– Fiction by Catherine Hammond –
I used to be a fig. I was every fig on every fig tree. In the morning the sun woke me. In the afternoon the rain fed me. Under the watchful moon I grew.
When weary travelers reached for me, the wind whispered in their ear. Have faith in this fig’s power. Each swallow will make you stronger. So men and women loved me, and I loved them. I was everyone’s favorite fruit.
Then some men gathered in a secret nave and wrote a story about a man named Adam and a woman named Eve, and they changed me to an apple. An apple!
Those reckless writers warned the man and the woman not to eat me. They said I’d doom the world with all I knew about good and evil. How silly. Surely, the man and woman would know it is right to share water but wrong to steal it. They would know that soaking in the sunshine is good, but blocking it from another is not. Even a fruit knows these things.
Yes, I know good from evil. I have seen travelers share their barley brew with thirsty strangers, and I have felt the steam of cheating lovers as they roll beneath my tree. But the world’s wisdom does not quiver inside a fruit.
Knowledge rushes through the bushes, shaking every leaf. It bangs against the shore, spraying droplets on the rocks. When the man and woman come for me, the taste of my flesh will change nothing. In time, they will learn why rivers run and mountains rise, why songbirds sing, why people cry. Everything there is to know they’ll know.
What matters is the desire.
Eve appears. I test her by making myself look spoiled and sickly. When she snaps me off and puts me to her mouth, I applaud. The first step is the hunger. Then Adam arrives. I lean back on my branch to see how much he wants me. With his bite, I feel an instant of delight.
Eden smiles and grows greener. Fresh leaves unfurl. Sunlight fills the empty spaces. The wish to know, the urge to grow, it makes the forest shiver.
Stop, the pious penmen howl, we won’t allow it. They send lightning. They make the thunder clap.
We know too much, we’ve gone too far, the man and woman whisper behind a branch.
No, I say. There is no sin in knowing. It’s the other way around.
We’re naked, the woman cries.
We’re vulnerable, the man yells.
That’s how love starts, I shout so they can hear me through the tempest.
Reaching out is wrong, the wicked writers rage.
Reaching is the only way, I say.
But my voice is lost among the trees. Adam and Eve bow down to the charlatans. The liar writers win. All those bitter little godmen.
And so man and woman go forward with the children of their children, leaning on their borrowed books of babble, hunting witches, chopping off the hands of hungry men, teaching religion with shrapnel. So many hearts of rubble.
Yet coins drop in tin cans. Blood flows from giving veins. Minds and bodies work together to keep the lost alive. I’m not surprised. You are the knowing and the unknowing, the growing and the ungrown. You are the leaves, the waves, the way, same as me, true bounty of the tree.
About the Author – Catherine Hammond
As a school principal and a mother of four young adults, Catherine Hammond enjoys trading all kinds of stories. Her flash, short stories, and novellas have appeared in various publications. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her on the water with a fishing pole.
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