“Lost in Paradise” by Jean-Luc Bouchard

Image by Frank Eugene / "Adam and Eve," 1910

And God said, “Let there be light.”

Which surprised me, since I know God gets migraines too.

And God said, “Let there be man and woman and let them fool around as they see fit. While I watch. From everywhere.”

And Adam and Eve fooled around as they saw fit, which was often, since the garden largely took care of itself and there was little in the way of cable TV to distract them. And after many, many months of making love, and of copying the positions of the animals they watched in the garden, and of inventing some creative ones of their own involving a bowl of low-fat cottage cheese and a bar stool, a snake entered the equation.

Spoketh the snake to Eve: “I know it’s a stretch, but try to take a wild guess what I represent.”

“I’m not much of an apple person,” said Eve, scrunching her nose, “but if you’re ever interested in grabbing a coffee and bagel, let me know.”

Adam bent closer to the snake and covered his mouth with his hand. “I’ll be in those bushes over there between noon and two,” he whispered. “Ya know, in case you wanted to stop by or something.”

Eve crossed her arms and turned toward the heavens. “Would it have been so hard,” she said, “to send us a star-nosed mole as well?”

Thus began the holy love triangle between man, woman, and snake. But within three weeks, the snake—exhausted and in terrible need of a shower—taped a breakup note onto Adam and Eve’s fridge and left the garden forever, scouring the wastelands for the nearest jacuzzi. Adam followed in close pursuit, dragging Eve behind him. And God, who’d recently discovered his old Nintendo 64 in a shoebox tucked away in the hall closet and hadn’t been paying attention for a while, was shocked to find his only pair of humans leaving paradise.

Spoketh God to Adam and Eve: “Whoa, whoa, where do you two think you’re going?”

“Don’t ask me,” Eve said, pointing at Adam. “Ask the cry baby over here.”

“Well, what do you expect me to do?” Adam whimpered, wiping some snot on his sleeve. “Just forget he ever existed?”

“You need to find a way to distract yourself,” God said. “Go have some kids and make a family. I’m sure I could kill a few hours watching that.”

And lo, ditching the holy birth control, Adam and Eve settled into the wastelands and proceeded to make a family: an eldest son, Cain; a youngest son, Abel; and a daughter, Gertrude. And they built a house with a little garden and a sunroom, along with a few empty neighboring houses so that they might have someone to stay in competition with. And Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel and Gertrude lived modest, hard-working lives for several years. When they reached adulthood, Cain became a crop farmer, Abel a shepherd, and Gertrude a microbiologist. Cain and Abel, subsidized by the government, made a small fortune each and built their extended families mansions in the Berkshires. Gertrude, unable to secure stable employment, was forced to work as a lecturer at a polytech, much to God’s disapproval; she would be smited come midterms.

But since all good things must come to an end, Adam and Eve’s holy union slowly became fraught with tension and passive aggressive dishwashing. After one too many Thanksgiving Day biscuit-versus-cornbread fights, the first man and woman decided to see the first marriage counselor.

The counselor—an impossibly tall bearded man in a glowing alabaster robe wearing a fake mustache—took one look at the couple and asked for the payment up-front. “So,” he said, after counting the bills, “trouble in paradise?”

“You could say that again,” Eve said.

Adam nodded. “We’ve hit a bit of a rough patch, doc.”

“We’re spending less and less time together,” Eve said. “We don’t garden like we used to. I’m trying to make this work, but frankly, he just doesn’t seem to care anymore.”

“I care! Of course I care. We just have different priorities.”

“The problem is that you always put your priorities above mine, Adam. I was perfectly happy skinny dipping all day, but you made us leave Eden. I gave up my life for you!”

“Yeah? Well I gave up my rib for you!”

Eve rolled her eyes. “We get it already with the rib! You want a medal or something?”

The marriage counselor raised a palm for silence. “I think I can see the problem,” he said. “What you two need is a vacation, to relax and just have some fun. I knowyou should take a second honeymoon! Go somewhere nice and live it up a little.”

Muttereth Eve to no one in particular: “When did we have a first honeymoon?”

But a second honeymoon they took, not wanting to incur the wrath of the marriage counselor. With Cain promising to keep an eye on Abel while they were gone, Adam and Eve set out in their Chevy for worlds unexplored. They drove for hours playing “I Spy,” pulling into the first hotel they could find after 300 consecutive correct answers of “a rock.”

Searching for the ice machine while Eve unpacked, Adam heard a commotion down the hall. He turned the corner and noticed a very familiar figure trying to buy an apple juice from the vending machine with incorrect change. The snake cursed and turned to leave, catching Adam’s eye mid-slither.

“Oh no,” the snake said, covering his eyes with his tail. “You again?”

Adam tried leaning against the wall nonchalantly and almost fell down. “It’s been a long time,” he said, straightening his shirt. “You look well. Are you working out or something?”

The snake turned his head toward the heavens. “And you call me the Prince of Darkness?” he asked.

Meanwhile, Eve—left alone in the honeymoon suite—was flipping through the local Yellow Pages looking for listings under “star-nosed mole.”



Jean-Luc Bouchard is a writer living in New York City whose work has appeared in PANK, apt, Vice, NANO Fiction, BuzzFeed, Specter, Umbrella Factory, and other journals. He is the winner of Epiphany Magazine’s 2016 “Writers Under 30” contest, and his short story “Arm in Arm, March On” was the second-place winner of One Throne Magazine’s “Joust” Story Contest for 2014. He was also a finalist for the Speculative Literature Foundation’s 2015 Working Class Writers Grant. His work can be found at jeanlucbouchard.com, and he can be followed @jlucbouchard on Twitter.