We start with a girl named Eve.
On the outside, nothing seemed out of the norm. She was seated under the old oak tree that was frequented by most of the village children (herself included), a book on her lap with legs folded and comfortably nestled underneath the puffy skirt of her dress. The shade offered by the leaves protected her from the harsh rays that accompanied the noon sunshine, while the sturdy trunk allowed her to lean back and relax without the worry of sore or aching muscles. It was seemingly just another average afternoon in the life of an ordinary little girl.
Seemingly. As always, adults passed her by without a second glance. Every now and then one might have called out to give her a wave or offer her a treat, but, as with any other day, they usually just left her to her own devices. Little Eve with the big imagination, sitting underneath the old oak tree to play with her imaginary friends. Nothing was out of place, but that was probably because the older villagers refused to look just a little bit closer, blinded by their own worries to ever consider the things that boggled the mind of a child.
Who would second look, after all, something that could be taken at face value? Children were honest, children were frank, and children didn’t lie and were good-natured by heart. Why would Little Eve be any different? Nothing about her shouted for attention, and other than her odd obsession with the old oak tree, there was nothing worth mentioning about her.
Then, here comes a boy named Adam.
With a hand on his mother’s hip, the young boy follows the dirt road path he knows by heart to make it back home. In his mind is the pan of freshly baked cookies resting on the kitchen table, practically waiting for him to devour them piece-by-piece. Along with this is the promise to play outside after lunch. He couldn’t wait to meet up with his friends.
An adventurous afternoon was something that Adam had planned. Running through the fields in search for treasure as scavengers (something that, maybe, had been dropped by the old farmer from that morning’s harvest), swimming in the river like buccaneers from The Flying Dutchman, maybe they’d even stop by the pastry shop and see if they could trick the kind old lady into giving them some candy. He was excited for the day ahead, and he would have been tugging his mother by the hand, forcing her to walk faster, had he not spotted that old oak tree.
There was something off about it; he knew this despite nothing particularly standing out as strange. He came to a halt, hand sliding from his mother’s skirt as he stared. Little Eve underneath the old oak tree, he heard the adults say that a lot. The only child who didn’t run in the streets, the girl with the calm smile that greeted everyone in such a doll-like way that made her appear dainty. He saw her everyday on his way home. On some days, he’d even called out to her to offer her a sweet from his bag of pasties. She’d never accepted, but she’d always give him that smile—that smile that he never did like.
Adam knew that his mother was calling for him to follow her, but he ignored her and decided to make his way towards the doll-like Eve. He could feel the older woman roll her eyes and sigh, but she let him be and left him as she muttered to herself. Adam couldn’t quite catch what his mother was whispering, but he didn’t really care at the moment. Instead, he was curious. Really, there was something not right with the scene in front of him.
Upon closer inspection, he froze. Her skin was pale, and though he hadn’t really been good friends with the mysterious Eve, he had an inkling that complexion was never supposed to be that paper shade of white. Stepping closer, he saw more. The slowly fading red of a hand mark on her cheek, the small scratches that littered her arms and knees. Her dress was torn in places that it probably shouldn’t have been, and her hair was messy and thin.
The oddest thing about it though, in Adam’s opinion, was Little Eve’s expression. She sat there like a broken marionette, deathly pale with dark hair, but he had never seen her more peaceful. That small smile plastered on her face was nothing like the strained ones she had offered all the other villagers. It was sincere, almost freeing. How was it possible? Beaten and destroyed as she physically looked, this was still the happiest that Adam had ever seen her.
He took another step closer.
An outstretched hand made contact with Little Eve’s forehead. Adam sighed. He didn’t know what he was expecting, exactly, but he was in no way shocked to find that the pale white skin that had startled him was also ice cold.
A girl ignored underneath an old oak tree. What people saw? A small smile, a gentle nature, a peaceful child. What people hadn’t realized? A small smile to hide the pain inflicted upon her, a meek nature stemming from the years of neglect, and a frightened child too scared to make mistakes due to having known the most severe of consequences. Little Eve so misunderstood.
Little Eve the tragic poet. Her death the forsaken poem.
A boy who saw more than what was there, a boy who got curious and took a closer look. A boy who decided that it was impossible for Little Eve to be exactly what she presented to be. The boy who decided that her smile was too strained and her position too peaceful. Young Adam who understood. Young Adam the reader. You.
There is great loss to be experienced when refusing to fully understand and comprehend what is presented. Little Eve is gone and lost, no longer physically able to live her life and make her dreams come true. No longer able to make her thoughts known to those around her.
But then there is Adam, whose mind she will always invade. Whose heart she will forever reside in. It is through him that Little Eve has left a legacy to be shared.