Goodnight, Eve

by Emma Ellis, http://www.colgate.edu, December 2, 2010

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A gaggle of freshman girls loitered in front of the Colgate University Bookstore beneath a streetlight. One stood staring up at it, waving her hands in front of her face. "Now it's a party," she said. "I'm making the strobe light!" The girl standing next to her smirked and opened her mouth to say something when the grumble of a white bus, emblazoned with the words 'Colgate Cruiser' whistled to a stop in front of them, its doors opening with a pneumatic, snakelike hiss.

"Is this going back up the hill?" the girl asked the driver, holding her still waving friend by the shoulder.

"Nooo! Its only..." the strobe-light fumbled with her phone "Two a.m.! The night is still young!"

"Yeah, we're leaving, though. Is this Cruiser going back up to campus?" she asked again.

"Yes," said the driver. "Are you getting on?"

"Yes, we are," she said, pulling her friend up the stairs behind her.

It was the typical Saturday night cruiser, absolutely packed with students in varying states of inebriation. A group of girls in the back was singing Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" at the top of their lungs. The girl sat her friend down in an empty seat, and then seated herself in the next row.

"Hello, Pandora. How is humanity's other scapegoat doing tonight?" asked the girl across from her. She sported a short, jagged hairstyle, heavy makeup, and a miniskirt, despite the autumn chill.

"Not bad at all, Eve. You know, with this generation, the first connotation for Pandora is an online radio station," said Pandora, with a thin smile.

"We'll see how long that lasts."

"So, how's Adam?" asked Pandora, attempting to change the subject.

Eve's raised eyebrow let Pandora know her segue wasn't as smooth as she had thought. "Domineering, as per his usual. But what could you expect from the man they made father and mother of humanity? Being constantly notified that I'm really his rib is getting quite tiresome."

"The whole 'You are the only woman born of man, and I'm that man' line again?" asked Pandora, rolling her eyes.

"That'd be the one," sighed Eve. "And Epimetheus?"

"He's fine. Still doesn't listen to advice well, especially from the woman who 'started all of his problems.' I honestly don't think of him much. It would have made things a little awkward with those guys at Beta if I had mentioned I was married."

"It must be terrible for Epimetheus, to be so associated with the woman who brought mankind old age, plague, famine, jealousy --"

"Oh, stop it Eve. You got Adam kicked out of the Garden."

"I object to that. But relax. I was only kidding. Adam and Epimetheus are like all men," said Eve. She shook out her layered locks and crossed her legs, her skirt riding up even higher. This attracted the attention of the bleary-eyed boy sitting next to Pandora's friend.

"Hey, I know you!" he said. "You got me so drunk! How come you wouldn't drink your fair share of the beer when we lost beer pong?"

"I don't know," said Eve coolly. "Why wouldn't you let me stop playing?"

"Hey," said the boy in a slurred voice. "You -- you don't have to take that voice with me! You don't know me at all!" With that, he crossed his arms and faced forward.

This little drama finally caught the attention of the girl sitting next to Eve. She looked at her, and her face went from bored to scandalized in nothing flat. "Jesus, Eve!" she cried, flinging her leaf-green Northface over Eve's lap. "Cover yourself up!"

"Pandora," said Eve unresponsively. "Have you met my roommate, Christina?"

Christina bared her teeth at Pandora in what was intended to be a smile, and went back to staring out the window. Clearly, a friend of Eve's was no friend of hers.

"Anyway," said Eve, gesturing at the offended boy. "That proves my point, really. When women get caught up in men's games, whether the game is enlightenment or 'lets-see-who-I-can-hook-up-with-tonight,' it's never the man's fault. He was trying to get me drunk, and got drunk in the process, so it's my fault. Adam wanted his share of knowledge, but got kicked out of the Garden of Eden in the process, so it must have been that I tempted him. With Epimetheus, it's even simpler. He wanted you, but you were a trap set by the gods, so when you blew up in his face, the fault could only be your own."

"I don't know, I can't help thinking -- hoping -- that there must be some that are above that," said Pandora. "I won't deny that deflection of blame isn't foremost in the minds of the men you mentioned, though."

"And the worst of them all is the big guy upstairs," said Eve.

"For me, it's big guys and girls. You've got one major problem. I have many."

Eve shrugged. "It all amounts to about the same, doesn't it? No matter how many of them there are -- and you could certainly argue that my God is just all of your gods melded into one -- their plan was simple and singular: screw humanity and blame it on a woman."

"Isn't that the truth," said Pandora. "All for their own vanity."

"Is that how you see it?" asked Eve.

"Yes. The gods like to see themselves well above humanity. When it looked like we might have gotten a little to close to their level, it hurt their pride, so they set the two of us up to tear humans back down to their place."

"You are making them seem nicer then they are," said Eve.

"What? I just said they doomed us for the sake of their own pride! Dealing with them is like dealing with these high heels at Colgate," Eve said, gesturing at her stilettos. "Its impractical to wear them, because you can't trust them to get you up and down the hill safely, but people do, because they hope it makes them look better."

Eve smiled at the analogy, glancing at her own heels. "But it's more twisted, more perverse and convoluted than that. It's especially obvious with my story. You see, God made an itsy-bitsy mistake when he made us in his own image, and then expected to control us. He got scared, so he decided to take us out. With your gods its the same."

"I really, really don't think the gods are scared of us," said Pandora flatly.

"Will you allow me to prove it to you?"

Pandora laughed. "If you want to try, go ahead."

"All right, I will. So, in your story, Prometheus was unhappy because the humans were miserable, so he stole fire from Zeus and brought it to them. Agreed?"

"Yes."

"And we both know that this fire is a symbol for knowledge, and it allowed humans to progress and be happy. Then Zeus got really mad and punished Prometheus by chaining him to a rock and having vultures attack him all day, and punished humanity by creating you." Pandora hoped that in the flickering glow of the passing streetlights Eve couldn't see her wince. "And you did exactly what they programmed you to do. It was not your fault, because they created you to be curious and mischievous and then placed the box in easy reach. Honestly, though, whether or not it was your fault is less important that the actual contents of the box. Jealousy, greed, fear, famine, old age -- the list goes on and on, doesn't it?"

"And hope." said Pandora. "Where is this going?"

"You'll see, I promise. Just keep those things in mind while we talk about my story. God created the Earth, then he created the animals, then he created Adam in his own image to lord over the Earth, and then he created me to keep Adam company. He also created the Garden of Eden for us to live in, complete with the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. He created everything, didn't he?"

"According to your story," said Pandora.

"So then, since he is the one creating everything, then he must have created that snake. And he must have created me curious and temptable, and he certainly put that tree in easy reach -- he could have put it at the ends of the Earth, but he didn't. So, inevitably, Adam and I ate from the tree, just as we were intended to. After all, we couldn't know it was wrong, because we didn't know Good and Evil at that point. God chose to ignore this, and threw us out of the garden specifically because we now had knowledge, and if we didn't die, we would be just like him."

"And?"

"What did you release into the world?"

Pandora threw up her hands. "We've been over this! Famine, greed, jealousy, disease, old age --"

"No." Eve interrupted. "You released Death into the world. And only Death."

"Excuse me?"

"Famine, greed, jealousy, disease, old age, what do all of those things have in common? They're causes of death. Once we ate the apple, or lit a fire, we became like the gods in our knowledge, which, once given the gods found they could not be taken away. They made us too much like themselves, so they placed a trap before us to limit our abilities if we ever became enlightened."

"Which was death," said Pandora, musingly. Her face was illuminated as they stopped under a streetlight, the Cruiser jolting to a halt to allow another band of students on board. "We can't reach the height of their power because we lack their perpetuity. When you got kicked out of the Garden, and I unleashed death, it ended the possibilities for human deities."

"That's right. But no one else sees it this way. So we've been saddled with original sin."

"How can you have sinned without having known right and wrong?"

"I couldn't have," said Eve. "But it doesn't matter what's right, it only matters what those guys in the funny hats think is right."

At this point, Christina had turned a delicate shade of purple. "That is so disrespectful, Eve," she spat. "I've been trying not to listen, because, clearly, you are one of God's stranger, more deluded creations, but you've gone too far! Don't you even have faith in God's existence?"

"Do you believe in your left foot?"

"What is that supposed to mean?"

"Just answer the question."

"Yes, of course I believe in my left foot, its attached to my ankle," said Christina in a stilted voice, as if she was speaking to a particularly slow toddler.

"If it permanently had a rollerblade attached to it, would you trust it? Would you have faith in it not to let you fall?"

"I guess not, no,"

"How could I not believe in God when I was tripping over him constantly in the Garden of Eden? And how could I have faith in him after he threw me out?"

"I have no idea what that is supposed to mean, Eve, but I'm going to leave, because clearly I'm not welcome!" She got up, pushed past Eve and flounced to the front of the Cruiser.

"Charmer, that one," said Pandora.

"Yeah, well, there are millions like her. There's no escaping them. That's why I keep to myself."

"That worries me, Eve," said Pandora. "We've just discussed why we're not gods, we're mortal. You're mortal. Whatever life has been given to you to live, it's the only one you have."

"I'm aware of that," said Eve snappishly. "I don't have to be happy about it."

"Wait, so mortality bothers you, but nothing else does?"

"Not so much mortality, but its effect on humanity. The gods' punishment was to curb our power by curbing our lifespans. Death isn't much of a punishment, it's just an end. I'm not sure that they realized the fear of death would have such a profound impact on us."

"Do you fear death?"

"No." said Eve, smiling cynically. "That would give God far too much satisfaction. I can't let him think he's won."

Pandora looked a Eve for a long moment. "It was worth it for you, then, wasn't it?"

The smile fell off Eve's face. "I don't like everything that humanity has become, but that doesn't mean I don't realize that it is better to be knowledgeable and unhappy than blissfully ignorant. But, given the choice again, would I eat that apple? That becomes a choice between what is right, and what is easy. Since I am human, I'm not sure I could trust myself to make a different choice, in the end. Or at that point would I see the apple as the root of all my problems, and be so repulsed that I am unable to take it?"

Pandora had been grasping a small box in her coat pocket for some time now. She took it out of her pocket now and rubbed her thumb across its engraved lid as she spoke. "Here's to hoping you could."

To that, Eve said nothing. The Cruiser came to a stop in front of Persson Hall and Pandora stood. "This is my stop," she said. "Good night, Eve." She grabbed her friend's hand and pulled her off the bus with her.

Eve sat motionless for a few moments, then her eyes fell on the small box resting on Pandora's seat. "Wait, Pandora!" she called. "You left your --" But the Cruiser doors had shut and it had begun to roll up towards Frank Dining Hall. Eve sighed and took the box into her hand, tracing the patterns carved on its lid with a finger.

The Cruiser halted once again. Eve stood, her feet aching from the unnatural position her high heels had trapped them in. She took the stupid shoes off and glanced down again at Pandora's box. She tucked it into her pocket, and stepped off.

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