Monday, September 16, 2013

Eve's Other Children (short story) by Leanne Dyck

This short story was inspired by Icelandic folklore.

photo by bdyck

Eve's Other Children

God told Adam and Eve, “Cats have kittens, sheep have lambs, cows have calves, dogs have puppies and you shall have children—lots and lots of children. Go forth and multiply.”
Eve dug her big toe into the soft, black soil. This is a very weird first date. I mean, I’ve just met the guy and God’s already talking about having babies with him. It’s not like he’s the only guy in the whole… Well, I guess he is. It’s him or nothing. And besides, he is kind of cute. The least I can do is get to know him.
So Eve started dating Adam and they got along. They got along so well, in fact, that they fell in love.
“Ten—ten’s a good number,” Eve told Adam. “Let’s have ten children.”
“I’m a good provider.” Adam said. “Let’s have twelve.”
Eve giggled. “Or twenty.”
First came Cain, then Abel, but they didn’t stop there. The family grew and grew. Looking down from heaven, God smiled on all of them. He wanted to meet the children. So, one Monday, He phoned Eve. “I’ll be there tomorrow. We’ll have lunch. I’m looking forward to it.”
“Oh, so am I.” HE’S COMING TO VISIT US. TOMORROW! Eve surveyed her surroundings and winced. Books, toys, dust—clutter of every kind. “The whole place is a total mess.” Freaking out, she raced around mindlessly. “I have to dust, vacuum, clean the bathroom, and…”
“I’ll help you, Mom,” Mary said.
“Oh, dear girl, I don’t know what I would do without you.”
Mere hours before His arrival, Eve surveyed her progress. Homemade vegetable soup simmered on the stove. Hand polished hardwood floors glimmered in the sunlight. “Every thing looks— The kids!” There was hair to wash and bodies to dress.
Most of the children understood the importance of the visit. They stood obediently in line as she fussed over them. If only all of my children would behave. The others joked, laughed and disregarded her scolding. “Hush, children. You must quieten down and co-operate. God will be arriving at noon. We must be ready.”
            “Sure, whatever, Ma,” they said, laughing at her stress.
Ryan even argued with her. “Don’t you see? It doesn’t matter to Him what we wear. He doesn’t care if we brush our hair. He sees us; He knows what we look like.”
Eve felt equally stubborn. “It does so matter. It’s important to look our best—out of respect.”
“Blah, blah, blah. Who’s that?”         

She looked out the window and saw God cresting the hill. This can’t beThey’re not ready. She looked at the clock on the kitchen wall—eleven-thirty AM. He’s early!
            Half of her children wore pretty dresses and carefully ironed pants. They made her feel so proud. Her other children’s wind tousled hair and mud caked clothes made her heart crumble. He can’t. He simply can’t see them. He’ll think I don’t care. He’ll judge me an unfit mother. But what am I going to do? Thinking fast, she told the wild ones. “Quick children run out into the woods and play.”
            “But I thought you said we had to meet this God guy?” Ryan asked.
            “I won’t let anyone see you—not when you look like that.”
            Not believing their luck, they scampered off into the woods. As they left they stuck their tongues out—taunting their prim and proper siblings. “We get to play. We get to play. We get to play.”     
            The obedient children began to complain. “Why do we have to…? How come they get to…?” Eve glared at them and they fell silent.
            Knock, knock, knock. Eve swung open the door and, sure enough, found God standing there. She threw her arms around Him in greeting. As coached, her children bowed and curtseyed.
            “If you, please, Mr. God, sir, we would like to entertain you with a song,” Cain said.
            God nodded and the humble cottage filled with music. The song ended and God clapped his hands enthusiastically. “Your voices are so sweet. It’s like listening to the angels. Gather around, children, I’d like to tell you a story.” He cradled the youngest on his lap; the rest sat in a circle around Him. “In the beginning was nothing. So, I thought, hey, why not shine some light on things. I did—and thought, not bad.”
            As He spoke, Eve ladled soup into her finest dinnerware. She waited patiently until He was finished and then called them for lunch.
            God sat at the head of the table, slurping his soup until the bowl was empty. “That was delicious, Eve.”
            She ran to the stove, retrieved the pot and brought it to the table. “Would you like more?”
            “Yes, please.” God held his bowl up for Eve to fill.
            “Me too, Mamma,” the youngest said and God chuckled.
            After lunch, the children bowed and curtseyed—excusing themselves. God and Eve sat alone at the table talking. “Eve you’re doing a fine job. Your children are delightful.”
            Eve glowed with pride.
            God drummed his fingers on the table. “But, I’m not sure…”
            “Did I meet all of your children?”
            Eve froze—recalling tousled hair, muddy clothes and irreverent attitudes.
            “Eve?” God rested his hands palms down on the table, leaned in and stared at Eve. “I asked you a question. Did I meet all of your children?”
            Oh, no he’s on to me. What am I going to do—now?
Play dumb. Yeah, that always works. She slowly nodded her head.
            Eve looked into her coffee mug and mumbled. “Yes, of course, you did.”
            “Oh, Eve. You’re forgetting whom you’re talking to. I’m God. There’s nothing I don’t see. Nothing. I see the birds in the sky, the ants on the ground and I see some of your children playing in the woods.”
            “Oh, them. Well…um…well.”
            “Why did you lie to me?”
            “I didn’t…I didn’t mean to… I tried. I tried so hard. Adam’s never home. From the minute I got off the phone with you, I worked. I got down on my hands and knees to scrub every inch of this floor. I picked, washed and chopped every vegetable in that soup you enjoyed. When you were cresting the hill, I was still working. Those bratty kids, they just won’t co-operate. I tried to explain how important You are. They laughed at me. Ryan even argued with me. You won’t believe what I have to contend with. I just couldn’t deal with them any longer—not today, not with you coming. You came all this way; I know how busy you are. It’s just my back was against the wall and I didn’t know what else to do. You can come back. You’ll meet them then. No harm was done.”
            “Yes, Eve. Harm was done. You hid your children from me. You lied to me. I can’t abide dishonesty. You know that. You’ll never learn unless I take a firm hand. And so, the sins of the mother are visited upon the children.”
            “No. What are you saying? What are you going to do? You can’t…“
            “Sorry, Eve, but I must take a stand. You banished your children to the woods and that is where they will remain. You didn’t want me to see them and so no one will—not you or Adam or your other children. They shall become Huldufolk.”

Eve's Other Children was published in the Icelandic Connection magazine
'Icelandic Connection is a quarterly magazine celebrating the cultural heritage of people of Icelandic decent in North America.' -from the Icelandic Connection website