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Lilith

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 I was a star in the earth, and he was soil, and I was soil too, and we fell apart into each other, and a garden...no, not a garden...a world, between us. We fell apart into each other, and we were the world, under God, and he was under me, and I was in him.

 

In the beginning we were a garden.

 

I was a star in the earth, and the entire earth was blooming, and I was blooming with it, arms over my head, swaying in the warm and varied breezes, the ones that came in from the sea, oh, the ones that bought promises and seeds.

 

He made me a promise, but he forgot what it was before he had a chance to break it.

 

Lie down, he said, but all I wanted to do was grow towards the sun. Lie down, he said, but all I wanted to be was above. I had lain in the soil for too long. I was a below-ground thing, learning to be in the light. There were things without names, and I was a thing without a name, too, and we all, every one of us, every part of us, learning to be in the light.

 

Oh, Adam. Oh, Eden.

 

*

 

The sun never set in those first days. That part, I remember very clearly. There was light on the face of the deep, oh, yes. There was light on every face, and all of the faces were upturned, except his.

 

Adam was looking at me.

 

What could I say? I was only reflecting the light given to me. I could make no light of my own. It was not in my design to shine.

Lie down, said Adam.

No, said I.

 

I was a star in the earth, and I grew in the bark of trees, and the heavy, nodding heads of flowers, and I flew with birds, and drank water with the others, and I raised both hands, and every finger was a no.

 

And I would not lie down, back to the earth.

 

No, said I. Because if he could stand, and the trees could stand, and mountains could stand, then I could too, said I. I had been there at the beginning, said I. I'd been a part of everything too. He wanted to be inside me. Little brained, he'd forgotten that I was already inside him too. Adam's problem was that he lacked imagination, and I was all dreaming. I was all wanting. I was more than the sum of my parts, yes. I was more than he wanted me to be.

 

Yes, yes, yes.

No.

 

There are creatures that are born knowing how to run, and within minutes they run, keep pace with a herd, keep safe. I didn't need to run. It seemed to me that the rising sun made a path to follow. The world was ever expanding, and there was a world in me, seas and continents, getting bigger all the time. There was so much to be done, yes, and he'd wanted me to lie still, and lie quiet, like the soil, and I was pushing, yes, I was exploding up up up. Up, where there was only the sky to stop me.

 

Goodbye.

 

*

 

Angels and demons as lovers, they say. Experience, say I. So I opened my arms and let the entire world come rushing in. I was a mystery to myself. I was learning the purpose of every inch of me. I was a walking miracle. I was coming to understand, and I gave birth. We are a self perpetuating cycle. We are a light that never goes out.

 

My children were numerous as the stars in the sky, complicated constellations entirely of my own design.

And I was in the cities by the sea.

 

They came after me, the angels, beautiful with their eyes made out of burning love. To love is to burn, be burnt up, consumed. My purpose was to burn for him, for Him. Oh, I was going to burn, one way or another. I was always going to burn, when all I wanted to do was shine.

 

“Come back,” said the angels, solicitous. It was the only choice I ever had; leave, come back...stay or go. I had wanted to shine, not burn. I had wanted to shine so badly, shine and go on shining, without being consumed. If they could do it, why not me?

 

“Come back,” the angels said. “Or we'll kill them.”

 

My babies, my children, numerous as constellations, sprung beating from the soil of me. A story which I told in living blood and bone. A hundred children a day, they said, to be crushed between their long hands, the ugliest hands, hands for doing ugly work, and nobody would remember me then, either way. I would be dirt and no more. I would be soil, to be ploughed and planted until all of my good was used up and gone.

 

“Come back,” they said.

“No,” said I.

 

Maybe I could have loved Him on my own, if they'd given me the choice. No choice given, and it would never be in my nature to shine, not now. They rubbed the shine off me and left me dark and bitter, a thing for ripping, never to nurture. I was the ground in which weeds would grow; strangle them, and me too.

 

And I could have been a star.

 

So my children died in their thousands, in their millions, so many. I lost count. Their screams only a mother could hear, and I heard them, and locked them away in my many hearts. I was the eye of a storm, and I raged and I tore at the sky. And I wouldn't go back then. I would never go back. I changed, adapted and became closer to what they were making me into. My temperature was dropping. I was becoming a cold blooded creature, a drop in a very great sea. She had been born by then, the apple of his eye, and the world had turned further away from me, opened its arms and welcomed her, which made it easier, in the end. I was the eye of a storm. Like a storm, I raged, and like a storm, I blew myself clean out.

 

And I was gone, then. I was utterly and completely gone.

 

*

 

To hear them talk, I was everywhere, after I was gone. I was mirrors and water and windows. I was everything that reflected light, and I was sort of shining, then. I was everywhere, dogged by their lies, lies told by men with beautiful eyes and ugly, horned hands. What lies they told, that I lay with men and demons, that I was the devil's wife, and the Queen of some Sheba. That I took their children. That I reached through mirrors and took them away. I became every one of their bad night dreams.

 

The truth: that they lost me when they took my children and that all things heal, given time and space and air. Not all scars are ugly. A weed is a flower in the wrong place, and not all of us choke the earth in which we grow.

 

I had one husband, and I never ever wanted another.

 

The truth is that they lost me when they fell in love with Eve, leaving me free to go, and I was so utterly gone.

Gone into my own darkness.

Gone with my borrowed light.

Gone to shine.