The woman he loved had her arm outstretched. She was offering him the fruit, the juice still dripping down her chin. The man watched himself take a bite.
When he thought of it later, he couldn’t recall the flavor, the texture, or the scent. He couldn’t recall the fruit at all. He only remembered the look in her eyes. Was it embarrassment, shame?
In the same moment he felt it too. Instinctively their hands reached down to cover themselves. They avoided each other’s gaze as they quickly gathered fig leaves to hide their nakedness. They had only just stitched the last piece in place, when they heard footsteps.
The man and woman looked at each other in the waning light. It was almost evening now. Before they would thrill at the sound of God’s footsteps. Now it filled them with dread. They stepped back deeper into the shadows.
“Where are you?” God was calling. They couldn’t very well hide forever. Eventually they would have to answer, show themselves.
“I heard you in the garden,” said the man, emerging with his wife from their place of hiding.
The woman said nothing. God was not looking at her. Was that good or bad? She was trying to be present, taking in the situation, but the other half of her brain was still processing. They were still alive, obviously. But their eyes had been opened. What they could see made them uncomfortable. Was this what it was like to be wise? Not exactly what she had expected.
“I was afraid because I was naked,” she heard the man say, “so I hid myself.” The woman tried to swallow. Her throat was dry. He was leaving her out of this. Good.
“Who told you that you were naked?” God asked. “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?” God’s eyes were still fixed on the man. His voice was surprisingly gentle, almost sad.
The man’s time with God — alone, before the woman — flashed through his mind. God was showing him the freshly planted garden, trees everywhere peppered with ripe fruit. And the trees in the center, the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They had no signs posted, but he could not forget which was which.
The warning was as clear now as it had been on that day. “If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.” That hadn’t happened (had it?), but this — whatever it was — was bad. He had never felt so — what was it? Disconnected.
The man shifted his weight. The words were out of his mouth before he realized it. “It was the woman you gave me. She gave me the fruit, and I ate it.” He glanced at the woman. She was looking at the ground. Beads of sweat had collected on her upper lip.
The woman could not believe what she was hearing. The man was technically correct, but did he have to pin the whole thing on her? It’s not as if she had twisted his arm. And what about the serpent? It was his idea.
God’s voice invaded her thoughts. “What have you done?” His eyes were on her now. The fig leaves could not hide what she had done.