'I'm not going to lie to you,' said the snake, 'I don't like it any more than you do but it's part of the plan.'
'Plan, what plan?' said Adam. He seemed more interested in a butterfly that had landed on his knee than what the snake had to say. He put his finger out and the insect fluttered onto it, its wings shining gold, purple and green in the warm sunshine.
'The Plan,' said the snake, 'all capitals, the PLAN.' He tried to boom but it wasn't really working and it just came out more squeaky.
Um,' said Adam. He stood up and lifted to butterfly up so it could fly off. The snake, partly coiled round a tree, was now waist high to the naked Adam.
'Jeez, will you put that thing away,' said the snake.
'What?,' said Adam. He really didn't seem very interested.
'That, the thing between your legs.'
'Oh that,' said Adam. He pushed it around a bit but it didn't really seem to fit anywhere.
'What's it for anyway?' asked the snake
'You know,' said Adam, 'I just don't know. I mean fingers,' he said, wiggling them about, 'you can feel things with them. Pick things up. Put them down.' He demonstrated this with a rock. 'And arms and legs. Fingers wouldn't be much use on their own I guess. And I've figured out most of the stuff on my head although I'm not really sure what hair does. You haven't got any?'
'Nope,' said the snake, 'smooth as a cueball.'
'Whatever that is,' said Adam.
The snake almost managed to look sheepish but in the end all he managed was a kink rather than a shrug.
'And the bit in the middle, holds everything together, means I can see further and gives Eve something to cuddle up to. I like cuddling,' he said and moved closer to the snake
'Uh uh, not me buddy,' said the snake and slid futher up the tree and out onto a branch.
'But this stuff,' said Adam, pushing at his genitals, 'it doesn't seem to do anything. And I've got this hole round the back, look.' And he bent over, mooning the snake who recoiled.
'Do you have to?'
But Adam was on a roll. 'I mean, I know there's a hole. I've seen it reflected in the lake and Eve took a look at it yesterday. But it's shut tight, nothing seems to come out and we tried putting things in there but they just fell out after a while. And besides, it wasn't very confortable. I thought this might go in there,' he said, grabbing his penis, 'but it just won't stretch far enough.' And he pulled it out to its fullest extent to demonstrate. 'You see, not even halfway, whichever way you go.'
'Yeah, yeah,' said the snake, enough with the contortionism. 'What are you? God! Australian or something.' Adam looked puzzled. 'Ah, forget about it,' said the snake. And Adam did, happily. He didn't liked to be confused.
'So,' said the snake, 'getting back to my original point, the Plan.'
'The Plan,' said Adam, paying attention at last. He sat down, drew his knees up to his chest and looked directly at the snake. 'The plan.'
'Yeah, well, God has a plan. A plan for us all.'
'What kind of plan,' said Adam.
'We'll we each have roles to play. You know, how he told you you could eat anything in the garden except these apples, and if you did you'd die?'
'Well, my part in this is to persuade you to eat the apple.'
'But it's not my idea. It's His idea.'
'So, what does that mean? I mean, how is this going to work?'
'Well, we all obey God's rules, right?
'So if God says that I've got to persuade you to eat the apple, then, eventually, you'll have to eat the apple. Otherwise I wouldn't be doing what God said.'
'Oh, but he told me not to eat the apple.'
Did he? What did he actually say?'
'Well, he said don't eat the apple, because if you do you'll die.'
Well, there you go,' said the snake.
'Well, why would he bother to tell you what would happen if you did eat the apple, if he didn't want you to eat it?'
'For completeness sake?'
The snake rolled his eyes. 'Has he told you what would happen if you picked up that rock and brought it down on my head, very hard?'
'No. Do you think I should?' said Adam uncurling and moving over to the rock.
'No, no!' said the snake, hurriedly. 'It was just an example. But trust me, you and I, and God, would not be happy.'
'Oh,' said Adam.
'So, God hasn't told me what would happen means I shouldn't do it but if the has told me what would happen, I should do it because it means he wants me to?'
'Hey, give the kid a hand,' said the snake to no one in particular. Adam looked puzzled.
'I mean, yes, exactamundo, precisely.'
'But he told me not to eat the apple.'
'Oh for fuck's sake,' said the snake. 'There's just no getting through to some people,' and slithered off round the other side of the tree where Eve was lying out on the grass, picking grapes from a bunch. She was eating them one at a time and spitting out the pips at a magpie who hopped back and forth, picking them up and swallowing them.
'Any luck?' she said
'Nah.' He slithered right up to her.
'Sure, peel me one Beulah.'
'You are the charmer, aren't you?' she said and rolled onto her back, holding a grape between her lips.
The snake slithered up across her belly and between her breasts, coming to rest just inches from her face. He reared up and took the grape. Eve giggled and rolled over, spilling the snake onto the grass. The grape rolled from his open mouth and came to stop next to the magpie who picked it up a flew off before the snake could come to his senses.
'And you call yourself the Deciever' said Eve. 'Look, we've got to sort Adam out. I don't know why God made him so stupid and it's nice to cuddle and all that but a woman has needs you know.' The snake just looked sullen. Eve continued. 'Yesterday I had him walking round with a stick of rhubarb sticking out of his arse. He looked like a preposterous peacock, especially when he bent over to pick up a satsuma. Down would go his face, up would go the rhubarb, bright red and all. I mean, it was fine for a laugh, but he didn't even understand that I was laughing at him. I'm not getting any younger you know and I don't want to be a bloody virgin all my life.' The last line came out as a shout and Adam came round the tree to see what was happening. Eve was face down in the grass and the snake had slunk off back up the tree to hide in the leaves, his flickering tongue barely visible in the foliage.
'What was that?' asked Adam.
Eve rolled over, her face streaked with tears.
'Shouting, and a bit of crying,' she said.
'Have you been contemplating His countenance again, that always makes me cry.' But Eve just cradled her face in her arms and sobbed.
'If you loved me ...'
'But I do love you,' said Adam, 'I love everyone.' His arms stretched wide, to encompass the garden, the world.
'But aren't I special? Didn't God make me as your special companion? How much conversation do you get from a gazelle? Would a slime mold ever cuddle up to you? Has a coati mundi ever stuck rhubarb up your arse?'
'Well, no. Of course not. Only you do those special things for me.'
'But you love Him more than me, don't you?'
'Yes. My love for Him is absolute and unshakeable.'
'Well,' said Eve, 'I hope you two are very happy together.' And she walked off, down towards the river. And that's how it was for the next however many days. Whenever Eve saw Adam coming she would just stop what she was doing and walk off. Sometimes he would find her in the night, asleep with a lion, or under a mulberry bush and he would try to cuddle up to her but she would always wake up and walk off without a word.
Adam didn't understand. He hadn't felt like this since the Lord had taken one of his ribs to fashion Eve. There was an ache, a yearning, a void inside him. It was consuming everything else. He hardly ate these days and, spending all his time looking for Eve, he hadn't bothered to wash either. His feet were black and the soles cracked, his face smeared with the juice of the few fruits he had taken to quench his thirst, the hair on his chest matted with sweat and anguish. He called out to the Lord but there was no reply. He was desperate, he wanted to know what this feeling was, and how to stop it.
One day, he passed by the tree again and there was the snake, idly curling itself round the lower branches, watching the patterns the shadows made on its skin as it darted in and out, lazily grabbing at imaginary prey.
'Oh, it's you,' said the snake, 'you've let yourself go, haven't you?'
'Snake!' cried Adam, dropping to his knees and clutching the creature with both hands.
'Hey, ease off there buddy,' said the snake squirming in his grip, its eyes bulging not inconsiderably. Adam let go, and the snake shuffled around, collecting his dignity.
'Snake!' said Adam again, looking for the words.
'Wow, she has really got you bad, hasn't she?' Adam looked puzzled.
'Your head hurts, here, behind the eyes.' The snake pointed with his tail. It wasn't particularly dignified, but needs must and all that. Adam nodded.
'And there's a pit of emptiness inside you.' Again Adam nodded, more enthusiastically.
'And you just want it to stop.' Adam's eyes widened.
'You know,' he stated, 'you know! But what is this?'
The snake considered his approaches. His tongue flickered back and forth. Eventually he said, 'That's how you feel when you want to die.' And he tilted his head, ever so slightly so that even Adam, the simple offspring of an uncaring deity, couldn't fail to understand what he had to do.