Elisha ogled at the fruit, so lost in wonder that she didn’t think to comment on its size. Her fingers traced through the air as though they were drifting along a riverbed without a current. The incessant singing of three hundred angels sounded in the Garden of Eden but she could not hear the song. She was completely mesmerized. Still, Elisha paused hesitantly, finding the strength to hold back from grasping the fruit but not having the strength to pull her eyes away.
“Careful, Elisha.” Her father, Enoch, warned pulling her from the trance. “The fruit is not meant to be fondled. It caused Eve and Adam great misery. Their poor choices led all mankind, including myself, to walk the surface of the world before our Lord God returned me to Eden.”
“Why did you bring me here…to this tree…if I cannot touch it?”
“You are of age, my angel, and have to be tested like every other within this place. You have to learn restraint. You must learn to ignore your human impulses if you are to remain in Eden.”
“And, what about mother?”
“True, your mother was not tainted like mankind, but she was cursed all the same. She could not remain here. Lilith was not human, you see?”
“What was she?”
Enoch started to speak and stopped himself. It was not the first time that his young half-blood daughter had asked him the question. He still did not have an answer. Angel? Demon? He could not be sure. Regardless, Elisha was a half-blood like so many before her. The girl was part human and part something else.
“I cannot believe that you laid with her after she had already been with Adam. It seems that such an act would have caused you to be cast from this place.” Her words were icy, nearly shrill. What was worse was that she did not even turn from the forbidden fruit.
“Lilith received the punishment she was due, Elisha. Our Lord God willed it. I could have never known what she had done before I came to Eden.”
A moment passed. In was an insufferable moment with Elisha captivated by the fruit and Enoch by his daughter.
Finally, Enoch rubbed his fingers together, “Fight the impulse, Elisha. Turn away from it.”
Elisha shuddered and licked her lips. She clearly did not want to follow the directive of her father. Slowly, she turned to look at Enoch, lowering her hand, “I know so little of my mother. Tell me of your human wife. What was she like?”
Enoch did not appear to pick up on the lofty tone of his daughter, “Edna was a fine woman in the way that most human women are, but she was not strong enough to stand against the giants. She wasn’t strong enough to follow me to Eden. Her death was just.”
“That is a terrible thing to say! She was strong enough to bear you three sons.”
“Each of which have joined the ranks of Azazel.”
Elisha scowled, her golden eyes glowed a fiery red, “Your sons…your wife…they could not have been so evil in their walks on Earth, father.”
“They have become Watchers! By definition, they are evil.”
Her voice trailed off with a compassionate undertone.
Enoch dipped his head in acknowledgement, emphasizing with his daughter’s kindness, “You mustn’t question the will of God, Elisha. Any creature, human or otherwise, that contradicts the will of God is evil.”
“But, would they have become so evil if God had not sentenced them to damnation?”
Enoch shook his head, “You ask dangerous questions, Elisha.”
A slithering voice from the tree responded, “She asks the questions that she is meant to ask, Enoch. Come and touch the fruit, dear Elisha. Be like Methuselah. Be like Elimelech. Be like Melca.”
Enoch shivered at the sound of his son’s names.
“Be like Lilith, dear Elisha,” the voice crooned with delight.
Elisha twisted to see the gigantic snake twirling down through the branches of the tree that held the forbidden fruit. The creature shimmered from color to color as though it being there could be as real as a dream and as false as reality. The serpent was as hypnotic as the fruit itself.
“What do you know of my mother?” Elisha demanded.
At the same time, Enoch cried out, discovering the strength of his voice, “Be gone, devil! You have already been flung from Eden once!”
“Have I?” The serpent hissed threateningly.
“What do you know of my mother?” Elisha said again with more intensity.
Again, Enoch talked over the top of his daughter, “The Lord God will not allow you to corrupt the goodness of this place. Be gone!”
Elisha felt a rage overwhelm her unlike anything she had ever felt before. Her body tensed, her eyes darkened, and she moved without thought. In a moment, she had taken a single step towards her father and struck out. He did not even have the opportunity to protest. Her fist collided with Enoch’s jaw, stealing away his consciousness. In an instant, the human man had collapsed in a heap.
The angels continued to sing as though nothing had transpired.
The snake rustled with excitement. Its long body flowed behind it in a wave of motion. It curled around in a circle taking in the sight of Elisha standing over the body of Enoch.
“What…” Elisha shivered, realizing what she had done, but pressing onward with her question, “What do you know of my mother?”
“I know very little of your mother, but the fruit will tell you all that you wish to know.”
“The fruit?” The words even sounded hollow on her tongue. Even with the question, it was clear what the snake was suggesting.
“Of course. One bite and the knowledge of all things will be granted to you. You will be forever enlightened.” Elisha took the fruit in her hand. The sound of the angels, her father, and even the snake disappeared from her senses.
“I will be cast from Eden if I eat from it,” she attempted to reason.
The response seemed to come inside her head, although it was clearly the serpent that was speaking, “What good is it to live in Paradise if you are ignorant to its true nature? You cannot appreciate goodness without knowing evil. You cannot know fear without knowing knowledge. You cannot live without knowing death.”
Barely a moment passed, and Elisha took a bite.
The juices were warm and satisfying. The liquid gushed across her tongue with a nectar as sweet as any she had ever tasted. Her golden eyes expanded as she swallowed and the world, her Paradise, was washed away.