This story is by Kristin Martiniello and was part of our 2021 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Eve bent to pick the golden fruit. Its skin was delicate and she handled it carefully. Bringing it to her nose, she inhaled the light, sweet aroma. Adam named it pear and it was one of her favorites in Eden. She picked two more, one for her husband and one for their Creator. She smiled, the skin around her lips and eyes pulling tight. She loved eating with God. The garden He entrusted to their care was magnificent. Stunning. A wonder. But it paled in comparison to the simple act of sitting at His feet. Of eating with Him. Walking with Him.
She twirled raising her forearms and elbows as high as possible without dropping the fruit. A gentle breeze brushed over her bare skin as the wind rustled the leaves and animals chittered and sang in time to her dance.
“What succulent fruit, lady.”
Eve turned toward the voice smiling blindingly.
“Serpent!” she called in delight. “How does this splendid day find you?”
The snake’s iridescent emerald coils tightened on his branch as he leaned towards Eve. “I am well, child of God. Are you preparing for the evening meal? The fruit you hold are delicious indeed, but I can’t help but notice the ones on this tree,” the serpent said gesturing with his tail to the trees in the absolute middle of the garden, “are more succulent still.”
Eve lowered her eyes and stared at the twin trees from below her lashes. Longing clenched her heart, but she shook herself and looked away.
“God said we were not to eat of the tree of life or the tree of knowledge of good and evil.”
“God does not wish to embarrass you!” the serpent chuckled.
“What do you mean?” Eve asked tilting her head. “What is embarrassed?”
The serpent hissed. After a long moment he said in a tone full of suppressed impatience; “It is what you would be if you knew you were naked before God.”
“Naked?” The wrinkles in Eve’s forehead deepened and she frowned at the serpent.
“Without clothes.” The snake tilted his head at Eve’s body. “Naked.”
“What are clothes?”
“Things worn to protect and cover the body.”
Eve chuckled. “Why would I need to cover my body? What a ridiculous notion.”
“Because it is shameful!”
“Poor serpent. If it were shameful God would have given Adam and me these clothes. If God does not find it shameful why should I?”
The serpent sighed. “It is because you know so little that you do not understand. You offend God but because it is unintentional and He is merciful He says nothing of your shame.”
Eve’s eyes widened. She frowned as she looked down at the fruit nestled against her skin. Naked. She mouthed the word tasting it. She was naked and that was shameful? Was she shameful before God? The thought soured her stomach. She glanced at the trees again.
“God said we were not to eat of them or we would die,” she said slowly. “That is why He forbids them.”
“Nay, surely not! He does not mean literal death but that you would die of embarrassment.” The serpent’s voice lowered, becoming seductive, almost hypnotic. “God knows that if you were to eat of the fruit of that tree you would become like God knowing of good and evil. Surely it is better to know so that you may avoid embarrassing yourself and God?”
“Be… like… God?” Eve whispered staring longingly at the luscious red fruit hanging feet away. When had she gotten so close? She realized her hand was stretching out towards the fruit and she startled, jerking away.
“Why do you hesitate, child?”
“God. He will be angry.”
“No, child,” the snake soothed. “He only wished to avoid embarrassing you. You will not die. Look, the fruit is sweet and good to eat. It will taste better than any other in this garden, you’ll see. When you eat of it, you can bring more back for Adam and for God. You can eat it together and you’ll be His equal able to converse with Him on His level.”
Eve reached for the red fruit and the pears dropped around her like decaying petals.
“Yesss,” the snake hissed swaying on his branch. “That’s it, child. Take the fruit.”
Eve did, plucking the shiny orb from its limb. She stared at her reflection in its crimson depths.
“Ssseee. You did not die from touching it as God said. I have told you the truth. Now, eat, child and become like God.”
Eve raised the fruit to her lips and bit into its firm flesh. Flavor, fresh and crisp and better than anything she’d ever tasted, exploded on her tongue. She hummed, lost to pleasure as she consumed the fruit, never noticing the serpent slipping away or Adam approaching.
“Eve!” Adam’s voice cracked like thunder and Eve spun around startled. “What have you done?”
Eve glanced at the core in her hand then at her husband. Her other half. She should not be the only one to experience this pleasure. The serpent spoke true and Eve lived after eating the apple. For now she knew the fruit was called an apple. The serpent spoke true about naked also for they were both naked and Adam needed to understand so they could stop embarrassing themselves.
“Here, Adam,” Eve said to him as she plucked another apple from the tree. “The serpent said we would be like God if we ate of this fruit.”
Adam recoiled. “God forbade it! We will die if we eat of it.”
Eve shook the apple at him. “Do I look dead to you? The serpent spoke true when he said I would surely not die. He spoke true too that it would give me the knowledge of God.” When Adam made no move to approach Eve said; “Fine. When I speak to God at the meal tonight you alone will not understand for you will lack the knowledge to do so.” She turned dismissively from him.
Keeping her back to him, she smiled. It wasn’t long before a hand on her shoulder turned her around. She held out the apple in offering and Adam sighed. He took the fruit and bit into it. She saw the wonder she’d experienced reflected on his face; then the knowledge sank in. He looked at her, at her bare skin, assessingly and she flushed. He opened his mouth –
“Adam. Eve,” a melodic voice called. Normally the voice filled them with calm and contentment, but now they panicked for they were naked and that was the Lord their Creator searching for them. Adam’s feet rooted to the spot, but Eve grabbed his hand and tugged him behind a flowering shrub. There they crouched, trembling.
God walked around the bend and Eve gasped. The Lord looked at the bush they hid behind and frowned. “Why do you hide from me,” He asked.
“B-because we are naked, Lord,” Eve answered.
Disappointment filled her Creator’s expression. “And how do you know that, Eve?”
She dropped her chin, gaze falling to the dark, soft soil beneath her bare feet, as hot shame flooded her. God sighed and she could feel his sadness even as she was too afraid to look.
“Come to me, children.” They shuffled their way forward hunching and using their hands to cover their privates. “You have eaten from the forbidden tree and broken your word to me. You cannot remain in my garden.”
“No! Lord, please!” they cried falling to their knees, but God shook His head.
“I gave you dominion over everything before you. I asked only that you did not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life yet you have done so. I cast you from the Garden of Eden from this day forth. You and your children and your children’s children will toil the land and by your sweat and blood will you grow your own food. No more will you live forever and walk and dine beside me. Go now: be gone from my sight.”
“No, Lord! Please!” Eve begged, tears streaming down her face. “Do not send us from you! Please, Lord, I will do anything only let us stay by Your side.”
“Daughter,” God said reaching a hand down to cup her face. “You have already broken your word to me. You must bear the consequences.” Then He was gone and in His place were two angels with flaming swords. They hauled Adam and Eve up and cast them out of the gates of Eden.
Coats of animal skin landed in the dusty earth beside their prone forms. Even just this far outside the gate the richness of the garden was absent. Eve twisted to search for their Lord but the cherubim standing sentry crossed their blades and the flame and heat vapor distorted the air hiding Eden from her sight till tears blurred even that image.