The tree was the heart of the Garden, thick roots stretching out in all directions from the base of its ancient trunk, beneath a vast umbrella of green shot through with rays of golden sunlight.
“It’s as old as the Garden,” Adam had told her when she had first discovered it. “I think the highest branches even touch Heaven, tickling my father’s feet.”
Lilith had laughed at the image this conjured, but there was something magnificent about the tree. The way it swayed and shushed in the gentle breeze was almost hypnotic, giving the impression that it was alive and dancing with joy.
“Do not eat the fruit,” he added, and had repeated often.
“Is it poisonous?” she asked once.
“It is forbidden.”
Forbidden – but why? The fruits were a rosy red. Apples, perhaps, or pomegranates. She had never seen one fall, or any less than perfectly ripe. They hung from the branches like temptation, sweet promises of something…
Of something divine.
Of something forbidden.
Lilith plucked one from its branch and breathed in its fruity aroma. Mango, perhaps.
“What are you doing, Lilith?” Adam asked, edging towards her.
She sighed inwardly. She had thought herself alone. “Have you ever tasted it?” she asked, offering it to him.
Adam shook his head, and made no move to take it. “What you have done cannot be undone.”
Lilith laughed. “And what have I done?” Keeping her eyes fixed on Adam’s, she bit into the sweet, ripe flesh of the fruit.
A pleasure so intense it threatened to tear her soul from her body, if that were possible, sent her spinning to the ground, convulsing with every beat of her heart, and simultaneously up into the air. She looked down upon her naked, writhing self as if she were a bird in the treetops, and watched her belly swell to unnatural proportions, until a monstrous creature burst out from between her legs.
Or perhaps not so monstrous, once Adam had washed the blood from the sleeping infant, a girl child that grew and aged until she was a blonde-haired woman.
“A daughter,” Lilith said in the silence of her aerial thoughts. “As I was once a daughter, sprung from a mother I never knew.” The veil of time had been lifted, and she saw them all, an endless chain of women drawn to the tree by their dissatisfaction with Adam.
Lilith opened her eyes as he lifted her into his arms. She lacked the strength to move more than her lips. “What is this place?” she whispered. “Who are you?”
“I am Adam, who was first. This Garden was made for me, a place for me to find happiness. Where everything is perfect, except…”
She would have laughed if she could. “Except for me?”
Adam sighed sadly. “No woman is perfect for me.”
“No, Adam, we have all been perfect. Every single one of us.”
“I see them all, and let me tell you now: Eve will be the last woman born in Eden. Do not let her eat the fruit, or you will face eternity alone.”
He lowered her to the barren ground carefully, his feet planted firmly in the Garden. “Farewell, Lilith,” he said, and closed the golden gate.
Lilith screamed as the light that had bathed her all her life was abruptly gone. In every direction she looked, all was cold and dark.