Adam had been running for several hours now. Across the immense Garden he sprinted, breathing deeply the pure, perfect air. This was his blessed and ordained time with his Lord, when the mind opened and he could think and feel apart from Eve, who had run ahead and veered off some time ago. He confessed there were times he had worry for her, and that was new; until he had taken that very long walk around the circumference of the Tree, he never doubted or feared. Now he dialogued freely with the Lord and gave Him those faintly troubling thoughts, hoping to be done with them once and for all.
The Lord never referenced the Tree. Instead He spoke of His creation, the immense jeweled canopy of sky, and the hydrodome that gave the earth its moisture; the tides of vast oceans, and the cataclysmic upheaval of land that now towered above distant soils; all the invisible matter that stitched both body and air together and all of the cosmos beyond Adam’s reach that he could only imagine.
Will I see them one day, Lord? The lights of that distant universe?
As surely as you see the Garden around you, you will one day dwell amongst the rest of My creation.
Adam felt his spirit lift from the burden of the strange emotions. He quickened his strides and darted toward the center of his home, soaking in the moisture on his skin, welcoming the sun’s heat, opening his ears to the calls of the subordinate beasts that roamed near—
And then he felt it. Its presence struck him as a branch to the gut, and he came to an almost immediate halt, blood pulsing rapidly under his skin. He took a deep breath and pulled himself up to full height.
The Tree stood with leaves unmoving in the light wind, it’s yellowish fruit pregnant with sweet juice and maddeningly glossy in the humid air. Adam felt his eyes glaze slightly as he stared with every intention of looking away. The trunk was huge, thick, gnarled, with roots that reached deep into the earth. Adam didn’t understand that, a thing so forbidden striking so far into the Lord’s creation. A thing with such consequences yielding so aromatic a fruit and leaves with healthy, determined veins. In fact—and he had thought this before, guiltily—if the Lord had not warned them against this Tree, they would have no idea such a thing of beauty could cause them harm.
As Adam contemplated unblinkingly, his compromised vision gave him the sight of countless white and golden lights circling an immense glowing orb in the darkness. Adam felt the enormity and the splendor of it deep in his bones. He knew it was part of the rest of creation the Lord had spoken of.
Was this what the Tree offered?
Adam lifted his left foot to take a step toward the Tree.
It changed, in just an instant; the leaves curled and rotted; the fruit spoiled to a sickening brown and leaked its thick, poisonous juice; the branches splintered, and the trunk spit forth hungry insects from holes it had previously concealed. Adam recoiled and took several staggering steps back.
“Why are you here?”
He turned and blinked at Eve, desperate to clear his sight.
“I left you for the river, and I find you here,” she went on, her eyes shifting from him to the Tree.
Adam went to her and took her face into his gentle hands. “The Lord has told us not to come to this place. We must obey. We must leave and not come back.”
Eve’s eyes were slightly unfocused, still looking over his shoulder to what he knew was again the most stunning tree ever to rise from Eden’s soil.
“Eve, never return here…not even to fetch me.” Adam struggled with the words, the thought. “Will you do that?”
She strained to look up from the tree to the sky, where their Lord was silent and watching. When she gave no immediate response, Adam tugged at her hand. “Eve, will you do that?”
“Yes,” she answered with an empty voice, and Adam’s heart leapt in a surge of new fear. He began to run, keeping her hand firmly clasped in his, and she had no choice but to follow him as he led them away from this place of illusions and death.
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