lb_lee: A pencil sketch of me drawing/writing in my sketchpad. (art)
[personal profile] lb_lee
Hi, everybody!  This story was inspired and sponsored by katz of Mammoth, who wanted a story about the Biblical Lilith.  Happy writeathon, everybody!

Where Angels Fear to Tread


The angels found her at the shore of the Red Sea.

“You have to come back, you know,” one said. “It’s God’s will.”

“No,” Lilith said, “it’s Adam’s will.”

“God sent us to bring you back,” the other angel said, “so it’s God’s will too.  Don’t be stubborn.”

“God created me from the same earth as Adam,” Lilith insisted. “God created me as myself, and that includes my stubbornness.  Why would He create me improperly?”

“Look, we don’t question the Ineffable Creator,” the first angel said. “We just obey.”

“That’s not for me,” Lilith said. “Thanks all the same.”

“If you refuse to return,” the second angel warned, “God told us to tell you that a hundred of your children will die every day.”

Lilith laughed. “And who would I bear them with?  Adam?  Now begone, before I use the Ineffable Name on you.”

As the angels left her, one called over its shoulder, “Adam will not be pleased.”

“I’m sure he’ll get over it,” Lilith said, and began to walk the seashore.  She wanted to see the Red Sea.


For the next century or so, Lilith explored the earth.  She saw the windswept dunes of what would become the Sahara and swam in what would be later named the Mediterranean Sea.  She scaled the steep not-yet-Himalayan Mountains and slept on the great plains of proto-Botswana.  She studied God’s craft in the veins of leaves and the bones of animals.  Her hair grew wild and coarse, her skin tough and lined.  She was lonely, but happy.

Somewhere around the hundred-year mark, Lilith was surprised to meet another human being—a man who resembled Adam so much she automatically called out his name.

“No, I’m Cain,” the man said. “Adam is my father.  But who are you?”

Lilith tried to explain, but didn’t need to.

“My old man’s first wife?  He’s told me all about you!”

“After all this time?”

“He never shut up about you.  He claimed you’ve got three breasts and the lower half of a snake.” Cain tilted his head at Lilith’s weather-beaten body. “I’m a little disappointed, to be honest.  I expected someone far less ordinary.”

“I’m glad to hear he’s moved on with his life,” Lilith said dryly. “But who is your mother, and why aren’t you in Eden?”

“Oh, they got thrown out long before I came along.  I’ve never seen Eden; is it as beautiful as they say?”

“Well, it is beautiful,” Lilith said, “but all of God’s creations are beautiful.  He has made so many wonders that honestly, I hadn’t thought of Eden in ages.”

“Huh,” Cain said. “The way the old man went on about it, you’d think it was heaven on earth.”

“Heaven is what you make of it,” Lilith said, “and your father sounds like he’s still a little prone to exaggeration.”

“A bit.  He claimed you tempted him to defile himself at night and that you murdered little children.”

“How absurd!” Lilith declared. “I’ve long left Eden, and I never had any children to die.” Then she remembered what the angels had told her, that she could never have children, and with a pang in her chest, she hastily changed the subject. “Where are your parents, anyway?”

Cain laughed uncomfortably. “Er.  I’m not sure.  I’ve been… cursed.  Doomed to wander and never die.” He looked away. “I’d really rather not talk about it right now.  Suffice to say, I won’t be seeing home again any time soon.”

Lilith felt sorry for Cain.  She’d barely lasted a day as Adam’s helpmate; she couldn’t imagine having him as a father.

“I wander too,” she said, “though it’s from choice, not curse.  Come join me; with you, it’ll be like looking at everything anew.”

So she and Cain wandered the earth together.  She showed him the mountains and the deserts and the forests and the plains, the sea and the stars.  He taught her the cultivation and care of plants.  Of course, eventually they found out about each other’s respective curses, but neither was in much position to judge.  Cain could never sleep through the night; Lilith would often wake up to find him pacing circles around her, muttering and weeping from the compulsion to move and wander.  She never mentioned it, anymore than he mentioned the times she wept for the family she could never have.

They were cursed, and sometimes they were sad, but together, they were happy.

Unlike Lilith, Cain grew bent and weary from his constant cursed wandering.  He was not one of the firstborn; he was a son of man, not a son of the earth, capable of illness and infirmity.  When his hair had gone white and his bones had gone brittle, he admitted to Lilith that he wished he could die.

So Lilith stroked his hair, and she told him, “Cain, you’re a son to me.”

And Cain, who could never rest, who could never sleep in the same place twice, smiled. “I have always wanted to be someone’s favored child,” he said.

That night, Cain fell into a deep sleep, the first time he’d ever slept the night through since Lilith met him.  He never woke from it, and died peacefully, having finally attained the rest he ached for.

Lilith buried him under the plants he so adored, and she wept, and she thanked God for giving her a son.  Then she went to wander again, to find the next marvel awaiting her.

Date: 2014-06-11 11:37 pm (UTC)
ext_12246: (Default)
From: [identity profile] thnidu.livejournal.com
Oh, my, beautiful! To boost.

Date: 2014-06-12 03:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lb-lee.livejournal.com
I'm glad you liked it! My Biblical knowledge is scattershot at best, but Lilith and Cain were just too good to pass up.

--Rogan

Date: 2014-06-12 01:56 am (UTC)

Date: 2014-06-12 03:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] browngirl.livejournal.com
This is beautiful and true and full of true beauty. *applauds*

Date: 2014-06-12 03:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lb-lee.livejournal.com
Thank you! And here I was worried I was writing blasphemy.

--Rogan

Date: 2014-06-12 11:44 pm (UTC)
gingicat: drawing of me based on wedding photo (Default)
From: [personal profile] gingicat
Wonderful.

Date: 2014-06-13 04:49 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Thanks for this! I wanted to ask about Lilith because I know you do Hebrew mythology.
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