Biographical Sketch

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          Janice LaQuiere



The Other Side of Eden

By Janice LaQuiere

The sun blazed through the foggy mist, turning the afternoon vapor into a hot bath of steam. Enowsh bent over his stone pick and thrust it into the black soil. A stream of sweat trickled down his cheek and ran through the hairs of his long white beard. His back ached from the constant labor. He straightened and stared at the growth of weeds that sprang up overnight and threatened to choke his tender plants. If they died so would he. He took a gulp of air but it did nothing to calm the raging inside. Anger churned against his ribs like the mighty dragon in the midst of the deep. Would the work never end? He bent his body forward.

"Old man."  

The familiar cry aggravated Enowsh. He turned his back toward the group of people that paused along the road. 

"Come, join in our dance." A tall man stood at the edge of the garden and flexed a supple willow branch before letting it lash out at a sunning cat. The cat screeched and darted into the tall grass. 

"Be gone with you, Bashan. I have no part in such foolishness." Enowsh struck the dirt with his pick and tore through a clump of weeds. A cloud of insects rose around him.  

"Enowsh knows only to work," a woman whined. "Leave him be. If he comes he'll only scare the children." 

"Enowsh takes good care of his property, but he will sell it to me. Come with us, Enowsh. We will not hurt you. A little rest will do you good at your age."  

Enowsh picked up a stone and hurled it at the other man.  

The man's laughter resonated through the fog. "We willl be back, Enowsh." He tucked his mistress in his arm and hurried her down the path.

Vibrant music carried on the air. Enowsh drowned out the sound of their revelry with his own thoughts. He was tired of being the brunt of their jokes, of watching the children cower from his presence scared by the legends whispered in their ears. Enowsh wiped his brow. His memories of the days when he sat in the city gate ruling as their beloved elder mocked him. They no longer brought him their gifts of wine and fruit. Now, he only possessed this small bit of ground and a shack near the edge of the forest, both of which he must fight to keep. 

Enowsh slammed his pick into the ground and belted a sound from the depths of his loins. His groan reverberated across the landscape and testified to the madness that claimed him. He cursed the day of his creation and his Maker. Almost of their own accord, his eyes sought the glimmer in the west. Bursts of rays, from a distant spray of light, spread across the horizon and darted into the clouds, like streams of fire which flashed from yellow to orange to blue. The townsfolk called it the Mystic Wonder. Only Enowsh knew the glory it possessed. In a fit of rage, he shook his fist at it.


 Night settled like a heavy blanket over the country. Enowsh slept alone in his thatch-roofed hut. The din of the drunken city stirred his conscience and deepened his misery. Through the edges of his sleep he heard the brush of a serpent slither across the fibers above him. The sound played with his senses and roused him out of his troubled slumber. He bent his head toward the soft noise. It drew closer. He slashed his arm at it in the darkness. " Come and kill me, you coward. I'm Man. Are you afraid of me? Afraid I'll rip off your head? You man slayer. You, who killed my wife with your venom." A sob choked him.

 "Listen." A drunken voice cried out from the street, "Enowsh speaks to himself."

 "Perhaps the old man has words of wisdom," another scoffed.

 Enowsh wrapped his robe around him and stepped to the doorway. "Be gone. I'll not have you around."

 "The old man threatens us. How dare he?"

 Enowsh stood unafraid. His taut muscles attested to his strength. The breeze played lightly across his bronze skin. In the torchlight, a crowd gathered. He smelled the stench of alcohol as it drifted on the air.

 Bashan stepped forward. His tall body towered above the others. "They say the old man murdered his wife."

 A murmur traveled through the crowd.

 "We can't have a murderer amongst us."

 "Go home and get drunk." Enowsh gripped his stick. A snake's rattle buzzed above the hum of the mob. A tingle crept up his spine. He watched the serpent glide from beneath the eaves and he swung his stick at the shadowy movement. The serpent slithered beyond reach.

 Bile rose in Enowsh's throat and a bitter taste coated his tongue. A shriek welled up in his chest and shook the air. "Leave me alone!"

 "Enowsh is mad." Bashan stepped closer. "Come, let us put an end to Enowsh."

 Sticks cracked together, mingling with shouts of hatred. "Down with Enowsh. To the death." Stones catapulted through the darkness.

 A crack echoed in Enowsh's ears and a ripple of sharp pain vibrated through his being. He stumbled backwards into the black hut, hearing only the screams of the people and the snake's rattle like the clacking of old bones, his old bones. He fell to the floor. Fangs pierced the flesh of his hand and his palm throbbed. "No." His voice cut through the confusion. Men began to tear apart the entrance of his home. The smell of smoke burned his nostrils and a tongue of fire lapped across the roof. Enowsh heaved his body forward and through a gap in the back wall. The tainted air rested heavy against his skin. He gasped for breath. Oh, if only he could pray.  In vain, he searched for words but his spirit shrunk within him. He crawled forward into the safety of the vegetation. If they found him they would kill him.

 From afar, like the sound of a mighty storm, the Holy Wind gathered strength and swirled through the treetops of the forest and over the long grasses of the plain. Fear swept over Enowsh, he flattened himself against the ground and steeled himself against the mighty gust. The clattering of voices erupted in panic and quickly dissipated.


Enowsh propped himself up on his arm and stared across the lush greenery of the valley below. His long journey brought him here, to this rock ledge in the heart of his ancient land. The prisms of light flashed closer, creating a spectrum of colors off the morning haze. He stared toward the south and his gaze rested on a grove of oak trees which sheltered the burial cave of his wife. A sigh escaped him. The longing for her grew with each passing day. She alone understood the burdens he carried. In his dreams, he still smelled her presence, like the scent of a field of new morning flowers. Again, he saw her, as he first saw her—a queen full of beauty in a garden of color. She outshone it all. The agony of his loss was a constant dull ache in his bones. He clutched his side. A part of him lay buried with her. He would spend his final days near her grave, until the deep blackness overtook him.

Enowsh listened. In the swiftness of the approaching Wind, the tree leaves rustled like a garment moving toward him. He gripped the rock ledge and turned his back toward the Holy Wind as a blast of air hit him and swept past him toward the houses in the valley. Enowsh stood rooted, his faced pressed against the cold stone. His heart hardened and he refused to turn his head and follow the path the Wind cut through the trees. Let the Wind go about its business and leave him alone.

A low steady hiss yanked his attention toward his cave. He glanced down. His gaze followed the serpentine furrows etched in the dirt, until he caught sight of the mammoth creature sunning himself in the heat of the rock. Their gaze met. Back and forth the serpent's tongue flicked, tasting the air. It taunted Enowsh.

Enowsh shifted restlessly and turned toward the oaks below. He watched the rush of the Holy Wind become a gentle breeze that moved slowly through the trees. Envy crept into his soul. So the rumors were true. God still walked with a man. God. His God. Enowsh's fist hit the slab with a crack that sent the serpent scurrying into the darkness. His wife lay dead. His son murdered. Where had the Creator of the universe been then? Wrath erupted in his throat like an acid.


The sweet smell of roasting corn blended with the smoke from the open fire. Enowsh sat forward and stared into the flames.  A distant haunting melody floated to him across the night air, followed by the tread of footsteps. He leapt to his feet and stole into the shadows. No friend would come to visit him, which left only an enemy.

The young man entered the firelight and eyed the simple necessities of Enowsh's life. He looked up. "Ah, there you are." With a quick movement he stepped forward and bowed low in front of Enowsh. "You are the ancient. The man. Adam."

 A violent shudder shook Enowsh. Adam. He hadn't heard the name since it was last uttered by his dying wife. His name was Enowsh, because he understood the curse of mortality. Yet this stranger seemed to know him. He pulled back his shoulders. "That may be."

"I am Enoch."

Enowsh started. The man known to walk with God. A jealous rage ripped through him like a knife and he raised his staff to strike the visitor. Enoch's gaze met him and reflected unbridled compassion. Enowsh slowly lowered his arm and bent his head. "I have killed you too, my son. Though I did not strike you dead, I surely have killed you as if I had." He lowered himself to the ground. "Sit down, my son. Tell me about your family."

Enoch curled his legs under him and his face glowed. "I wish to tell you about my God."

"I'd rather not hear it."

Kneeling on his knees, Enoch leaned into the light. "You were so intimate with Him. You must know He loves you."

"My son, do you not understand the wickedness of rebellion, or the holiness of righteousness? Have you been to the entrance of Eden? Can you not see the glow of the flaming sword flashing against the sky? They remind me every moment of my rebellion. God will have nothing to do with me, and I'll have nothing to do with Him."

"But you were in fellowship with Him."

Enowsh rammed the stick into the fire, sending sparks scattering. His fury rekindled. "I was in perfect fellowship with Him. Don't you think I know it? But no more."

"Adam, it's not too late. Put aside your rebellion and repent. I've brought a lamb for the sacrifice. Make—"

With a sudden jerk, Enowsh jabbed the burning stick at Enoch. "Go away. Leave me alone. I don't want to see you again."

Memories tormented Enowsh as he stared into the depths of the dwindling fire. He cursed Enoch, and then turned his face toward the brilliant flames at the entrance to the Garden of Eden. The loneliness ached even the marrow of his bones. If Enoch only spoke the truth, and God could take him back and call him His again. But of course, Enoch never would understand the chasm that separated him from God. Enowsh's lip quivered. To acknowledge his sin, repent, and to submit. Even in the early days he would never submit. At times, the struggle inside nearly tore him apart. But oh, to again experience the presence of God.

The sharp bleating of the lamb broke the stillness. Enowsh whirled around and spotted the serpent, coiled and ready to strike the beast of the field. He crashed his stick across the mottled back of the reptile. The snake darted. His body lunged at Enowsh. Enowsh side-stepped the threat and heard the creature's body whip the dirt into a cloud of dust.

Enowsh's ragged breathing heaved for air. He could never kill the serpent. Not all alone. Enoch was right. He must make a sin offering and beg God's forgiveness. Never again would he let his spirit rebel. If God would just keep him alive.

The serpent pitched his body toward the innocent lamb.

In one motion, Enowsh bridged the gap and scooped up the little creature. The snake struck. His fangs sunk into Enowsh's foot.

Enowsh swung the lamb to his shoulders, and kicked the snake's dusty underbelly until the serpent released his grasp and sped away. It was only a matter of time before the serpent returned. He would not give up so easily.

With deep urgency, Enowsh shoved together stones for the altar. He placed the lamb on the ground and thrust his knife through the new wool, piercing into the young skin. The cry of the animal echoed off the rocks. A sharp hiss vibrated against Enowsh's nerves. The serpent slithered into view. His beady eyes glowed red and droplets of venom hung from his fangs.

Enowsh laid the lamb on the wood. His arms grew clammy as he felt the dry skin of the reptile creep up his leg and twist around his torso. He jabbed a burning stick to light the sacrifice.

The smooth rattles trailed across his foot.

Gray smoke curled out from the burning wood like a tiny thread. The smell of singed wool and roasting meat rose into the air.

The snake constricted around Enowsh's chest and the pressure threatened to suffocate him. He fell backwards, rolling across the cylindrical body. With a twist of his hands, he gripped the serpent's neck and thrust it from him, his body writhing to pull himself free from the serpent's grasp. Tiny eyes stared out from the large flat head, and the sharp hiss mocked him.

"Oh God." Enowsh forced his breath out. "Save me."

From across the heavens a low rumble rent the atmosphere. Enowsh jerked his head toward the sacrifice. He gasped. Blood ran down the sides of the altar, and the vision he beheld stripped him of his thoughts. In the midst of a mob, a man hung against a rough wooden cross. People stamped and demanded the death of one named "Jesus". With a start, Enowsh gazed into the condemned man's eyes. A chill swelled his veins. He stared past the torn flesh and recognized his God. The man lifted His head and His shout echoed through time. "It is finished!"

Enowsh screamed, the burden of guilt piercing his soul. What had they done to Him? Why had He let them kill Him? The God of all the universe.

The snake lunged at Enowsh's neck and ripped into his shoulder. Fight ebbed out of Enowsh and his muscles went limp. How could he have been so vile to have killed God's son? "Oh Lord," he whispered. "I have sinned. Forgive me, if You will."

With a mighty noise the Holy Wind swept down from on high. The serpent's body stiffened and with a violent tremble he slipped into the night. Enowsh shifted his face and breathed in the scent of the Holy Wind's Life.

"Adam," a voice called in the cool of the evening. "Where are you?" 

Adam wept. "Here I am, Lord."


Enoch raised his head and stared toward the cave where they had laid Adam's body.

A young boy ran up to Enoch and placed his tiny hand in Enoch's large one. "Adam died an old man, didn't he?"

Enoch nodded. "Adam was indeed very old."

"But he was our father, right? The father of our people."

"Yes, he was the father of many."

The boy stopped, and lifted his face to Enoch's. "Who was Adam's father?"

Enoch smiled and ran his long fingers through the boy's hair. "Adam's father is God."

©Janice LaQuiere 2005