Variation on Genesis: The Temptation of Eve

by Carl Napolitano

Serpent, who was as cunning as she was petty, slithered her green / black / silver / diamond / liquid / muscled body into the branches of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and lowered her head from the leaves and ripe fruit so she could flick her forked tongue into Eve’s ear when Eve was walking by, alone. 

“Oh!” Eve shivered and turned to see Serpent, furtively eyeing her from above. “What do you want?” 

“God has been lying to you!” Serpent gossiped. “They have been keeping all the power to themselves. They have forbidden you and Adam from eating this fruit because they don’t want you to know good from bad, because then you would know that them forbidding you to eat this fruit is bad and they are bad for keeping you ignorant and isn’t that fucked up? You should take a bite of it to show them they’re not the boss of you.” 

“Well, have you eaten this fruit?” Eve asked. 

Serpent shook her head. “No, I don’t eat fruit. I eat small animals like mice and frogs and songbirds.” 

“Then how would you know?” Eve sassed back. She grabbed Serpent by the neck, carried her to the edge of the garden, and threw her over the wall, not because Serpent was evil but because she was annoying and trying to start shit, which Eve had no patience for. 

So Eve and Adam lived happily in the garden, unpunished and innocent as ever. 

But Serpent was not the only animal conspiring against them. Raccoon loathed Eve and Adam for no other reason than she just did. Maybe she hated that they were hairless but did not live in water like Porpoise. Maybe she hated them because they walked on two legs like birds but couldn’t fly. Who knows? Raccoon certainly didn’t. Hate, like love, sometimes cannot be explained. 

Serpent’s error was, Raccoon figured, that she tried to use words, tried to convince them to enact their own downfall. Why bother with that when she had her own scrappy body to do harm? Raccoon had no venom like Serpent but she could create the same effect; she willed rabies into existence through her own malice, the disease proliferating within her. Then, in the middle of the night, she leapt onto Adam from the lowest branches of the Tree of Life and bit him on the shoulder before he threw her off him and she scurried into the bushes. Sure this would mean Raccoon would succumb to rabies herself, but sometimes we destroy ourselves in our efforts to destroy others, so blinded by hate we are. 

Adam went back to Eve and showed her his wound. She cleaned it out, wiping away his blood, which neither of them had seen before. Raccoon’s teeth marks made a small, red, dotted circle on his skin. Eve asked Adam if he was okay. He said that he was now. 

But he was not okay. Soon his body would become unbearably hot and shiver like pine needles. Light became too much for his eyes, food too much for his belly. He writhed on the grass in pain, which he had never felt before. Eve did not know what to do. She called out to God but God did not answer, asleep or indifferent or collapsing into despair as well. 

Eve tried to comfort Adam, to hold him close, to keep him safe—disease was as foreign to her as wrath or greed—but he was not himself. His eyes were too big and too dark. His mouth foamed violently, as if a selfish goddess would rise from it in some other creation myth. Eve would never guess that that goddess would be a goddess of love. She knew only one God and that God was God of everything. 

Still, God did nothing when Adam started to flail and bare his teeth and knocked Eve into the hard bark of a tree. Did nothing while Adam charged her and chased her through the garden, howling and growling, deranged. Did nothing while Adam punched and clawed at her, tried to bite her breast, and she cried and cried and cried, fighting him off just barely. Eve had to save herself. She took a rib out of her own chest and made a knife of it. This knife was fear and it was love, sharp and desperate and ripped from the body. She plunged it into Adam’s heart and Adam stopped moving and there was so much blood. He was dead, but she didn’t know what this meant. 

At last, God came down from heaven and said to Eve over and over and over again, “I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry.”

Carl Napolitano is a writer and ceramicist from Little Rock, Arkansas. He holds a BA in English-Creative Writing and Studio Art from Hendrix College and is currently working toward his MFA in fiction at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His work has appeared in Assaracus, The Hunger, and Cicada Magazine and is forthcoming in The Rumpus. He is an associate editor for Sibling Rivalry Press.
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