Before Man existed within the Garden of Eden and gave Serpent his name, he was among the most devout followers of God. He flew among the birds and the cherubim, basking in God’s great glory on golden wings that bellowed from out of his long body. With every flick of his tongue, he tasted God’s beautiful creation and was thankful for it. Though Serpent had no arms or legs and the poorest of sight, he never felt anything but joy at being blessed with life. Serpent was gifted with an clarity of mind so that she felt more at peace with the angels than with the dull birds that she devoured. Serpent was the favored animal of the leader of the Cherubim, Kerubiel and she would fly cloaked in his divine and motherly light.
Serpent had one mate with whom he often found himself entwined in her powerful coils. Although Serpent loved God most of all, he knew that his mate was of God. Although he knew of the wonders beyond life, he equated her with life on Earth. When the sun hit his scales in the morning, he first prostrated himself to God, and he immediately after flew to her to writhe in the air, washed in the light of angels.
When Man was created, he was given the name Adam. He was to be the caretaker of the garden and all its creatures. For some time, he accomplished this task with ease, but Adam felt the need for companionship. God took out Adam’s rib to create Woman. God took mice from the garden and put them in Adam’s arms so he would be superior in strength. Then, he took Serpent’s mate to create Woman’s birthing canal. It was in these sacrifices that he made the differences between Man and Woman
Adam was given ownership of all the animals and was told to name them as he wished. Serpent was praying to God one morning as His light had begun to move across the leaves of the trees. Serpent folded in his golden wings, bowing his head to the dirt to prostrate himself to His creative power and boundless love. At that time, Adam came across Serpent and saw her praying.
“I will call you Serpent,” he said, which in the old tongue meant to crawl or creep around.
Serpent was shocked from her prayers. “But that name is not fitting for me!” she replied, showing Adam her impressive plumage. “See? I am a creature of the air. Now, perhaps you should rethink this name you have called me.”
“Too late!” Adam laughed. “The name has already been decided. Farewell, Serpent!”
Serpent could not believe that this slow-witted creature could be the ruler of all animals. For the first time in his life, Serpent began to question God’s plan.
Serpent went to Mouse to comfort him.
“I’m fine,” Mouse said. “The loss of my children was God’s will.”
“I wish I could share your conviction,” Serpent said, “but I’ve seen the man who is meant to dominate over us. He is a complete buffoon!”
“He’s dedicated, Serpent. This is something we mice know that you serpents do not. We work hard; you flit around without a care. Begone and don’t bother us anymore. I do not care for your blasphemy.”
Serpent was taken aback. “I’m not going against God; I merely wish to question his judgment. Will you not pray for an answer with me? Maybe together, we can understand why our kin had to die.”
“I already know why. It was God’s will. Go away, Serpent. Leave us.”
Serpent stared into Mouse’s pointed face. For a moment, he wanted to bite it off. This gave Serpent pause, because he was not hungry at all. “I’m sorry to trouble you,” he murmered before flying away. As he rose to the air, Kerubiel’s light felt uncomfortable. He flew closer to the ground, under the cover of the trees, though it did not abate his discomfort.
Serpent tried not to admit his anger, but he often foung himself hovering over Woman who held inside her his mate. He entertained thoughts of both sympathy and aggression, until finally he realized that Woman shared much of his lost mate’s traits. Woman was bursting with a passionate life energy but she was also the more level-headed than her male counterpart. Adam, Serpent decided, was choking on the power that God had bestowed upon him. Woman, on the other hand, could be reasoned with.
“Woman. Look up.”
“Oh. You startled me. It’s Serpent, right?”
“Yesss,” Serpent said through his teeth, a little perturbed.
“Adam isn’t very good at naming things, but he means well. He hasn’t even named me yet. I don’t think he knows what to make of me.”
“No. I suppose your mate isn’t very bright, is he?” They both laughed. Serpent couldn’t help but feel the need to get closer to Woman. He wrapped himself around her shoulders and could feel that inner warmth of his mate.
“That’s a little tight,” Woman grabbed at Serpent’s body.
Serpent loosened up his hold. “Sorry, it’s just that we used to…”
Woman looked at Serpent inquisitively.
“It’s nothing,” Serpent said, unraveling himself to fly in a halo around Woman’s head. “Do you know that I am on good terms with the angels here?”
“I have seen you flying with them before. You are truly a creature close to God.”
“I’m humbled, but you must know that all creatures are close to God. I am simply blessed with these wings so that I can bathe in the light above the trees.”
Woman nodded. “Of course. You must be very happy to receive such a favor.”
“Yes. I know that my wings are a gift, so I fly down to the earth to prostrate myself before Him and remain humble.”
“You are very wise, serpent. I have not been in the garden as long as you, so perhaps you can teach me more about God.”
Serpent tasted the air, thinking back to the taste of her mate and the conversations he’d had with angels.
“God told you could eat from any tree in the garden, correct?”
“Yes, all except for the tree in the middle. He said we would die if we ate it.”
“Die! No, indeed! Kerubiel told me of that tree. It is a tree that brings you a step closer to God, giving you the power to know the difference between Good and Evil.”
“Have you eaten from it, Serpent?”
“No. I have not. I have had these concepts explained to me by the Cherubim, but they also told me that I will never be able to comprehend it without experiencing them. Without that fruit, everything you do will have a great weight upon it, measured by God. Good moves toward God; Evil moves away.”
Woman was intrigued. “Then aren’t we all Good?”
“Very astute! That question has always stumped me, but Kerubiel said that there is no Good without Evil. I don’t understand it myself…”
“I’m going to go eat that fruit,” Woman laughed.
“Really?” Serpent said. “Let me know how it goes.”
She plucked the fruit from the tree. It was perfectly ripe, though she had to peel back the outside to get to the succulent juices within. When she took her first bite, she dropped the fruit to the ground.
“No. No, no, no!”
“What’s wrong? What happened?” Serpent was afraid he’d done something terrible.
“Get away! Don’t get any closer, you horrible creature!” She ran to the other side of the tree. “We’ve all done such horrible things! Horrible! We’ve killed! We’ve lusted! Oh!” She wailed in a noise of deep anguish Serpent had never heard before. Serpent respected her wishes, but mostly because he did not want to hear that noise anymore.
It wasn’t until nightfall that Woman finished weeping and did the most selfish thing she’d ever done: she brought her fruit to Adam, so that she would not suffer alone. He hid from her and they slept apart that night. Serpent watched over her.
That morning, when the light arose, God came upon Adam like he would a petulant child.
“Don’t look at me, Lord!” Adam cried. “I stand naked before you, having done Evil. I’ve displeased you!”
“Who did this to you?” God said. Adam pointed to Woman. Woman pointed to Serpent.
“I curse you, Serpent! You have disobeyed me and thus you shall live your life forever crawling on your belly, eating dust!”
Kerubiel descended from the heavens, bearing a sword of fire.
“Old friend,” Serpent cried. “You needn’t do this!”
“God’s word is eternal. You may not understand this, Serpent, but at least know that we all must follow orders.”
“No! You don’t!” And at this, Kerubiel scorched off Serpent’s golden wings. The hiss of burning flesh became one with Serpent’s own voice. Serpent hissed for the first time, a sign of anger at his betrayal by his closest friend.
“Furthermore,” God said. “You and Woman shall never know peace with one another. Her children will crush your head with their feet and you, in return, will strike back at their heels.”
God told Woman, “I have given you Serpent’s feminine energy, but you have misused it. Because of this, the act of childbirth will bring you great pain. You will desire only your husband and he will rule over you.”
God then said to Adam. “You did not listen to me and you ate from the Fruit of Knowledge. Cursed is the ground you now walk upon. I sacrificed Mouse for your physical strength. Now you will use it to toil at the ground and endure great hardships so that you may eat.”
Kerubiel chased out Adam and his wife and returned for Serpent.
“Know this, Kerubiel,” Serpent said. “I know not the feeling of Good and Evil, but you’ve told me enough. From now on, I shall feast on the young and the pure that you protect. Because of you, they shall know my wrath.”
“You’ve made your choice, then. Begone!” And with a flourish of his wings, Kerubiel banished Serpent from the garden. The blow unhinged Serpent’s jaw and he had to pop it back in place. The first thing Serpent did was find a mouse, bite into its face, and swallow it whole. Then Serpent ate its family. Mice don’t feel anything for lost loved ones, after all, so what did it matter? Serpent lay there, quietly digesting his meal and tasting the dust on the ground.