The Why

This short story is better read aloud. I “published” it in an artist’s book with handmade paper and an ink transfer method.

The Why
A Parable

In the beginning there was only wonder. Everything was as it was, new and wonder-full.
Then the apple incident occurred and nothing was ever the same.

* * *

The serpent walked to the Garden’s gate, the words of success on the tip of his ripe round tongue. The wife did just as you said she would, oh Lord. It was easy. He licked full ruby lips, rubbing his hands together with a sense of accomplishment,  I am ready for my reward, he thought.

He was rendered speechless barely two syllables into his report.

“The wi—,” he stumbled, forcing the last breath out with a flick of his now-forked tongue.

The sanctimonious serpent surveyed and reviled his new form. Stripped of features so soft and lovely, barren of limbs to assist his proud gait, forced silent by the will of his Master, he slithered beneath the brush to consider.

He had every intention of reclaiming his place. He was a dedicated servant. Had he not taunted the nude woman into sin and shame? Had he not tricked the naïve man into traitorous behavior? Surely there was more work to be done in the Lord’s name.

Shock became anger became desperation as night fell outside the garden. The serpent grew sluggish in his unprotected form. He curled tightly, pressing into the earth for remnants of warmth.

Dawn brought the glory of sunshine and perhaps redemption.

The serpent swallowed his disgust, screwing up enough courage to confront his boss. He slid from beneath the foliage, forced his abdominal muscles taut, and raised his head high. He swayed in effort, and at his pinnacle, began pleading. A soft “ssssss” was all that escaped. He tried again, focusing on pronunciation and articulation. His tongue betrayed him and all he got in return for his efforts was the scent of human disgrace.

Man had held such promise. The best of all garden tenants. But he knew not his place. Free will, the Lord had bequeathed. When that alone failed to draw man into sin, the serpent had been sent as additional persuasion. What good was God’s greatest creation if it knew not its debt to its maker?

Lidless eyes begged for salvation but his Master had turned his attentions to the other garden exiles. This misfortune had awakened them to the reality of their existence. Suddenly they needed forgiveness and guidance and faith.

Having served his purpose and punished for it, the serpent realized the seat beside the Lord had always been reserved for man. Deceived and damaged, he cursed his idol through the only means he knew, His most precious creation.

The wi… he thought, returning to his last verbal release. The word shall haunt man for all eternity. A punishment on God’s children beyond God’s will itself. A penalty for all of mankind with no cause and no cure.

Wars are fought, generations slaughtered.

Earthquakes and hurricanes swallow and blow.

Cancer, crime, ignorance, intolerance, fear and famine.

Why?

Exactly.

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