A tree with twisted limbs and knotted fingers stretched out towards the sky in a garish display. It stood above the other trees of the Garden, the trunk wide and lengthy. The bark clung in long strips, using the tree's congealed sap as an extra anchor. It emitted an alluring scent, reminiscent of cinnamon honey—a concoction to soothe an aching stomach.
Surveying above Eden's landscape, the yellow-gold disk stepped up to the apex of its daily routine. It watched as a storm of dust gathered just outside of the Garden's ivy-fenced domain. A silhouette of limbs, bones, and flesh took shape within the circling gale. A silvery cloud descended, whispering from the upper limits of sky, down to the earth, and into the formed body through the creature's gasping mouth.
Man took his first breath.
"Adam." The Creator's words echoed through the creature's mind. "I have created you. You, in my own image of mortal skin and bone, will live in here in Eden. I gave you the knowledge of speech, mobility, and perception. Use these gifts wisely, as I put a great deal of thought in your creation. Tend to the Garden, eat from the trees, and drink from the rivers."
The Creator paused, an echo in Adam's mind. A peculiar coldness prickled his skin, causing small mountains to rise on his arms.
"However, if you take from the Tree of Knowledge, the one tree forbidden to you, you will suffer a terrible fate—one that I cannot save you from. Is that understood, Adam? Can you comprehend the magnitude of what I am telling you?"
The sun pushed the clouds away, causing an intensity of heat that erased the bumps on Adam's flesh. He rubbed his arms as he sat up and propped his body upright. He nodded, furrowing his brow in the process. The head bobbing action felt instinctual, like a symbol of understanding. A wordless yes. A grunt of approval wafted through his mind; the Creator was pleased.
Adam had been holding his breath. He released the pent up air from his lungs, then refilled them with a loud gasp. Exhaling once more, he varied between steady and unsteady streams of air. Amidst the testing, a hiccup escaped from Adam's throat. Eyes wide and cheeks flushed, he slapped his hand across his mouth. Muffled by his palm, the next hiccup caused his body to jerk forward.
He removed his hand and tested his vocal cords. Whimpers turned to groans. Groans turned to words. Words received their meaning.
"What is wrong with me?" Adam asked.
Nothing. The Creator gave no answer. Adam hiccupped another plea.
He nipped at his lip and waited. Still no answer. Sighing, Adam surveyed his body. His eyes swept across his arms and stopped at his hands. He tightened them into balls and squeezed until his knuckles turned white. Thoughts overwhelmed him as he glanced at the rest of his body.
"What should I do?" he whispered.
He released the tension from his fist and placed his hand on the ground. Fingers horizontal and palm vertical, he pushed himself up. Wobbling, he adjusted to the new position. Adam picked up his right foot and placed it forward; he matched the position with his other foot.
Man took his first step.
Adam surveyed the land of Eden until the golden disk—the sun, as Adam called it—retreated behind the distant landscape. A bright, dusky orb replaced the sun's perch in the sky, casting pearlescent rays onto the earth.
"The Moon," whispered Adam. "Luna, daughter of my Creator." The word, daughter, felt right.
"What is a daughter, my Creator?" Adam let out an unsteady stream of air and looked at the shimmering moon above him.
Resonating, the connection formed in his mind. "Soon, my son." The connection between Adam and his Creator detached. It felt too soon to Adam, too abrupt.
Adam felt empty. His fingers drifted across his stomach; he watched his fingertips prod the soft skin, noting the lack of physical change by using his gifts of touch and sight. His eyebrows furrowed. A sound, foreign and deep, erupted from the emptiness.
The hairs on Adam's neck stood straight, and his mouth felt dry. What feeling was this?
A pleasant scent curled under his nose. His eyes darted to a tree at his right. Large orbs, golden like the sun, clung to the branches. They were vivid even in the darkness. His eyes widened, mouth upturned. "A tree filled with… oranges." The name felt right. For the— "Fruit." Yes, the fruit.
Arms outstretched and hands grasping, he pulled a branch towards his chest and plucked an orange from the tree.
A blush tarnished his cheeks. "Sorry—and thank you." Did it hear him? The tree did not reply. Adam stared at the trunk, eyes focused just below the sprouted branches. He ground his teeth and tapped his foot against the ground. "Fine, I won't take anything from you again, Orange Tree."
Feeling defeated, Adam stalked away from the rude orange tree. He looked across the Garden and saw a different sort of tree. Most of them crawled on the ground, though some borrowed fruitless trees for support.
Still clutching the orange in his hand, he tiptoed towards one of the climbing—vines, Adam decided. Their fruit was small. "Gathered together for warmth," Adam thought. Their color resembled some of the younger grasses just outside the Garden. Green orbs, about size of Adam's thumb.
He pulled one from the bunch, but it wouldn't let go. He gripped the green ball and tugged. Pop—the fruit burst and its juices covered his fingers. Adam gasped and dropped the now-mushy fruit. He shuffled back a couple steps, eyes wide and heart pounding.
An apology leapt from his throat. He waited, teeth clenched. The vines shivered in the breeze, but no sound escaped them. Adam took a step forward and studied the small tree. He decided, in wait, that they were not trees at all. "You're a plant, I think. You little fruits—grapes." He tried to laugh, but it came out as a groveling mess of sounds. "Too young to talk. Maybe. You haven't gotten to be like those oranges yet. You'll get as big as my fist someday. Then, maybe you'll talk to me." Adam managed a small smile. "I'll be more gentle next time, okay?" He nodded and walked away from the grape vines.
Feeling satisfied, Adam strolled to the entrance of the Garden. He sat down at the threshold and looked at the orange in his hand. He placed the fruit between his lips. His tongue darted out and tasted the surface. Teeth poised, he nibbled at the fruit's taut skin.
Nothing. He pulled the orange from his mouth and glared at it. An indention marred the fruit's skin, but none of the fruit was in his mouth where it should have been. He poked it with his fingernail and pushed. After he withdrew his fingernail, a cut remained.
Growling, Adam threw the orange against a tree. It hit the trunk with a thud and rolled back against the ground. He looked at the fruit as it stopped moving, noticing a deep gash on the impact point.
Adam scooted across the dirt and grabbed the damaged fruit. He examined the light-colored flesh that peeked out from the orange's skin. Fingering the gash, he decided to tear the orange's skin off. Piece by piece, Adam tore the skin from the flesh. His lips quivered as the smell, intensified with the exposed flesh of the orange, wafted through his nose.
He pulled the fruit into their natural segments and placed them against his legs. The final piece found its way into Adam's mouth. Citrus exploded against his tongue as he chewed. Well, he thought the taste was citrus. No—it was citrus. Adam was sure of it.
As Adam finished his final bite of the orange, he stood up and sighed. His stomach felt satisfied, his body was exhausted from his first day of use, and yet he already felt a sense of boredom.
"What now?" he moaned, his voice carrying into the wind.
Adam awoke to silence. No wind, no rustling of leaves, no voices. He considered calling to his Creator, but his mind told him that he would not receive a response. He also considered talking to the grape-children, but his mind also told him that he would not receive a response.
Children. The word echoed in his mind. It pushed and prodded his tongue. He knew that a word existed for these sorts of things (son, daughter, child, father), but he wasn't sure he could recognize it. His brain still ached from yesterday's knowledge.
Father was another new word, one that floated in his sleep-thoughts. "Dreams," Adam told himself. He shook his head—too much to remember. But Adam remembered his Creator in these dreams. His Creator looked much like Adam, but older. The wrinkles were permanent, the hair was gray, and the sun-blotches were splattered on his cheeks, hands, and shoulders. His Creator, in the image of flesh and bone, named Himself Father.
"Who is my mother?" Adam had asked, knowing the word was correctly placed.
And his Father had replied, "The earth."
Adam had wrinkled his brow and clutched his thigh. "What is the earth?"
Laughing, his Father had said, " Where you live, my son. Earth is the Keeper of Eden, of the Garden, and of entirety of this world."
Light had burst through the dream's landscape after that, and it had pulled Adam from his sleep-thoughts and into his day-thoughts. That was when he rose to the sounds of… nothing.
Adam sat up and scanned the area around him. Pieces of orange skin were scattered around him. Feeling the familiar emptiness in his stomach, Adam decided to visit his grape-children.
"Hello, children. I told myself that I would come back today. I wanted to taste you, but I'll be gentle this time."
Hand grazing the vine leaves, he stretched his fingers around a plump grape. Pulling—but not squeezing—Adam succeeded in detaching the green fruit from its group. Mouth agape, he examined it, rolled it in his palm, and then plopped it into his mouth. His teeth bit into the center and collided with a hard center. Tasting the tart juice, he moved the mushy grape around on his tongue, enjoying his grape by eating around the middle.
Adam spit the hard piece on the ground. Using his toes, he pushed it into the earth.
"Now, you'll grow."
His vision drifted to the grape bunches. An idea surfaced. He stepped over the area of planted seed and grasped at a large cluster. Using his fingernail, Adam cut the grapes from the vine.
Their surfaces felt warm and smooth in his palm. He pulled—one by one—and stuffed them into his mouth. After some chewing and maneuvering, Adam successfully ate the entire bunch. Savoring the tinge of juice on his tongue, the seeds were left, forgotten on the ground at his feet, and Adam dashed towards the river. He felt thirsty.
Collapsing by the river's edge, he peered into the water and gazed at his reflection. He had looked at it only once before—yesterday during his first survey of the land. The image had intrigued him. Smiling, Adam remembered how he reacted yesterday. His mind focused the memories; his mouth was agape, his eyes were wide, and his vocal cords were straining with sound. He had reached forward and dipped his fingers into the water. The face rippled away with touch, and Adam had leaned forward to inspect the image that replaced the old one. Too far—Adam lost his balance. Sprawling forward into the river, he flailed as it engulfed him.
Rhythm took time to establish, but he soon figured out how to hover in the water. Adam coughed and sputtered as he kicked his legs and rotated his arms. After he regained control, Adam realized that his memory wasn't a memory after all. He had repeated yesterday's event.
Laughing, he crawled out of the river and lay down at the grassy embankment. He cupped his hand and dipped it into the water. Slurping, Adam downed the cool liquid. And as he felt the water caress his throat, satisfaction filled his stomach.
Blessings of euphoria.