“Good evening Miss Beauty”. A voice that sounded very strange to her startled her from behind. She almost fainted out of fear. She looked back to see who was greeting before venturing to exchange the pleasantries. It was Crafty Curl. She remembered seeing Crafty Curl for the first time in her life the day she was going to River Euphrates with Adams Strong. He had told her that Crafty Curl was the serpent that lived with him in the Eden East Gardens. At that moment, she intuitively felt awkwardly restless about being around the snake. She wondered what it was doing there in that hot afternoon.
By Sam O. Salau
Adams Strong was going in front while Evelyn Beauty followed behind. He seemed to know everywhere and everything in the garden. The journey to the river Euphrates was more of an excursion to her. He pointed out to things and explained them to her.
He greeted all the animals as they passed them by. One of the creatures that fascinated Evelyn Beauty most was the Crafty Curl.
“Here we are at the river.” Adams Strong announced.
She looked at the river. It was crystal clear. She could even see the waterbed at the bottom of the river. A long stretch of beautiful flowers outlined the boundaries of the water. Bright colorful creatures were dancing around in its crystal clear waters, as though they were excited at the sight of her and are staging a welcome performance. A small golden fish darted across as she bent down to scoop a handful of water. Her hands nearly missed it.
“I will leave you here to take care of yourself. You can rest under that Almond tree when you are through with bathing.” He said, pointing to a tree not too far away. “I will come around in the evening to keep your company”.
“Thank you”, she replied as they both parted ways.
She jumped into the river and swam around for some few minutes. Where she learnt how to swim, she could not recall. She cast her mind back to all that had happened. So much had happened in such a short time, but nothing made any sense to her. She still could not make anything of it. Whatever happened, she prayed she was in a safe hand. She got out of the river and lay under the Almond tree. A lot of things still bothered her mind.
Who is Adams Strong?
Why is she falling in love with him?
Who is she, Evelyn Beauty?
What will Mr. Gracious Being say when He sees her?
As she pondered on these thoughts, she did not know when she slept off.
”Wake up sleepy head,” she heard a voice from the dream world. The voice seemed very distant. She managed to open her eyes and saw Adams Strong standing by her. She was not expecting anyone else apart from him. She had woken up a couple of times before now but had drifted back to sleep because she did not know where was safe and where was not safe for her to go in Eden East Gardens.
“Thanks for checking up on me.”
“It is the least I can do for a friend”, he said as he helped her up.
“I am a lot refreshed now after that sleep”
“I knew you needed it. What would you like to eat?”
“I really do not feel like eating anything.”
“I have some fruits here. They will be good for you.”
“That is so thoughtful of you. Thanks a bunch.” They sat back under the Almond Tree to eat the fruits.
“You promised to tell me what was bothering you in the afternoon this evening”. She demanded
“I have no intention of failing to keep my promise”. He said with a grin.
“So what is it?”
“And why is that? Why can‟t we eat from it? Is the fruit that bitter?” she asked.
“I do not know. He called it the tree of knowledge of good and of evil. He even said that the day we taste of its fruits, we shall surely die.” He concluded.
“Death?” She sounded alarmed. “That sounds very serious.”
“Yes it is. I have never even gone near it before, not to talk of touching the tree or holding its fruit.”
“So, where is the tree?”
“That one right before us. Just beside the Euphrate,” he said, pointing to a tree a little farther than where they were.
“Can I have a closer look at it?”
“No. Not now. Nor ever. We shall not go near it, nor touch it.”
She felt disappointed as she lay back to take the fruits that Adams Strong brought to her. She really wanted to see the tree. She wanted to touch it, and perhaps, just taste it. She has no intention of eating it, but just to taste it to see how bitter it is. If Mr. Gracious Being asked Adams Strong not to eat, it should be very bitter, and she needs to confirm if it truly is. Adams Strong’s words reverberated in her ears as she moved closer to the tree. “We shall not go near it, nor touch it”, he had said, and he was emphatic about it. She looked around, but could not find him anywhere nearby. This, for her, could be a good opportunity to just feel the bark of the tree. She took few steps farther, and she was just one more step away from the tree. She looked around one more time to be sure he was not really seeing her.
Her heartbeat rate doubled, as though she was about to take a major decision in her life. Those words reechoed again: “We shall not go near it, nor touch it”. But here she was, so close to the tree, and nothing has happened yet. She summoned enough courage, took the last step, and was side by side with the tree. She was expecting something, a ghost or whatever to jump out of the tree, pounce on her and swallow her up. But nothing happened. Then she told herself, could this be a trick from Adams Strong to keep her away from one of the best fruits in the garden. The answer is only one more action away; touch the tree and pluck the fruit. She ran her hands on the back of the tree. She liked the feel. It felt strong and tough. The branches are low enough for her hands to reach. She convinced herself that she would not need to jump to get a feel of the leaves. She plucked the first leaf. She held it close to her nose to perceive the scent. She felt it in her brain as the fragrance sent cold chills down her spine. She went round it and plucked another leaf, and then another, and another. Nothing bad had happened to her yet. She wondered, but he said Mr. Gracious Being warned that we shall surely die, I have plucked three leaves but I am still alive. Could Adams Strong be hiding something from me?
“Afternoon Crafty”, she replied
“I could see you are really enjoying your stay here.”
“Oh yes. Thanks. It has been wonderful so far. Adams Strong has been a good company.”
“Oh, Adams is a nice guy. Everyone in Eden likes him. He is so jovial and nice to be with”
“You can say that again” she agreed.
“But how have you been coping with feeding.” Crafty Curl asked.
“And why did you ask?”.
“I thought I overheard Mr. Gracious Being telling Adams Strong not to touch any of the fruits in Eden East”.
“No he did not. We are free to eat from any of the trees. It is only this particular tree – the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – that we cannot eat from.”
“Why can‟t you eat from it?”