This eerie and yet familiar short story by author Jamey Bradbury responds to the challenging passage of 1 Timothy 2:11-15.
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1 Timothy 2:11–15
11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. 12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. 15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.
As meaty and controversial as the verses I chose are, I kept finding myself drawn to the middle sentence: "And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression." The middle part of this passage takes us all the way back to Genesis and the Garden of Eden, and that crucial moment where Eve winds up having history's most notorious fruit snack. This, of course, gets her tossed right out of the garden, along with Adam. I kept coming back to the concept of deception--who was deceived and who wasn't--and transgression, and the idea of working with a limited amount of knowledge.
Then, while on a run one day, it occurred to me: What if the deception wasn't a transgression, but an awakening? In Genesis, Adam and Eve are awakened to many things once they defy God's orders--they see they're naked for the first time, they experience shame. Like a lot of women, I feel like Eve gets a pretty raw deal--blamed for the sinfulness of all mankind. In my version of the Eden story, I thought, I'd try and give her a little redemption.
This summer, I was lucky enough to spend two weeks in Southeast Alaska in the Baranof Wilderness on an artist's residency. The Baranof Wilderness is its own kind of Eden--a place so lush and fertile that the minute you leave a footprint, the woods instantly seem to go to work re-wilding themselves and covering up your tracks. This would be the Eden for my Adam and Eve, I decided--a mossy island seemingly in the middle of nowhere.
Finally, real life wormed its way into the story as I considered the relationship between Eve and Adam--the first one in Eden, put there before his mate, and therefore at least slightly more knowledgeable than her, or so he can claim. Adam's advantage is that Eve doesn't know anything before him, and that's the perfect set up for a gaslighting situation. I started thinking about the ways we're seeing men try to control women as more news comes out around movements like #MeToo, and pretty soon I had a toxic relationship between history's first couple that only ends when my Eve realizes that to make a better world for her own children, she's going to have to destroy the only world she's ever known.
Jamey Bradbury is the author of The Wild Inside (William Morrow, 2018). Her short fiction has appeared in Black Warrior Review, Zone 3, and sou'wester. She lives in Anchorage, Alaska, and works for an Alaska Native social services agency. You can learn more at jameybradbury.com.