The evening wound down in the camp, slowly, like a story ending. The children settled down in a circle around the fire, from the littlest tots to the oldest teens, and most of their mums and dads. The entire camp usually turned out for story night. It had been this way for many years now. Talula couldn’t remember how long. But generations of men had come and gone since they’d lost all knowing of things, and they had progressed so much more this last time. They’d invented so many wonderful working machines, they’d found ways to feed thousands of hungry people, they’d figured out the cures to so many awful diseases, yet here they were again in another dark age.
“We’s longin’ to hear a story, Taloo,” one of the grown-ups called from the back of the group.
“Yeah, tell us a story please. Been a whole week of days since last time,” the children cried.
“Well now, what’ll it be tonight? Should I tell of them great soaring silver birds what carried men through the air and into the stars?” Talula’s blue eyes sparkled bright in the firelight, bright with all the stories she knew.
“No, no,” one little girl responded, “we wants to hear the story about what happened to the glory shine.” And all the children chimed in, “Yeah, the glory shine.”
After some moments of teasing, listing a number of other stories she might rather tell, Talula agreed to tell them all the oldest story she knew.
“The days of the glory shine, them was the days. Days of light and beauty. The first peoples were full of it. A male and his female, and they shone so bright they didn’t know they was in their bare skins. The maker man gave them a garden to live in and it was wonderful to behold. They had all the food and companionship they could want or need, includin’ all the creatures and green things the maker man had made, ’cause they could all talk. The animals told the most fantastic stories of things called castles and streets, the trees and plants whispered lovely verses to them, and even the breezes sang beautiful songs.
But there was the borderlands out on the fringes of their livin’ place. And they longed to explore ‘em. But the maker man had told ‘em not to. They was safe in the garden, it was where they was meant to be. They was made for it, and it was made for them. But they had a longin’ they couldn’t explain for somethin’ bigger, somethin’ better.
So together they takes the garden path out to the hinterlands and stands gazin’. Gazin’ at the lands that spread on forever beyond ‘em. And they sees a tree, a magnificent tree. It was greener and bigger and more beautiful than any tree in their small garden. And it had the most wondrous, plump lookin’ fruit that was pinkish, red-orange like the glorious sunset. And the scent of it that came to ‘em on the gentle breezes was like nothin’ they’d ever smelled before.
So the two of ‘em wandered out into the borderland and stopped at that beautiful tree, and the female reached up to touch the lovely fruit. And the smell of it was so sweet and fragrant, she was mesmerized by it. And there was a creature nearby, a most wondrous creature to behold. It was a tremendous, dark serpent dragon, taller than the trees, more beautiful in its colors than any creature in the garden. It had a long neck and a glorious head with shiny black eyes, and its whole body gleamed and shimmered with many colors, deep blue and green and black and purple, with silver flashes that glimmered when it moved. And the creature spoke to the woman in its deep rumbly voice, but gently, and it told her she should try the fruit ‘cause it was good.
So the woman bit into the luscious fruit, and the flesh was tender, and it burst in her mouth with a sweet juiciness like no other fruit before. The woman was so whelmed with the flavor, she handed it to the man with her to taste. He takes the fruit too, and the taste is more wonderful than he could ever imagine, but he’s looking at the woman. And all of a sudden, he sees her bareness, her raw skin is exposed. Her glory shine is fadin’, and she sees that his is too, and they’s all at once embarrassed.
The two of ‘em runs back to the garden, to the trees and bushes so’s to hide. Then the man makes some skirts for ‘em to cover themselves from the big leaves nearby. And now the trees and the bushes, all the green things are silent. They ain’t speakin’ no more.
Then the male and the female hear the voice of the maker man as he’s comin’ through the garden. He’s callin’ out to ‘em by their glory names, ‘Where are you, Ahdham? Where are you Evahay? What have you done?’ ‘Course he already knows.
Then the male speaks up and says, ‘I hid because I was afraid.’
The maker man asks him why he’s afraid. And the man, Ahdham, says, ‘Because I was naked.’
Then the maker man asks him, ‘Who told you were naked? Did you leave your garden haven and venture into the borderland and eat the fruits I told you not to?’
And then the male blames it on the female and, the female, she blames it on the serpent dragon creature. So the maker man turns toward the borderland and calls the serpent to him. And he cursed that beautiful creature to slither on its belly for the rest of all time.
Then the maker man turned to Ahdham and told him that because of what he’d done, the ground itself, and the air around him, and all the green things and the creatures was cursed for all time. Now all livin’ things would struggle for life, and he, Adham, would work with his strength, and toil with his back and his hands to get sustenance from the earth.
And the female, Evahay, would have great pains in the birthin’ of children to populate the earth with, and them pains would bring her near to death. In the end all creatures would lose the glory shine and eventually die because of what they both had done. Then the maker man takes one of the animal creatures and slays it. He kills it to make skins for Adham and Evahay, and then the animals stop telling their fantastic stories. They don’t ever speak to the man and woman again ‘cause they brought death on the creatures and the land.
And all of us, we’s all still dyin’ ‘cause men ain’t figured it out yet. They ain’t learned we weren’t meant for this world. We was meant for something more, but we wasn’t meant to take it by violence. We was meant to grow into it, to change and become. To learn from the world we was born into and let the rest happen natural, like a butterfly comin’ out of it’s cocoon.”
Talula stopped talking then. The children looked up at her as she sat staring into the dark starry night, smoothing the littlest one’s hair. The flickering glow of the fire softened her features, and a sigh of awe escaped the group as a pair of gossamer wings opened behind Talula.