Imagine this: in Eden there is a field of flowers, far as the eye can see. First, the unyielding wildflowers, though they blush gentle even in the morning sun, and then the delicate roses in shades of pearl and mulberry and flaxen. Finally, in the far distance, a single line of sunflowers, proud and hungry, turning their faces toward the stark sun. They grow wild and untended, almost as if waiting for someone to take shaky steps through them again, to rediscover this garden of eternity.
Today something in the air is different. A whisper carries on the wind, a whisper of something new in the garden, some change since the banishment. The current is present in every living thing—in the rustling of the trees and the buzzing of the bees, in the babbling of the brook and the ripening of the fruit.
There is movement, at one end of the garden (if this garden does indeed have an end), and the soil finds itself sinking, pressed beneath the weight of a foot. The breeze that ripples suddenly through the air seems almost like a gasp.
Sabrina’s movement had not gone unnoticed—her little tumble had her elbow and tailbone bumping hard on the floor, and now muted footfalls were coming up the stairs in response. They sounded oddly reassuring, a reminder of the years of mornings she’d spent in this house, with those familiar steps moving towards her every morning to make sure she was on time for school.
“Sabrina, darling, are you awake?”
That voice too, the same old lilting accent, the same way she rolled the “r” in Sabrina’s name, everything as she remembered it. Which made it all the more abjectly wrong, in this dusty and broken room, a mockery of her childhood.
The feet stopped at the door. “I thought I heard something upstairs. Whatever are you doing on the floor, silly?” Her tone was casual, laughing a little at the child she could not understand. It should have been comforting, but the voice froze Sabrina to her core, fused her body in place.
A pair of legs came into view, stepping over the debris scattered on the floor as though they were the toys Adam and Ilyes used to leave lying around once they’d grown bored. Hands gripped Sabrina’s shoulders in a painfully tight grip, lifting her weight up and into a sitting position on the bed. A heaving sigh. “Look, you’ve gotten your nightgown all dirty.”
Finally Sabrina found herself capable of movement, and chanced a look up into her mother’s face. It was as she’d always remembered—smooth, cool skin, the ice-blue eyes, the rouged cheeks, the perfect lipstick.
Her mother looked up, catching her in the act of staring. She smiled, lips stretching impossibly wide to reveal two rows of beautiful teeth. “What’s wrong?”
Everything, Sabrina wanted to scream. Every fucking thing was wrong.