The day the rift occurred is a stain on my memory. That day when death came into the world and the hot horror of shame overtook us still haunts me.

A blade cut through my heart after it happened, especially when I looked into Adam’s eyes and I saw a slow-growing darkness. I found out later what it is called.

Rage.

And when the Creator spoke to us, I explained that I’d heard the thoughts, the words of the snake—which wasn’t all that unusual since both Adam and I had a sense of what the animals were saying to each other. Not in the same language we spoke but in a whisper-reflection of it.

I looked to Adam for his support, for his help, but he stepped backward.

Faltered. Blamed me for everything.

And all that had been pure and right between us crumbled.

I knew I would never trust him again, not like I had, and I could see by the look on his face that he had already stopped trusting me.

So much pain.

And I thought, If death is to come, let it come! I desire it!

But in a wicked twist of fate, the Creator let us live.

I wish he had not.

And when my sons came, despite the pain, the terrible pain of their birth, I had a sense of hope. A daring seed of belief that life would go on, that the past could be redeemed by the birth of something new.

They looked like their father. I hadn’t known it would be like that.

***

When I awoke this morning, a tumult of clouds was roiling on the horizon. They would do this sometimes, chase us, then descend and surround us with a gray mist.

But the breath of the clouds’ damp wind hadn’t found us yet. The air was staid and still and sharp with the heat of the awakening day.

At the morning meal Abel announced that he was going to make an offering to God. Adam, Cain, and I listened quietly.

“An offering,” I said.

“Yes. A gift.”

“What gift could you possibly give God?”

Adam eyed me, trying to let his look rebuke me, but I didn’t let it.

“One of my lambs,” Abel said.

“How will you give your lamb to God?” Cain asked.

 “I will burn it and let the smoke rise to heaven like a fragrance.”

The scent of death as a gift?

“God is a spirit, Abel,” I told him. “He does not need your dead

sheep.”

“He gives us all we have,” he replied. “Everything. But what do we give him? He gives us the sun, the air, the earth, the food we eat.” He smiled in his innocent way, his naive way, and I wished I could feel that sense of trust in the Creator, that pure thanksgiving, unclouded with regrets or shame. “I want to thank him.”

“Then thank him by the way you live.” I was done with this conversation. “Don’t thank him by killing. Death is a curse, not a gift.”

He was quiet.

“Let’s just eat,” I said, but almost immediately Adam contravened what I’d said.

“Go on,” he told Abel. “Give God your offering. Who knows, he may be honored by it and bless us.”

I felt anger twist me. Had I told Abel to go to the fields and make his offering, I could only guess that Adam would have told him to stay back. That’s the way it was between us.

Cain cleared his throat slightly. “I’m going to give God an offering too.” He didn’t keep animals but gathered from the field, and I wondered what kind of offering he would give, but before I could respond, Abel nodded to him. “Good. We’ll go together.”

Adam was not a man to stop people from acting. He’d said nothing to me when I took the fruit, even though he was standing right beside me. And now, as our sons left, he said nothing.