Summer burned bright, hot to the touch, when the second Adam finally saw Paradise.
Like all other days, this day’s dew cooled in curling leaves, bright ants crawled into new made hills, and a lion sang in the distant deep. He didn’t notice how the ever-friendly sun bloomed slowly into a stunned glare. Instead, while his mouth still dripped red juice from his illicit breakfast, Adam leered at his wife, pale and naked.
“Are you cold, my dear?”
She turned toward him slowly. “I don’t know.”
He looked past her, still hungry, into the fading cool, now oddly vacant. Viscous heat built where only gracious light had danced; the whole created world inhaled sharply and held its breath. Then he understood. For the first time, they were alone.
All around them, the world began to shrivel in corruption: sun-washed leaves darkened with viral shadow, silver fish turned gray, rolled over, and floated, the green plain folded into caverns of covert dark. Out of one of these crawled the freshly prostrate serpent. Slow and silky, it glided an approach to the last fearless rodent, surrounded it in a taut coil, and flexed its muscle. The trapped creature screamed until strangulation silenced it and Adam’s bile rose with alien bitterness. He retched in convulsions that bowed him down before the murderer and he watched the damned reptile unhinge its jaw to consume gluttony’s bloody victory and to mark the genesis of its own defiled reign.
“What is death?” asked his shivering wife, “Where is pain?”
Adam shut his clouding eyes, unable to erase his first nightmare. Reeling in horror, he fell and lay on cursed ground, tasting salt, and learning not to weep.
The angel once told him that it took Lucifer a whole day and night to fall from heaven. It had been summer then, too.