Without Biting the Fruit of Knowledge

Adam, the First Man, sat on Eve’s floor in a pair of blue briefs.

"Hold this for me."

He lopped off a drooping peach bloom, added it to his pile. Eve attached flat, dark leaves like fringe to the leg-holes of her bikini.

"Think we’ll have enough?"

"Hope so."

Sinead carried off a sunflower. Adam rescued it, lifting her off the floor with it.

"Shame." Eve shook a finger at her; Adam secured a bougainvillea. Sinead took the scolding with class, squatting, pink fingers folded prayerfully. Eve snatched her up to kiss. Sinead seized the filter of Eve’s cigarette with her teeth and trotted it away. It was as long as she was. Adam reclaimed it and handed it to Eve with a look; Eve held it between her lips, focused on a pair of droopy lilies.

"Bad girl. Bad as a kid." She sniffs the end of his nose; he kisses hers.

"She needs watching every minute."

"You’ve still got your top to do."

"I know."

"We’re running out of flowers," Adam surreptitiously tucks the last two birds of paradise into his pile.

"I’m using almost all leaves for the bottoms, look. And I saw that. Those are girl flowers."
 
"They are not.” Pause. "Why.”

"Too orange." 

Eve holds them against the straps of the top, above the cups, lifts her brows at him.

"Nice."

Downstairs, floral, pristine, Eve steps through the door into a yard of the dead, carrying a green apple.

At the curtain’s edge a porous mist flowers the still air from an unseen spring of smoke, lacing the darkness and senses.

The building is old, alive with ghosts. The irony is not lost on her, Eve in a city of angels.
 
Things lie crumbling: pillars, headstones. The walls are obscured by silence and draping cloths, the stage’s handful of night colored by smoke. Echoes move through an indistinct source of deep blue light.

Barefoot she moves slowly through, looking, feeling by footprint. She stands on cool grass. Sod?

In a far edge of the graveyard a life-sized angel leans over a lowered sword. He is immense, knighted by the blue light to unholy effect. Hair shaggy, dark, perhaps tousled with shreds of spider web. Shapes hover and shift. The angel’s shadows stir.

She pauses.

Behind her, below her, the past an epic. This place is secret, severed from the garden, and Adam.

She folds her arms, peers sharply. Is he stone, or is he?

His large dense form is sculpted, like one of The Three Shades. Cobwebs stretch along the balcony around the fiction of souls, crossing the room corner to corner. Web wends up chair legs, along edges, stage to the ceiling where it falls tentishly to the center, gruesome umbilicus, a slender black spider within it.

Evening gowns, characters. Robed shadows go by. Moving her eyes, she studies the angel: his forehead inclines where he kneels. Behind him, Adam.

Only the bar and the tables are candled.

A fortune-telling carrel stands at the limit of the velvet curtain, lit dark yellow. Gowns and dressings cover the walls, masking. The ceiling is high. Night and night’s sky have been darkened down into the mortal and brought here where angels kneel and keep vigil. The gypsy peers out. Her teeth looked bad for real.
 
Away from the shrim bridling the house Eve stands offstage in a patch of jack o’ lanterns. Howling plays over the sound system. Her people are out there. One of them is in conversation with Lucifer, who bears a trident.

She sits at their table, studying the apple, wishing she’d brought a snake.
 
The edge of the stage is here, mist off its ledge in a riverfall with good and handsome weight, pouring as a force, rolling up the inclined aisle, swirling and pooling where it can climb no further; gallons and gallons knee-high, a ghost river. Eve dislikes being unable to see the floor.
 
"You look delicious." Lucifer reaches for her apple. His center of gravity is off.
 
"I do, don’t I."
 
"Where’ve you been.”

"My flowers came off when I got dressed. I had to stitch three back on."
 
“Did you see the gypsy carrel?"
 
“Did you see the evil angel?"
 
I am the evil angel," Lucifer bows, losing his horns.

"Your antlers."
 
“What angel?”
 
“A blue angel in the cemetery backstage. Kneeling by the door."
 
"Excellent. Give me that daisy."

"What do you think? Where is he?"
 
“He’s blue? I didn’t see him." Lucifer, with sadness.
 
"Why’s he blue?"

Eve spots Adam on the dance floor, Adam, circling a sleek, breasty black cat. He tugs her tail.
 
The cat peers over her shoulder at him.
 
"Creepy as hell, but built, boy."
 
"I want to see him."
 
“Like a rock.”

“Where’s he now?”
 
Two rocks. He must still be out there, he hasn’t come in."
 
"I’ll never make it," says Lucifer. "I’m too drunk to hunt."

 

Adam advances on all female perimeters, in turn.
 
The crowd grows. A tall deer, white tail lifted over her round behind, in a silk dress. A congregation of hippie women, their necks laced with glass and metal and shell beads: all shapes, strands of solid colors, varieties of green, red, violet, pearl, necks so heavily wound on some of them they resemble the African neck stretchers. One of them leans into the arms of a werewolf in a hunter-green vest, seizes his head and kisses him. Her long shapely leg wraps his waist, she pulls him against her. His hands slide up her body. Eve raises her eyebrows.
 
Beyond a pack of velvet golden lionesses pace, elegant whiskered faces reflecting displeasure. One carries a cub with the nose of a dog; it paws at her breast and neck, little tail thrashing. He grips her at the throat gently with his teeth, mouth wide. Adam’s breasty cat is with them, tail in hand. To her left, a buxom cobra stands mysteriously, hood flattened. Across from the lionesses, a small, well-endowed lady leopard.
 
Eve checks on the angel; his spot in the cemetery is empty but there’s furtive motion among the stones, close to the ground; she stands in silence and when she has not altered her position, she spots a few new creatures — furred with large, black eyes, noses and tails of various lengths. Sweetly colored, like cinnamon, and whiskery; they flatten themselves here and there, sniff and tug each other.
 
Adam has his choice. He is selective. Eve doesn’t hold it against him. They want him. They want the One created, want to feel what the hand of God felt when Adam was made flesh and for his part, Adam just wants to fulfill them. And Adam. Eve commends him or condemns it, unpredictably; Eve is moody.
 
Once the apple is eaten, Adam has a choice to make.

He eats the apple and Eve walks her walk with the core, holding up the final bite with juice running down her arm, long hair and tantalization in her wake. Adam fulfills Man’s role, does his apple-biting and vanishes when the fruit has been devoured. Weird wild flowers develop, open to him, turn to his motion and follow his light; they bend as he approaches, frill, devour; scent him and send their scent to him and Adam receives it all. Adam. You are as much a mystery here as you are to yourself; Eve or Woman may never know you. Are you lonely, Adam, what do you seek from the fruit, from the fruit of the tree?

And is knowledge yours?
 
Together, in a place of souls outside the palace of the Father, the place forbidden. All who know, know us and will believe that Eve, Woman, caused this fall though they know of the serpent, but do they know of the flesh?
 
They don’t know Man, who takes us out of the House as surely as we have left the garden. This one who names them all leads them by hand as surely as the cat and the lioness. His army of animals, beginning with zebras in their fullness of stripe and hoof, is led by a yellow dog, simple and true. All will eventually come to Adam and Adam, though he may once have lost God, will receive them; receive them and name them to themselves if he loves them and if he doesn’t, he will name them in his mind alone.
 
These are greater truths, older, than those of this simple choice, the choice he does make of Eve.

Is it possible now that division by science from art is the curse of knowledge, mortality’s tool of the loss of God? We go wandering, and wander hopeless in night… have we lost God then, have we, who cast The Gates of Hell with those characters of masked parade and soft dance?
 
One may seek the angel, but the angel will choose. These aren’t our angels, after all, who kneel in fallen light or disappear; the creations of mortality are accidental yards built only with life’s loss; yards whose only life remaining is a slight shy mammal.
 
Man cannot know which bell within him rings with holiness of spirit unless the hand of God guides his small darkness aside.

And why should He.

Posted in FictionBookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.
  • Contribute a Story

    Identity Theory publishes fiction from new and up-and-coming writers, with special attention paid to promoting strong literary voices. To contribute a short story, read our fiction submission guidelines.