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The Apple

A new telling of the Garden of Eden story

It was so long ago, so long ago. Maybe I should have known better, but I didn’t. I was young, innocent and ignorant. Live and learn, they say, but learn. Now look at me, tired, dark bags under my eyes, bony hands with skin like dry fish scales, sagging breasts and look at these skinny legs with varicose veins and hairy as a gorilla or something.

Not like the old days when I had a body like a goddess. I remember how he’d chase me through the garden until I’d let him catch me and just as he was about to take me, I’d squirm away and take off, laughing, my blond hair halfway down my back blowing in the wind. I never wore any clothes in those days, nothing, didn’t even think about it and he didn’t wear anything either. We felt so free. My skin was smooth as that damn apple I ate, the one that caused all the trouble and changed everything.

We had it made, no worries, no responsibilities. We could play all day and swim in the river and climb trees and pretend we were monkeys and jabber jabber and eat berries until our bellies hurt. No one ever told us what to do or when to go to sleep. He was my best friend, my only friend, and there was never any thought of messing around. That came after the big blow up. I don’t think he has ever really forgiven me. He says he has, but deep down I think he’s still pissed.

Sometimes he just loses it. Those sudden flare ups when he starts yelling at me for being late to do chores ‘cause I’m combing my hair or ‘cause the soup is too salty and I know it’s something else. Then I get all upset at his yelling and yell back and first thing I know we’re screaming at each other, saying horrible things and we spend the rest of the day not talking. We always make up but I don’t think we ever get over all the bitterness and really forgive each other for what happened that day with the apple.

Thinking back like I always do, I’m not sure it could have been any different. I know we were told not to go near the big tree cause if we did, we’d be in big trouble. I didn’t even know what trouble was, but somehow being told to stay away from the big tree made us want to go near it even more. All I remember is this deep voice saying, “I’m warning you, do not to eat the fruit from that tree.” He said something about it being the tree of knowledge but I had no idea what he was talking about. What the hell was knowledge? The voice said we could eat from all the other trees that were all over the place. Really, there was no reason to eat from that one tree. It’s not like we were starving.

Then this one day I see a man walking towards me. I’d never seen him before, but I have to admit my knees got a little wobbly when I saw him. He had a great smile, the bluest eyes I’d ever seen and long black hair down to his shoulder. His voice was soft, almost a whisper, but it was his smile that really got to me. I couldn’t take my eyes off of him and felt my heart beating like never before. He pointed to the big tree and asked if I’d like to have some fruit from it. He just smiled and nodded when I told him we’re not suppose to eat the fruit from that tree or else we’d be in big trouble. He had the whitest teeth I’d ever seen and shook his head, smiling and laughed when I told him that. Then he looked me in the eyes like no one ever did before. He said, “Don’t be silly. Nothing is going to happen and besides, you don’t know what you’re missing.”

I was pretty nervous when he took my hand and we walked towards the tree. He picked me up by the waist and I reached the lowest branch and picked the biggest apple I could. As soon as he put me down, I looked at him and asked, “Are you sure it’s alright to eat this?”

“Yes,” he said, softly and with the sweetest smile, his hand gently brushing my hair away from my eyes. “There’s no reason you shouldn’t enjoy the fruit from this tree. It’s really special and after one bite, you’ll know what I mean.”

Just as I took a bite, the juice running down my chin, I saw my boyfriend running towards me, shouting, “What are you doing?”

But it was too late. I took another big bite then handed him the apple. “Wait ‘til you taste this,” I said. “It’s really sweet. You’ll love it.

He scowled and pushed my hand away. “Now we’re in for it. You broke the rule about eating from this tree. How could you do such a dumb thing?”

He was really upset, but when I told him this guy said nothing would happen, I couldn’t resist and really, this is the best apple I’ve ever had.”

I offered him the apple again. “Come on. Nothing’s going to happen. Take a bite.”

He looked at the guy standing next to me then back at me. “I hope you’re right.”

It’s hard to explain what happened after that, but both of us felt different, strange. I don’t know if he was jealous of the guy who got me to eat the apple or what it was, but we both were tense. Suddenly, the sky got dark and a big wind came, making everything around us bend. There was a big booming sound. We didn’t know where it was coming from. That was the first time I heard thunder and then we saw these bolts of lightening flashing in the sky. We tried to hide behind a rock. Then we heard a deep voice yell, “You disobeyed and cannot hide from me. Where are you?”

It was pretty scary. My boyfriend looked at me and closed his eyes and I could tell he was thinking what to do. He looked so upset. I thought he was going to cry but then he took a deep breath and turned to me. “We can’t hide. We made a big mistake and now were really in for it.”

He suddenly got up and stood in the path in front of the tree. He grabbed my hand and made me stand next to him. There we were standing naked in front of the tree in the middle of the path and the wind was blowing hard.

“Here we are,” my boyfriend said. I was still scared, squeezing his hand but thought it was brave of him to come out of hiding, so I stood there next to him, holding his hand but, let me tell you, my stomach was doing flips and my throat felt tight. It wasn’t easy but I knew he was right, you can’t hide.”

I remember looking around for the guy who said it was okay to eat the apple, but he must have taken off because he was gone. Then I looked down and saw a snake slithering near my feet and I screamed and hid my face in my boy friend’s chest. I had never been so scared in all my life.

From that day on, life got really hard. We had children, twins. Nice boys but they fought with each other a lot. I think they felt our tension. We farmed and worked for every bite of food. The hardest part was always wondering if what were doing was right or wrong. Was I being responsible? Was I a good wife, a good person? Sometimes, I’d lay awake at night not able to sleep because I was so worried and, when I did sleep, I had nightmares a lot.

I remember the first time I saw wrinkles around my eyes and mouth. Everyday I would look at my face in the pond. Then the grey hairs came. I put on a lot of weight and don’t feel like making love like I used to. I just don’t feel pretty.

I know it doesn’t matter too much now. The past is the past. But sometimes I wonder what would have happened if we hadn’t eaten the apple that day. Who knows?


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