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I don’t believe this. Here I am, the most beautiful and perfect being to have ever existed, and I’m inhabiting a lizard in a tree while these two useless humans bumble around their paradise. What’s the point in all this? They’re never going to last. God can protect them all He wants, but He gave them free will. They’re going to mess up everything He does for them. 


What was wrong with stopping after He made my brothers and I? We have all the power and glamor. One little rebellion, and the Lord of Love banishes us. I could end these disgusting meat bags with a glance if God wasn’t holding me back.


It took days to entice the female to come talk to me. Every time she would look in this direction from the tree of life, I would move around so the sunlight would glint off my scales and catch her eye. The male is too dim-witted to go against God’s word, but the female has more curiosity. She likes pretty things.


The first time she inched close enough to my tree to give it her full attention, I dipped my head below the leaves and said, “Hello,” in my best sweet as honey voice. She immediately gasped and ran back to her husband to tell him that she had discovered another creature that could talk. 


Of course, he didn’t believe her. “I named all the animals myself,” he said. “If any of them could talk, I would know. Let’s go back down to the river. I invented a new game called fishing. If you can grab a fish as it passes by, you win. I got the idea when I saw the bear doing it.” Then, he dragged her away.


The next day, they came back to the tree of life as they did every day. Woman snatched a white flower and an emerald fruit and positioned herself leaning against the trunk, facing me. She laced the flower in her hair before diving into her lunch. “Do you think everything we eat is a fruit?” She asked Man.


“Of course,” he responded. 


“What about those peanuts we had earlier? They’re not very fruity. There’s no juice in them.”


“Fruity?” He chided. “You can’t just go around making up words. That’s my job.”


“What’s my job?” she asked.


“Your job is to help me.”


“Great.” Woman grinned. “I just helped you make a word.”


They would drone on like this every day, as if naming things was an important job. I was the morning star and these two couldn’t light a fire if God handed them a lightning bolt. Before long, Man was nestled up against a camel for his afternoon nap. Woman had wandered into the shadow of my tree, searching the branches with her sea blue eyes. “Serpent?” She said in a low, tenuous voice.


In the shadows I steeled myself, then I descended beneath the golden leaves for Woman to see me. “Hello, again.”


“I was right,” she said quietly. “You can talk.”


“Of course,” I responded. 


“Why can you talk?” Woman asked. “I’ve never heard another animal make any kind of understandable sound.”


“They all speak in their own way.”


“Barks and growls and squawks and squeaks. You’re saying words like me. How is that possible?”


I coiled around a low branch and used a clawed toe to break the stem of a fruit nearby. The ruby-colored sphere thumped on the earth in front of Woman. She jumped back with her hand over her mouth muffling a yelp. “I suppose it started after I ate one of these,” I told her.


“You ate that?” she whispered. “We can’t eat those!”


“Why?” I asked innocently. “Did God tell you not to eat from the trees in the garden?”


I watched as the lowly sow contemplated my question. Her minimal human brain capacity had clearly been strained. “Well, no. We’re allowed to eat from the trees in the garden. But, God said that we must not eat or even touch the fruit of this tree in the middle of the garden, or we’ll die.”


I stared at her with one wide piercing eye on the right side of my head. “God told you that?”


Woman shook her head like a wet dog. “Man told me that God said that.”


I hung from the branch so that my face was level with hers. My forked tongue flicked as I spoke. “The fruit didn’t kill me when I ate it. I wonder why they would say that. Why would God want to keep such delicious fruit from you?”


Her eyes darted back toward man still nestled in the camel’s brown fur. “I don’t think God is trying to keep anything good from us. He loves us.”


I swiveled my head back toward the tree as my eyes rolled. “Perhaps you’re right,” I said. “Maybe it’s Man that wants the fruit for himself. Are you sure that he hasn’t been eating it when you’re not around?”


“What?” She stammered taking a step back. “My husband is always with me. We’ve never been separated in all the days we’ve been alive.”


I lazily began to slither my way toward the trunk. “What about when you’re sleeping? Are you sure he stays by you all night?”


“Of course he does.” She crossed her arms. “He’s always there when I wake up.”


“I’m sorry,” I told her in a voice dripping with sap.  “I’m sure you’re right. I was just curious why he always needs to take naps in the afternoon, but you don’t. It’s strange how tired he is every day. Maybe he’s just more active than you and wears himself out quicker.”


Woman scoffed and crossed her arms. “He is not more active than me! More easily distracted maybe. I can do anything he can and better if I really put my mind to it.” Her hands seemed to move in all directions of their own volition as her voice got louder. “He just bounces around between eating from as many different fruits as possible and making up a new game to play every day. Sometimes, I would just like to stay in one place and relax for a while. That doesn’t make him more active than me.”


“I understand. It can be hard playing second fiddle to someone who is clearly inferior to you.”


“What’s a fiddle?” she asked.


“Ugh, never mind,” I said. “I suppose there’s nothing you can do about it. He makes the decisions and all you can do is make the best of your situation.”


Woman stomped her bare foot in the grass. “He does not make all the decisions! We make decisions together.” She wasn’t even trying to whisper anymore.


“I guess I just haven’t seen the times that the two of you talk about what you’re going to do,” I said. “Usually when you’re by the tree of life, I see him dragging you there and then dragging you away when he’s done.”


“Exactly,” she announced with determination. “You can’t see all that we do if you’re always in this tree.” She waved a finger above her head triumphantly. “I can make decisions just as well as Man can.”


I smiled wryly. “I’m sure you could make decisions even better than man or God.”


Woman faltered. “What? No… I didn’t say that.”


I began to crawl deliberately down the base of the tree. “Of course, you didn’t.” As my claws dug into the dirt for the first time, my tail snaked its way down behind me. “You would never say it out loud, but you’ve thought about it.”


“I… I don’t think…”


I slithered my way around Woman, surrounding her and the fruit I had dropped in front of her. “Don’t worry. I won’t tell. It’ll be our secret.” I picked up the fruit with my front foot. Then I lifted myself up on my back feet and tail so that I was face-to-face with her. We both gazed at the red orb.


“I told you,” Woman stammered. “I’ll die.”


I placed the fruit gently in one of her grimy hands so that she had no choice but to hold it. A slight glint from the sun shone on its crimson skin as her fingers closed around it. The world grew silent as she stood there. The birds ceased their irritating chirping. The leaves stopped waving in the breeze. We couldn’t hear the fish jumping in the river anymore. “See,” I whispered. “You won’t die.”


The grimace on Woman’s face faded to a look of relief as she realized nothing had happened to her. “But, God said…”


“God knows what will happen when you eat it,” I interrupted. “He knows that your eyes will be open like His, knowing good and evil.”


“What’s evil?” The stupid human’s face looked like a monkey that had been outsmarted by a banana.


“You’re missing the point. If you eat this, you’ll be like God,” I said.


“God is invisible,” she told me. “I don’t think I’d want to be invisible.”


“What? He’s not invisible.” I shook my head, exasperated.


“Well, I haven’t been able to see Him.” 


Her line of thinking was like a lemur trying to comprehend a black hole. “Okay.” I attempted again to come down to her level. “If you eat the fruit, you’ll be able to see Him.”


“What does He look like?” she asked.


“Why does that matter?”


“He might have a good reason for being invisible. I’m not sure I want to be able to see Him. Things have been working out pretty well so far the way they are. What if I see Him and I’m not happy about it?”


“He’s not invisible!” I exclaimed. I clenched my clawed fists and started over. “Okay, forget that. This fruit will make you as smart as God. You want to be smart, don’t you?”


“You don’t think I’m smart?” Woman asked.


“I didn’t say that.”


“You wouldn’t have asked me if I wanted to be smart if you thought I was smart,” she deduced.


“Smarter! I meant smarter!” I shouted at the frustrating creature.


“Why are you yelling at me?” She looked dejected and began to lower the hand with the fruit.


I glanced at the tree of life and noticed Man groggily lift his head from its place on the camel’s abdomen. “Sorry,” I blurted. “I was just excited about how good this fruit is, and I really want to share it with you.” Her smile gradually returned. “Just try one bite. It tastes even better than it looks.”


“And it will make me wise like God?” Woman raised the fruit again to examine it. 


“If it can make a lowly serpent speak, just imagine what it could do for you,” I told her.


Then I watched with an intense glee as Woman brought the blood red orb toward her lips and sunk her teeth into mankind’s doom.

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