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Eve (Adam's Memoir)

Eve (Adam's Memoir)

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Eve (Adam's Memoir)

Lunghezza:
211 pagine
3 ore
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Feb 16, 2014
ISBN:
9781311494054
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

Rejecting Milton's theological vision of Paradise Lost, Ken Kaye takes only one Biblical assertion literally: that Adam lived 930 years. His "memoir" is both a love story--assuming that Eve's life was almost as long, and every bit as productive--and a fantastic account of the mental and social life of Homo sapiens if four million years of evolution were compressed into those nine centuries. A lot can happen in forty generations or so..

Editore:
Pubblicato:
Feb 16, 2014
ISBN:
9781311494054
Formato:
Libro

Informazioni sull'autore

Ken Kaye is a veteran journalist, having worked as a reporter, editor, columnist and blogger for the Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale. This is his third published novel, with the others being The East Side of Lauderdale and Final Revenge. He lives in Weston, Florida.

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Anteprima del libro

Eve (Adam's Memoir) - Ken Kaye

Eve

(Adam’s memoir, translated by Ken Kaye)

eBook edition published at Smashwords. ISBN 9781311494054

Copyright 2014 by Ken Kaye

Original print edition © 2009 by Ken Kaye

Table of Contents

Because I couldn’t bring myself to scrape the flesh from her bones

Laughter

Life was work, all of a sudden

The sun just now reached my lambskin jacket

Half a morning’s hike from the oak forest where we all lived

I blame myself

Here were these three women with about fourteen kids

Only a little over a hundred years went by

No, I don’t think it had a thing to do with the business

Funny, what comes back to me

Squatting in the dust in our laboratory compound

I vomited

The air up here is free of dust

I worried about what kind of reception we’d get

Yes, there was a time when I thought maybe I’d live forever

When I stopped doing research

About the author

for Eve

1

Because I couldn’t bring myself to scrape the flesh from her bones, I carried all of her. I’ve had the stench of death about me for a month, day and night. Who’d have thought there was anything about her that could sicken me? Anger me, yes. Infuriate, humiliate, depress me; irritate me to distraction. But she never sickened me until now. Close to puking a couple of times along the way, I almost settled for another burial place. (What difference would it have made? As if you, putrid sack of bones, could know I’ve brought you all the way back to the hidden lake that meant so much to you. No, it matters to none but me, and soon not to me, as the meaning of our grave will vanish into it.) Yet I clambered on with my disgusting treasure, shaking my head at the folly of man and the power of woman even in death.

I’ve eaten nothing, couldn’t have kept anything down while that stench choked the air; so now, having arrived here at last, I lack strength to dig the pit or haul the stones. I must rest and eat something, if only to recover enough strength to exhaust myself and starve again, once and for all. In the meantime I dare not sleep deeply, indeed I can hardly sleep at all, for the jackals smell your stink and prowl close by, waiting for the fire to go down. Or perhaps yours is not the carrion smell that attracts them. Are they already on the scent of fresher meat: mine?

How ridiculous, this impulse to bury our dead, let alone this weird determination that has brought me hundreds of miles to do it in the thickly forested mountains of our origin, following the salmon who batter themselves mortally just to spawn in the remotest pools where they, too, began. No other creature buries its own kind. Some bury food, some feces; but all leave their cadavers—if not eaten alive—to the rain, the sun, to scavengers. Dogs, vultures, fish, and smaller organisms feed upon them. There are insects that lay their eggs in dead birds, the eggs hatch and somehow consume feathers, flesh, and all, leaving nothing but the bleaching skeleton. Those same bugs and worms feast on our dead, buried under however deep a pit or how high a mound. Dig up a loved one after a month, and the worms have made off with every recognizable feature. After a year, there’s nothing left but hollow bones and dust. I always said it would make more sense to hack up the dead and use them for fish bait; get some payback. Or go ahead and heave them into a pit (downwind, please), but what’s the point of wasting a mound of stones on them? Those same stones could be usefully employed to form the wall of a shelter. As they will be, eventually, as soon as those who remember whose grave it is are gone. So the labor’s wasted, and wasted again when the laborers die and their children recycle those ancestors’ stones for new graves, perhaps several times, until eventually the living find use for them in a hearth, house or barn that will last for centuries. The effort would be better invested in building shelter for the living in the first place.

How you’d have chastised me for that sort of idle, cynical speculation! You had no patience for my questioning moods. You were at peace with the impulses that drive us to such rituals. This bizarre need I felt to bring you here to say goodbye, to bury you, to merge with you in death, wouldn’t surprise you. You would grasp implicitly the impulse that won’t let me live without you: these invisible forces, unfathomable, more mysterious than the greatest marvels of the natural world. As I lie here on this bank, arguably the most scientific man on earth, the wisest and apparently the oldest, I cannot pretend to understand those bonds between and within us any better than a toddler does.

This place has hardly changed in the two hundred years since I tracked you down here and made you come back to me. You were right: it constantly renews itself. All the old trees have been replaced by their descendants, nothing stands in precisely the same place, the cliffs are altered by a rockslide here and a new path worn by the mountain goats there. The streams in and out of the lake have altered their course many times; yet it is all, all the same paradise we knew. Bathing just now, it took me back, not to that second sojourn here but to the earliest time, at the dawn of memory, when we used to splash in and out of the water all day and hump on the mossy banks. How long has it been since anyone had time to play like that, in the real world? Still, here in the profusion of touch-me-nots and ground cherries, the full pantry of edible roots and stalks, rich music of the warblers and the spruce scented breeze (ignoring the taint of your putrefying flesh beneath me), with the distant constant rush of three waterfalls from the surrounding peaks, here life would be truly close to what we knew in those early days.

Perhaps I should have stayed with you here, as you wanted, when we had our second chance. I came to take you back to civilization, I said, not to share your hermitage. And you made no protest. You must have been ready, no doubt waiting for me to find you, those two hundred (was it almost three hundred?) years of our separation. You also knew full well that, once here, I could not remain. I tried it awhile; stayed a few years with you that time, but I needed other people, you were not enough for me, as we’d both learned centuries before. I couldn’t bear not knowing how things were turning out; I’d spent too long watching and commenting on the passing pageant of mankind. By that time, the world had forgotten me—indeed, had practically banished us perpetually ancient ones, repelled as much by our long memories as by our long beards—and then, in resurrecting me, had created a public self for me that I hardly recognized. Yet I couldn’t forget the world. I could never stop observing, analyzing, interpreting; nor stop pushing the botany and zoology of my youth toward ever deeper mysteries.

Here was beauty, peace, majesty. But those were things I had internalized; I had made nature my own. Here was also love, such as it had devolved by that time (mainly into resigned acceptance of each other’s bad habits and the reassuring presence of one another in the dark). There was no sex, but I’d stopped needing that. What I needed was Man, the great conundrum, the ultimate puzzle, the frustration I would never pacify. So we went back down. Yet here we are once more, making a last rendezvous in paradise (but now we’re dead and dying, this getaway only a foolish conceit of mine). The third time, they say, is a charm.

How did you spend your days, all those years you lived here alone? Did you think much about the rest of us, or about me and our time together? Did you live only in the present, only in your solitary retreat? Were you in touch with higher truths? Or lost in remote thoughts of youth, memories you left behind when we were driven out centuries earlier? It must have been hard not to let your thoughts keep drifting back to that time, to the dawn of memory.

Right about there, on the opposite shore, I saw you for the first time. I see you there now: as clear as my dreams, as sharp as any memory I have, as vivid as your death. The cliffs were more rugged, the forest not so dense as now. Standing knee-deep in the water and staring down into it, from time to time you’d worry the surface with your fingers, teasing the minnows or perhaps experimenting with your own image in the lake, as I myself had often done. I spied on you silently. There was no question in my mind what this animal was. I had been looking for another man, expecting to find my match as other creatures did, and this was surely it. Different, of course, from anything I could have anticipated, but that was only a momentary surprise. I hadn’t thought to speculate on what my female counterpart would look like, but if I had, I might have imagined something like this. It was less angular, less muscular than I, and only shoulder high. What I couldn’t have imagined was the furless copper skin, a nakedness without precedent among soft-skinned creatures. Almost all its hair was on its head: great tumbling bundles of it, reddish brown like sandy clay, in oily clumps that caught the sun’s reflection off the water and sent it shimmering back. I remember thinking that being a female, it might have cubs nearby, for I had no way of knowing its age. I was a man already—I don’t remember ever being a boy—but this was a mere girl. (Later I figured you must have been around ten or twelve.) The patch between its legs was a few straggly hairs, that’s all; the breasts a couple of pert bumps (those same breasts that soon filled out like melons, swelled with each pregnancy, mimicking your belly, then deflated gradually, dangling lower and lower as the centuries passed; yet they stank in death as if the last few drops of their milk had been souring inside for eight hundred years).

I was elated because I thought it must belong to a group. Perhaps I’d finally found my way back to whatever lair or nest or colony I belonged to. I had already learned a great deal about other creatures, their life cycles and habitats, and notwithstanding amnesia about my origin, I’d deduced that some female of my own species must have given birth to me, that there had to be others like me somewhere and that sooner or later we would cross each other’s path. Several times, in fact, I had crossed my own path and wishfully mistaken it for the trail of fellow man. But if there were others, male or female, I never found them; and the puzzling fact continues to transcend all my understanding of biology, that every human I’ve ever encountered, anywhere in the world, has turned out to be descended from that one female. From you.

At length I shouted: something like the caw of a crow, I think, shattering the music of water, breeze, and songbirds, and startling the brave new creature so that it cried out too. A rather intelligent remark under the circumstances, it said something like Eek! Long before we found it worthwhile to invent real words, that exchange was our first conversation:

Caw!

Eek!

What happened next was even more remarkable: it turned tail, splashed ashore and scampered away into the woods. I’d seen animals flee and hide from predators, never from one of their own kind. I supposed it was going to alert the rest of its herd, who would be as glad to reunite with me as I with them. I certainly had no fear, for I’d experienced no enemy, no danger from any creature, no hardships whatsoever. Not knowing yet that I could swim, I proceeded around the rim of the lake, keeping in sight the spot where I’d seen the human, in case it reappeared or another reappeared there at its call.

When I reached the spot, there was no one; only wet traces leading into the forest and soon disappearing. I went ahead, cawing and producing other sounds that came to mind, occasionally trying an imitation Eek! But there was no answering call, and no sign of my fellow man. I don’t think I felt in any hurry. This one encounter was enough—if I needed any proof—to assure me that other men existed. Having found one, I would find others; or that same one again. But I was puzzled and vexed at its flight.

Several days passed before the next sighting. Whether from bad luck or because you hid well (I soon suspected the latter), I stalked high and low with no result. When we did finally meet again, it was you who found me. Lounging under a plantain, eating a fruit, I suddenly felt the presence of another being; I looked over both shoulders, saw nothing, looked up the hill in front of me, and there was the same creature about a hundred yards away, watching me silently. I wondered what to do: approach, stay where I was, make one of those silly calls? We stared at each other until you lowered your eyes and started away. I stood up and rushed after you, intending not to lose sight of you longer than a few seconds behind the crest of the hill; but when I reached the top, you had vanished. I scanned the whole meadow, far beyond the distance you could have covered in that short time, as though I believed you might have possessed some sort of magic, like the wood sprites of modern legend.

I was angry. I hadn’t been dreaming or hallucinating; this was a flesh-and-bones human (this now rotting flesh, these very bones), and it was deliberately avoiding me. You forced me to hunt you down.

Back then, I knew next to nothing about hunting. I had observed the carnivores; but their prey never teased them, as you were teasing me. Besides, it was you who were pursuing me, though you’d later deny it. We must have covered twenty miles together, you making your presence known just often enough, at a safe distance, to challenge and infuriate me. Once, you blatantly laughed at me when I stumbled, scrambling across a stream. It was a sound whose likes I had never heard; nor could I imitate it at first, though later it came naturally. An extraordinary, full-throated trill, which made my fury begin to melt and your game begin to captivate me.

That was when I realized you were outwitting me. My superior size and faster speed were doing me no good so long as I allowed you to control the conditions, places, and times of our encounters. I’d have to trick you to come closer, drop your guard. How naive you were, for all your cleverness and stealth! I circled around to a cave I knew, taking two or three days so as not to make any sudden change in my pattern. It was a tiny cave, hardly more than a gouge under an overhanging rock, but dark enough so that from outside it looked like it might go deeper. By pressing myself against the wall, I could disappear inside. I stayed there for an hour at a time, then longer, piquing your curiosity, coming out only to gather berries and leafy cabbages near the entrance. Then I spent the night there, waiting until the sun was well up before I stepped out, hawking noisily and stretching.

It was too much for you, of course. (I wonder how I could have known you so well, then; and so much less well, later.) It was a perfect strategy. I made enough noise so I was sure you saw me, I relieved myself outside the cave, and then as I turned to go back inside, I pretended to trip over a protruding root. I groaned as I hit the ground. I lay still for a minute, then dragged myself to my knees, clutching my ankle, and crawled into the cave. Then

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