Eva’s Judgement

Three Cheers and a Tiger ~ Bronze
Tamara Eaton


Apple Blossoms
Photo Credit: Deron Staffen

First, I cried. Next, I lifted my head to gaze at the twin pink moons hovering full on the horizon. Alone. The word resonated within my soul. The ship departed with the dawn and now I faced an eternity of emptiness. The knowledge pressed down anchoring me to this spot where I’d watched the last remnant of the failed colony levitate, boost, and rocket out of the atmosphere.

Perhaps in a year or a decade some lost or wandering ship might find this forsaken outpost, but I couldn’t make myself believe it. Not in the first moments when I looked out over the red Needles of New Plymouth rising out over the crater floor.

After what may have been hours—or was it days—I raised my body and trudged off to the village. The food stores held more than enough to sustain me for a lifetime even after the ship loaded enough for the colonists’ journey to the next galaxy. The final mercy or torture, I wasn’t sure yet.

The meeting house came into view and the sight twisted my heart. A month had passed since the Judges sentenced me. A mere thirty days, according to the Earth calendars we still used. If not for my shock, the efficient organization of the colonists would have made me proud. From the judgement day until this morning—only thirty days. They had sorted, packed, and loaded the ship in order to leave New Plymouth, now referred to as the Tainted Place, as soon as possible. All proceeded in record time because of me.

From the moment of judgement, the colonists ostracized me. I was forbidden to speak with my husband or children. Though I remained in my husband’s house, my family treated me like an unseen spirit. The baby, Ahmed, followed me around the two-room house, tugging on my skirts. He never understood why mama didn’t hold him, couldn’t comfort him. Ahmed’s cries and screams wrenched my heart and I searched my husband’s face for a hint of forgiveness, but he averted his eyes, lifted the child in his arms and turned away.

During the colony’s short existence, we lived in peace. The dream of the Pilgrims, as we called ourselves, to find a place to worship and to live according to God’s will, came to life. We lived in equanimity and built New Plymouth. One hundred fifty of us worked and worshiped in serenity bringing into existence God’s Plan. The Lord guided us to this bountiful place and saw to it we lacked for nothing. Those early days I delighted in the simple pleasures of working hard and praising my Lord.

Our ancestors once crossed an ocean to find the Promised Land, and we crossed a universe. The prayer the ancients recited asked for: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We found a New Earth, which we named New Massachusetts. Our goal was always to honor Him and build His kingdom. In five years we’d accomplished much. We lived a life filled with His glory. My family grew. Abraham arrived in the spring of year one, the first child born to the new colony, and then Ahmed made his appearance three years later.

But I neglected to pray as the old ones did, to be led from temptation. No, I, Eva Maria Johnson-Xing, never said the prayer and never asked for guidance from the Lord. This oversight caused the demise of the colony and my everlasting exile in this Tainted Land. During my trial, repeatedly the Judges and the colonists asked, “Why? Why did you not flee from the trap set before you?”

I only shook my head, lowered my eyes and let heat invade my face. The Judges refused me the cover of my veil. The colonists stared and I heard the whispers. I had nowhere to hide. The men gazed upon me with disgust, but I also caught several giving their wives sideways glances. They seemed to wonder if their wives could also be led astray. The village women, who now blamed me for the difficulties they’d encountered over the past five years, murmured remarks beneath their veils.

“She always seemed so pure, but those are always the ones to be wary of, you know.”

“The roses she planted in her backyard were the first clue.” Another nodded.

My roses? I threw her a disbelieving look. They’d never know those roses saved my life. The roses weren’t to blame. No, it was the apple trees. The sweet apple blossoms appeared last season with a scent seductive, inviting, tempting. I became powerless beneath the spell. How could I explain the lightness of my heart to these women who never breathed the sweet air? How could I explain the giggles rising when no one else observed? They called me to float on the breeze to waft across the Plains of Providence.

And I did. I floated. I danced. My soul lifted to a realm I’d never experienced before. Knowledge of things before unknown filled my mind. My head reeled, spinning with the answers to questions of this world and all the other worlds. At first, I feared insanity had invaded my being, the demons of mental illness taking me from my senses. Then I embraced the knowing. With acceptance came peace indescribable.

My husband, Jericho, noticed within a week. “You’re different. What’s happened?”

“I know not, my husband. Since the change of the season, my head is full of much awe and wonder. God has blessed me.”

He smiled. “Yes, He has blessed us all.”

Jericho’s inquiry went no further, but others began to notice, too. One day while out planting seeds in the field, Cyrus, the scribe, came to me. “Mrs. Xing, something has happened to you. What is it?”

I shook my head and pulled my veil close.

He stepped closer and bent his head to my ear. “I feel it too,” he whispered. He inhaled deeply and winked.

I gasped. “No. You’ve felt the breeze?”

“The blossoms’ scent assails my heart and mind. I can’t escape it and the knowledge fills my head with ideas I’ve never dreamed before.”

The revelation bared before me. I am not alone in this. Perhaps Cyrus and I are meant to share it with the others. The thought niggled my mind, but I pushed it away.

“Meet me in the grove at sunset,” he said and walked away.

The daystar dipped low, sending golden rays over the landscape. I’d struggled all day telling myself I dared not go. The last light sank below the horizon and the crescent moons rose. The choice stood before me. Stay within the secure walls Jericho built for us, or seek the secret knowledge hinted at in the breeze.

After laying Ahmed into his crib, before courage deserted me, I told Jericho I wanted to walk. His head, bent over the colony accounts, didn’t even rise. He nodded.

My heart sped and I raced to the grove. We had little time before someone might see us wandering together, a married woman and the scribe. Why did I go? I’ve asked myself the same question the others have asked me so many times since that evening, but no answer comes except want. I wanted more knowledge, more peace, more of this magical feeling invading my mind and spirit. The sharing might bring me more. It makes little more sense now than it did then.

“Eva.” His voice drifted on the soft wind.

The moonlight left speckled shadows in the grove. Moving through the shadows, I followed the sound with my heart.

From behind the last tree, he grasped my hand and electric sparks sizzled in the air. We spoke without words in some way not known to me before that moment. His voice appeared in my mind without my ears hearing it first and mine did the same within his mind. Our minds were joined in a knowing.

“I can’t. Jericho and my sons are too important to risk.” I removed my veil. “The Colony is too important to endanger.”

“This is more, Eva. More important than me, more important than you, Jericho, or your sons. Yes. It’s more important than the Colony. If I didn’t believe this, I wouldn’t be here. We are the fulfillment of all that has come before.”

I sought to pull my hand from his grip. “It calls us to sin, and we must fight it.”

He pulled me closer, enclosing me within his arms. “Not sin, but perhaps a new knowing. Your wanting fills me too. We must not fight it. We must choose to let it flow within us. This is our destiny.”

Need flooded me, not a need for this man, but a need for the knowledge we could share. A desire bloomed unfettered within my chest. The scent of apple blossoms enveloped us and his lips met mine. Destiny, I thought, and a blast of light exploded into tiny fragments raising us both off the ground.

What happened next—only vague remnants of memory remained afterwards. I couldn’t tell the Judges or Jericho, though I strained for days to recall. One moment Cyrus embraced me, filled my mind and body, and the next second he vanished.

I landed in my roses.

They searched for Cyrus many days, but never found him or any sign or track. They’d never have believed my story anyway, so I let them assume the most common explanation. For them it varied. One colonist swore an oath she’d seen me go to the grove that night and she said she’d heard Cyrus’s voice call my name. All true, as far as it went. She maintained I’d obviously murdered the man in a fit and done away with his body.

Within a fortnight I stood trial before the Judges and faced the colonists. The verdict didn’t surprise me. They left me in this Tainted Land, stranded for all time. I helped Jericho and the boys pack their belongings for the journey. The women and men of the Colony loaded the ship and didn’t shun my assistance with the work. Silence engulfed me. The peace I’d reached before the verdict departed. My mind churned with the injustice I faced.

Alone. The word permeated my mind. The new knowledge I possessed since the night in the grove gave a connotation to the word with all the nuances a lifetime of solitary existence would entail. I wandered the deserted village listening to the silence. No children’s laughter from the ball field, or chatting women hanging clothes out to dry. The sound of animal calls in the wilds outside the village perimeter. Nature’s abundance encircled me.

The nipping air denoted the change of seasons. The grove trees weighed down by apples called me. The summons was no less tempting than the springtime blossoms, but somehow fuller and richer than the effervescent flower perfume. I walked between the trees listening to wind whistle through the branches. A bright red orb of nature’s bounty plopped down from the bough above. I caught the fruit, polished it with my sleeve and took a bite. The crisp apple burst sweet and juicy on my tongue.

A flutter within my womb startled me. Could it be? I placed my palm against my belly and laughter bubbled from deep within. Alone? Not any longer. Life pulsed inside me along with the knowledge this new babe would be the first of a new breed of humanity filled with wisdom and understanding.

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Email: tamarae9[at]hotmail.com

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