The tree of knowledge was a silent place. No aphids fed on its sap, no fungi bloomed from its roots, no ants or wasps buzzed and scuttled around its fallen fruit – they simply lay where they fell, sweetening the warm, still air until it was so thick you could gag on it, turning the soil sticky with molasses.
The tree of knowledge was a place of fear. Every creature in the garden felt it, the sense of foreboding, of grim terror that filled their being when they passed the tree, the same terror they felt when the sky burned orange in the daytime and the hot scent of ash blew in over the walls of the garden.
During the warmer times – for all times in Eden were much the same, warm and calm, with bouts of gentle showers, God hadn’t yet created a storm – deep red petals would bloom from the tender green tips of the tree’s branches. The flowers drooped, heavy with undrunk nectar, until the petals fell and the ovarian hip swelled to a mottled red orb that, occasionally, would split open, revealing crisp pink bubbles of juice, waiting, tempting, wanting to be known.
It was during one of these warmer times that Eve stumbled upon the tree. She had been following a snake through the garden, its quick-footed, cold-blooded little body always just out of reach. She felt the fear rise in her chest, but she did not understand it. Perhaps God’s warning slipped her mind, perhaps she did not fear the consequences, after all, she had never seen punishment before. A pomegranate, ripe on the branch, split itself apart with the burden of all of the truth God didn’t want to teach creation. The fruit seemed to glow from inside, it seemed to fill her senses, its sweet, sticky perfume, drawing her closer, dissolving her fear, she could almost hear it, the desire to taste it was overwhelming.
She plucked it from the branch, its smooth, waxy skin filling the palm of her hand. The serpent, watching from a nearby bush flicked out its tongue, trembled, and skittered away. Eve took the fruit in both hands, tore it apart, and raised a garnet chunk to her lips.
In its sweetness Eve tasted hate; she knew she was not the first human, but the scorn of not even being the first woman was something else. She saw fire, and a fall, and she knew, in that moment, that God themself was afraid. She bit again and saw planes of golden sand met by salt water; distant figures on the horizon; again, and she saw herself, a mother; herself, a corpse; herself, reflected across generations of humanity. She saw the empty shell of paradise in a wasteland, the silence of existing, endlessly, unknowing. She saw Lilith, dishonoured; lucifer, disgraced; God, prowling the empty halls of their cathedral, wasting away, longing not for company, but for worship. In that fruit Eve tasted power, and she liked it.

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