It was a cold morning. I could feel the beading dew running down my scales and dripping to the ground below.
“What a miserable place.” I shivered under my breath, “’Very Good’ indeed.”
As I pushed through the wet leaves of that tree I was only warmed by the glowing resentment for the one who sent me here. All I wanted to do was improve my standing. To be more like the king. Of course, in a sweeping over-reaction to my attempts to raise myself up, he, ever the jealous sort, could not take any competition. In such abuse of power, he threw me out of his house to this unpleasant realm of leaves and sap.
“What hell.” I muttered again.
I was looking. Not for food or home, but for a chance to free more subjects of the king from his oppressive rule.
“I will set them free,” I said to myself, “set them free to choose whether or not they want to serve the king. All that must be done is show them that he has overstepped his authority and is just using fear to control them.”
I pushed aside one last wet leaf out of my face and there she was, the woman. Perfect. Looking to the fruit among the tree I was in, I remembered that they were told not to eat it.
“The king always keeps the best fruit for himself.”
“What was that?” The woman asked.
I said, “Oh, I didn’t see you there!” I stopped for a second to look back at the fruit of the tree, “Did the king actually say that you can’t eat off of any tree in this garden?!”
She looked at the fruit of that tree and clarified, “No.” She said, hesitantly, “We can eat fruit out of any of the trees in the garden except this one. He said that if we even touch it we will die.”
“Die?!” I laughed, “You won’t die!” I grabbed one of the fruits and bit into it with an obvious enjoyment, responding with its juice running out of my mouth, “Quite the opposite, actually, you will never feel more alive than when eating this fruit. The king keeps this for himself and does not allow his subjects to have any of it. He knows that in eating it you will be free, like him. You will know and experience things that only he does.” I swallowed another bite of its sweetness.
There was a long pause as she looked at the fruit. I could tell that she desired to be free from the oppression of the king. The morning light danced off her eyes as she considered the fruit.
“It does look good,” she started, “and why else would he hold us back from this one tree unless he was threatened by it.”
“That’s exactly right.” I seethed, “I’ve been eating it all morning, and look!” I looked up to heaven, “I’m still alive!”
As my eyes fell back to the woman, she already had the first piece of fruit in her mouth. The man was close by and came over to see what was happening. She handed him some of the fruit and he ate as well.
They sat down and leaned against that tree, enjoying the fruit for the rest of the morning. It was a freedom that neither had known, a freedom I was well acquainted with. I knew that rush of liberty, that desire to be wise, that all-consuming fire of independence. They were joining me in it, and I couldn’t have been happier.
After they had had their fill of fruit and enjoyment they looked at one another with a look other than that of enjoyment. I watched intently. It soon came to their realization that they were naked. As I watched this wisdom flood their minds, I whispered to them, “Can you see what was hidden?”
They slowly nodded.
“Let the freedom overcome you.” I coiled tighter around the tree’s branch until I could feel every detail of the bark. “You are becoming like the king,” I seethed, “Just like me.”
The man, obviously panicked, jumped up and started ferociously pulling leaves out of the tree. “We must cover ourselves!” He shouted. They both gathered several leaves and vines together and sewed coverings for themselves as hurriedly as they could.
“You have nothing to be ashamed of!” I said to them, “This is who you are now, it cannot be taken away and it cannot be covered over.”
I reasoned with them about their new freedom for that whole afternoon, but they were incredulous! They couldn’t handle the freedom they now had and yearned to have it taken away again. The fools! How could wisdom be a bad thing? The king’s effect on them was obviously deeper than on me.
As the day came to its close and the cool evening breeze slithered through the trees of that garden, another sound accompanied it. I knew that sound. It was the king, walking through the garden.
The man and woman quickly hid in some low hanging trees several paces away from this tree I was in.
“Where are you?” the king called out.
“I heard you coming, so I hid in fear of you. My covering I made to cover my nakedness is not good enough.”
“Did someone tell you that you were naked?” He pointed to my tree, “Did you eat from the tree that I commanded you not to eat?”
The man pointed at the woman and said, “You made this woman, you gave her to me, and she gave me the fruit to eat.”
I gave a quick grin at this. The woman was quiet, but the man was standing his ground in his new freedom, even blaming the king for the woman! I beamed with pride.
The king looked intently at the woman and pleaded, “What have you done?”
She pointed right at me, “He tricked me, and I ate.”
I quickly looked around for a hiding place, some hole, some cleft, but there was no place to hide. I looked back up to see the glare of the king staring right at me. He didn’t even ask for my side of the story!
“Cursed are you because of what you have done!” He said, “Cursed above all the beasts of the field!”
He wrenched me out of the tree and pinned me to the ground. “You will now crawl on your belly in the dirt for as long as you live.”
Grabbing my head, he forced me to look at the woman, “There will come hostility between you and her descendants. He shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel.”
He took hold of me and threw me out of the garden into the wilderness to fend for myself. It was, I supposed, the prize of my freedom. I didn’t need the man and the woman anyway. Besides, I knew what the king was like. Someone was going to have to die and I’m sure glad it wasn’t me.