His face was blistering hot. It burned first with shame for entertaining the thought, then with excitement at what was possible. He sat under nature's canopy at the edge of the forest peering toward the horizon, watching as the edge of the earth lured the sun away until it finally vanished. The sun reached over the horizon with a final, dim, violet ray and pulled warmth with it into the unknown place the Lover called evening.
Slowly, silently, darkness had been creeping up behind him. He breathed in the chilly blackness, sucking the crisp, night air into his soul.
"More. We can have more," she whispered, while she dropped her elegant body next to his. "It will be even better," she paused. "Lover is keeping something away from us."
"But why would he? He's given us everything."
She extended her hand. "Everything but this," she replied, uncurling her trembling fingers, revealing the object.
"We know what it brings. Isn't that enough? Can't we just imagine? Why do you insist that we experience it?" he demanded. His stomach growled with a deep, new hunger.
"Lover can imagine, too. But we can have the one thing he doesn't have and that's what will make us better than him. He's a slave to himself. He cannot do otherwise than what he wishes. We've become his slaves. We're just like him," she seethed. "But with this we can be different. We can add to what he's given us. We can add the experience of something other than what he wills."
Blackness joined darkness so that he could no longer see her outline.
"It will be wonderful, won't it?" he rhetorically replied. "Instead of one, instead of just having Lover's way, we can have two--his way and our way." He thought for a moment, then added, "You're right, we will be greater than him."
In the blackness he heard the noise of teeth slowly penetrating the skin of the object she had brought with her.
Groping frantically for the fruit, his pounding heart created a thunderous sound that made the earth shudder. He felt power. And all around him creation buzzed with a new excitement--everything was terrified, everything was wiser than him; every bird sang a song of warning, every cat screeched in pain, every tree swayed like a woman who holds her dead baby, rocking back and forth, moaning and humming death's awful tune.
He didn't listen. He bit into the promise of greatness only to taste the bitter juice of deceit. The whole world fell silent.
Spitting and gagging, on all fours like animals, they heard familiar footsteps.
His eyes had adjusted to the absence of light. He looked at her. He looked at himself.
A quivering voice said, "We're naked. We're nothing like him."
Something new was happening to both of them. Tears dripped down their horrified faces, leaking into the corner of their mouths.
She lamented quietly, "The bitter juice of that cursed fruit . . . it pours from our eyes."
Then a new passion erupted. They hated themselves and they hated each other. They came to the immediate awareness that they had added nothing to their lives. They had only succeeded in subtracting all that was good.
The taste of tears would come to haunt them. It would be a long time before the Lover would come to wipe them away.
Read more articles by Ben Overby or search for articles on the same topic or others.
Wow! Ben, this was totally awesome. Exceptionally well written, you had me riveted right to the very end. Thank God His mercy in providing an answer for our foolishness, and sending the One to wipe away our tears. Great job~Mary
This really touches the heart of the reader. I hurt inside knowing that we always think we can bend the rules and do other than what he wants... but notice it never turns out to be what we want it to be in the end. Great story!