wisdom stared with her mouth parted. Didn’t he know the Maker could see right through the trees?

Satan took a step forward.

“Here’s the part where they die!” he crooned to the snake, not bothering to mask his giddiness.

Wisdom stood firm, keeping herself between Satan and her charges.

“They have died today, Satan, but not in the way you were expecting.”

Wisdom’s heart thundered at her Maker’s voice. He had slipped into the Paradise as the sun began its nightly descent. Fear pounded in her temples even as joy sprang in her heart.

Tears slipped down her cheeks, and she struggled with her desire to throw herself at His feet.

Love rubbed away a trickling tear as He passed her. She peeked up at Him.

Sorrow and compassion filled His eyes.

How she longed for the day—not very long ago—where His eyes held nothing but smiles and laughter.

Standing before the place where the man and woman were hiding, He spoke softly.

“Where are you?”

His quiet voice pulled her from own sorrow, and she straightened to attention.

Adam trembled as he emerged, clutching the hastily threaded leaves to himself.

“I h…heard your v…voice and was afraid because I was n…naked, so I hid.”

His words tumbled and fought for dominance. Wisdom’s brow furrowed. Adam had never had trouble speaking before.

The Lord frowned.

“Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?”

Movement from Satan drew her attention.

“You. Stay.” The Lord pointed one commanding finger at the retreating snake and Satan, and both stood rooted to the spot.

Wisdom twisted back to the creation and their Creator.

Their conversation swirled around Wisdom. It was all she could do not to wince with each new pronouncement from the Lord.

“In pain you shall bring forth children.”

“Cursed is the ground for your sake.”

Except for Satan’s. His curse was a tad on the light side. Wisdom would have obliterated him if she were the one handing out judgment. Her heart skipped a beat.

Everything the Lord does is perfect, she chided herself, determined never to rebel, not even in her thoughts.

“Oh, my Lord! It is too much for me to bear!” Adam cried as he threw his hands over his face and wept.

The woman dropped to her knees, keening and wailing.

Love gathered them to Himself and held them until their tears lessened. He kissed each of their foreheads and, veering away, strode toward the lamb grazing nearby.

Wisdom craned her head and watched Satan slink out of the Garden. She took comfort in the Master’s promise that Satan would remain defeated, no matter what he threw at the Lord’s precious creatures.

The woman gasped, and Wisdom spun around. Wisdom gagged and grabbed the nearest tree for support. The perfect little lamb lay bloody and gory on the ground, stripped of its skin.

Wisdom’s chest rose and fell and blood pounded in her ears. The Maker meticulously scraped fat from the skins, rubbed salt on them, and dried them. Rubbing an acidic mixture on them, He once again dried them and stretched them tight. Threading a bone needle with lamb-gut thread, He sewed together two simple garments.

Wisdom took a deep breath and straightened when the Lord stood and walked back to them. He tugged the leaves free and dropped the new clothes over his creatures’ heads.

Wisdom could see the exceptional craftsmanship. The leather was soft and supple, the creamiest of whites. As Adam and his wife fingered their garments, the King turned and walked away from them.

Two more Lights appeared in the Paradise, and Wisdom plunged to her knee and dropped her head in respect.

“They are like Us now, knowing good and evil.”

“We can’t let them stay, lest they eat from the tree of life and live forever like this. It would be pure torture.”

“Agreed. They must go.”

Two of the Lights faded from sight, and the King returned to the man and woman.

“You must go, never to return.”

Adam and his wife nodded, shamefaced. Woman stared between the lamb and her clothes and squirmed, her face a greenish hue. She fingered the soft clothing and tugged it away from her skin.

A sentry with a sheathed sword walked toward them and motioned with one hand toward the East entrance.

“Wait.” Adam took a deep breath and pulled his wife close. “I have one more task.” He took Woman’s chin gently into his firm hand. “Your name is no longer ‘Woman,’ but ‘Eve.’”

Eve nodded, tears thick in her lashes.

Adam wrapped his thick arm around her slim waist, gently leading her from the Garden.

Eve turned around before the ground dipped out of sight, casting one longing glance back at Paradise, but the flaming sword blocked her view.

“Eve.”

Wisdom tasted the woman’s new name on her tongue. It was strange, different, but it worked.

Her heart squeezed as she watched the two leave the Paradise of God.

Wisdom stared after them long after they had disappeared from sight.

 

Wisdom and Folly: Sisters by Michele Israel Harper, Chapter Five © 2014

Eden I by failingjune on deviantART.  http://failingjune.deviantart.com/art/Eden-I-67893877

Used with Permission.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version.  Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

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