Adam was working in the poly tunnel, and Eve was picking plums. ‘I wish you’d go away,’ she said, as the snake slid around her feet. ‘I don’t know why God put you in here – everything else is nice, and you’re just a nuisance.’
‘That’s harsh,’ said the snake. ‘I’m not doing any harm.’
‘Yes, you are. You keep banging on about the Outside World and how wonderful it is. We’re really not interested, we’ve got everything we need here. This place is perfect – why would we want to go anywhere else?’
‘You only think it’s perfect because you’ve got nothing to compare it with. You think you look perfect, but believe me, you don’t. The naked human body isn’t a pretty sight. In the Outside World you could cover it up with pretty clothes and makeup. You could even have cosmetic surgery to tighten up that sagging belly and make your boobs bigger.’
‘Oh, go away!’ said Eve, kicking out at the snake. ‘You’re so rude! No wonder we don’t want you here.’
‘Only saying,’ said the snake, and slithered off.
He didn’t stay away for long. Eve was still picking plums when he came back.
With an apple.
‘Where did you get that?’ she said. ‘There’s only one apple tree in this garden, and no one’s supposed to touch it.’
‘A ridiculous rule, if you ask me,’ said the snake, with a sneer. ‘What’s so special about that Tree?’
‘God said we mustn’t eat its fruit,’ Eve said primly.
‘Did he tell you why we mustn’t eat it?’
‘No. But –’
‘Don’t you just hate that? When someone tells you not to do something, and when you ask why, they just say “because I said so”?’ It’s so patronising. It just makes you want to do it all the more. I bet you’ve been dying to taste a nice juicy apple off that Tree, haven’t you?’
‘Not in the least,’ lied Eve. ‘Anyway, it’s a test, isn’t it? To see how obedient we are. If we disobey God, we’ll be punished. We’ll have to go and live in the Outside World.’
‘I still don’t want it,’ said Eve, but her mouth was watering. Apple was the only fruit she’d never tasted. She was eaten up with curiosity, and the sort of craving you get for something you’re not supposed to have.
‘You do want it,’ said the snake. ‘And what’s the harm? God never told you not to eat an apple from Tesco, did he? Just not from that Tree. So go on, have a bite!’
With a quick, furtive movement, Eve grabbed the apple and bit it. Her face sagged in disappointment. ‘It’s not very nice,’ she said. ‘Sort of floury. And mushy.’
The snake shrugged. ‘That’s supermarkets for you. Anyway, at least now you can say you’ve tried an apple – and you’re still here.’
At that moment, Adam came on the scene. ‘What are you doing?’ he cried, when he saw the bitten apple in Eve’s hand.
‘It’s OK, it’s not from the Tree,’ she said. ‘It’s from Tesco.’
‘Oh,’ said Adam. ‘Give us a bite, then.’
She handed him the apple, and he bit it. ‘It’s a bit floury,’ he said. ‘I can’t stand a floury apple.’
‘What d’you mean? You’ve never eaten an apple before, floury or otherwise.’
‘Of course he has!’ said the snake, with a grin. ‘I’ve been smuggling in Tesco apples for your man for a while now.’
Eve turned furiously on Adam. ‘And you’ve been all holier-than-thou about not eating apples!’
‘Only from the Tree,’ he said, putting up his hands. ‘Anyway, I’m sick of this place, it’s boring. I want to go to the Outside World. I want to wear a designer track suit, and have my teeth veneered, and drive a powerful car, and get drunk and play video games.’
‘YOU SHALL HAVE YOUR WISH!’ came a terrible Voice from the sky.
And that’s how we ended up in this mess.