Cain wished his brother would simply give him space. Even whilst they bathed in the running water that ran closest to Eden, Abel still had to do so in close proximity to Cain. Just because they were twins, it did not mean that they had to spend every waking moment together- at least that was how Cain felt.
“You know brother, the fruits were all ripe for the picking this season,” Abel chirped. “I gathered more than enough for The Offering, as well as enough for all of us to enjoy.”
“That’s wonderful brother,” Cain said dryly as he dipped his body into the cool water. “Truly it is.”
“Where did you find that bull?” Abel asked.
That seemed to the be the question of the day: Where did the bull come from?
“I told you already,” Cain said, hoping that his brother would just leave it alone.
“Never seen a bull like that,” Abel continued. “At least not around these parts.”
“Well you are not a hunter,” Cain snapped. God, why did Abel always have to question everything?
“That maybe true brother,” Abel said evenly. “But father is questioning it too. He is even considering not including the bull for The Offering-“
“What?!” Cain roared, splashing over to his brother. “What do you mean he is considering not offering the bull?”
Abel shrugged. “He doesn’t trust it and doesn’t want to risk offering it only for us to be cursed again.”
Cain froze. Icy rage trickled through his veins, stopping and restarting his heart. He glared at his twin, suddenly wishing that he had never been born. Since birth he had to compete with simpleton brother for simple words of praise. Since birth it seemed as if he would be condemned to be the “Son That Adam Never Wanted”.
“I’m leaving,” Cain heard himself announce to his brother. “I cannot do this anymore.”
Abel’s brows raised high on his head. “What?”
“I’m leaving. Everything I do isn’t good enough. Adam –“
“Father,” Abel corrected, holding Cain’s gaze.
“Adam,” Cain continued. “Hates me.”
“No he doesn’t,” Abel protested.
Cain shook his head and turned around, headed towards the grass. Abel reached out and gripped his shoulder, holding him in place.
“Just tell me where you found the bull-“
Cain angrily snatched away from his brother. He shoved him hard without thinking. “That’s all everyone seems to worry about is where I found the bull! No one seems to appreciate its value or the fact that-“
“Cain!” Adam’s hard glare greeting them from the grass. Eve was spotted in the distance, running towards them, screaming Adam’s name. Luluwa was not too far behind, with baby Aklia in her arms.
This was it. Cain’s fury became redirected at his father. The cold hard stare from Adam was enough to make his blood boil. Abel sensed the dangerous turn in his brother’s mood and tried to hold him back. Adam awaited, his fists clenched, jawline tight and prepared for whatever Cain was willing to deliver.
“Adam!” Eve shouted. “Stop it! Just let him offer the bull! There is nothing wrong with it! He deserves a chance!”
“Why do you hate me so?” Cain challenged as he dragged his brother from the water to face off with is father. “Why? Abel and I shared the same womb, yet you treat me as if I am no of your blood!”
Adam’s lip trembled as the cold hard truth spilled from his lips. “You are not of my blood, Cain.”
“What do you mean I am not of your blood?” Cain seethed.
“Adam!” Eve shouted.
“War. Hatred. Those things are not of me,” Adam stated blandly, meeting Cain’s eyes. “From the time of your birth, it was obvious that you took more from your brother than you gave. He was smaller, while you grew stronger-“
“I have done nothing but protect not just my brother,” Cain growled, “But this family. I have provided nothing but the best of meat. Risked my own life for this family!”
“And even so, every action taken has been for yourself,” Adam continued.
“That is why your Offerings were rejected. It had nothing to do with the quality of the animal. It has always been offered with selfish intentions which is why Abel’s always brought blessings upon this family.”
Abel slowly released his hold on his brother. Eve reached out to Cain with open arms to try to bring comfort, but Adam held out his arm to block her. Slow awareness crept into Cain’s psyche. Adam did not consider him his blood. Abel would always be the favored son. Adam made it a point to strip away everything from him, and as his eyes met the saddened expression of Luluwa, one thing became clear: Adam took from him because he rejected him as his blood. Blood must be paid for in blood. Cain looked at his brother, whose eyes held instant fear. Everything seemed to happen in slow motion. Eve screamed. Luluwa covered her mouth and Adam simply could not move fast enough to stop the inevitable. Hurt. Despair. Anger. All of that consumed and fueled Cain as he stepped forward and delivered a punch to his brother’s head with the brute force of hammer.
Something snapped. Blood oozed from Abel’s nose and fell to the ground. Cain watched as his brother’s lifeless eyes stared back at him. Eve’s screams drowned out the darkening sky.
“What have you done?” Adam whispered as grief took hold of him.
Dark clouds formed against the once serene blue sky, and lightning struck as the ground cried out from its first taste of spilled blood. Blood … so much of it he could drink it, smell it … bask in it. Darkness … he was surrounded in darkness … his parent’s grief. His brother—what had he done? Nausea and pain like no other claimed him and consumed him in a burning fire that sent him to his knees.
“What have you done?”
The booming voice from the sky startled him. It was He Who Made Adam, The Creator.
“Cain, what have you done? The earth cries out to me that the blood of your brother was spilled by your hand. You know not of what thine cast upon thyself …”
Falling to his knees, Cain looked at his fallen brother. The once green grass that surrounded him had turned black as his brother’s blood was absorbed into the earth. Cain felt the flesh of his forehead burning with an inscription or mark that would permanently follow him for all eternity. He gingerly touched his forehead where he felt the raised and raw skin of the brand that would forever haunt him with the memory of this moment.
“They will know you by thine thy mark …” The Creator told him before retreating back into the heavens.
With trembling palms, Cain stood up long after The Creator left to face a moonless sky. Adam’s voice echoed in the backdrop of his mind. But something else happened. The mark that was placed on his forehead melted away, as something, a dark power filled his veins. Like magma, this dark force oozed its way through his veins until it reached his heart, melting away what felt like his humanity. “You are not my son!” He heard Adam shout. Thunder. Lightening. The earth began to tremble beneath him. A pair of soft hands held onto him. He heard Adam shouting at Luluwa to stay back but she did not. She held on.
Still screaming, he forced himself onto his feet again, as his throat burned with an unquenchable thirst. Adam’s fists founded against his back, but Cain forced himself away and took off into the darkness. A fire in his aching belly craved that which that did not grow from the land or fall from the skies. He ran until he found himself secluded and surrounded by a family of trees that seemed to extend an endless reach into the heavens. Here he would beg for forgiveness. Sobbing, he cried out, “I have been foresakened!” The sky had blackened with angry dark clouds, an expression from Mother Nature herself that she too was displeased with his actions. “All I have done! And this is how I am repaid!”
He had no awareness of time when he slipped into unconsciousness. But during those moments, he dreamed of nothing but blood. Rivers of blood. Oceans of blood. The sky rained blood. He came to eventually, still surrounded in total darkness. He sat up quickly, noticing the changes in body. He could see things with a deeper clarity, like the wood of the tree. He could see the very distinct definition and structure of the bark. The fly that landed on the leave of the adjacent branch-he could see that too, even the translucent design of its wings. And then it dawned on him: he was now an outcast. A man without a family. Without a home. His thoughts returned to the very moment he killed his brother. He lost control. He would forever mourn the death of Abel. But now he knew that humans, as they were, could perish. He’d never known that fact until now.
Another question soon plagued him as he paced to and fro’ in the forest. What would happen to his sister Luluwa? Would Adam punish her for her affections displayed towards him? She did not deserve the harshness of their father’s punishments, not ever. Suddenly fear for what would befall Luluwa unnerved him. He could surely kill Adam, but to do so, would incur the wrath of the One On High.
But there was still time…