Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Prompt: Guardians of the Tree

Jostain holds the apple in his hand, pulling enough for the branch to sway down, but not enough to tear the stem. If it breaks free, if he pulls just a little harder, he will be a dead man. But first, oh, but first, he could taste it. All of it. Standing guard around the tree, we all watch. And wait. And wonder.

Did Eve pull the apple loose? Did the snake coil around and squeeze it free for her? Did she give a morsel to Abel before he died? How did she and Adam survive the madness? Were they immune, the original innocents? Standing guard around the tree, we watched. And waited. And wondered.

We are the last sons of Cain. We guard the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The knowledge of everything that is in the world. The knowledge that drives men mad. Knowledge worth sacrificing our lives to protect. Knowledge worth dying for. We guard the tree with the promise of a taste on our dying lips.

But some forswear. If the knowledge drives men mad, the possibility of knowledge does even moreso. Jostain, second only to his father, Lesteth, Leader of the Guardians, broke the circle this morning and walked under the tree. Standing guard around the tree, we watched. And waited. And wondered.

We do not guard to keep people from the tree. Only to keep those who taste the knowledge from leaving. From carrying that knowledge, that burden, that madness out into the world.

We wait for Jostain to choose. If a Guardian decides to taste the fruit of the tree, his oath demands he sacrifice his own life. With a swing of his arm, Jostain pulls the apple free and up to his mouth. He takes a big bite, chews with relish. His eyes grow wide, the pupils darken. His face goes still, his hand falls down, the apple drops to the earth. It shrivels and rots in seconds, disintegrating into the bare dirt. No leaves fall from the tree.

Jostain’s face lightens with a smile of pure joy. He pulls his dagger from its sheath, presses the blade against his neck. Standing guard around the tree, we watch. And wait.

Lesteth turns his head. Weakness? Sorrow to lose his only son? With no change in expression or posture, Jostain throws the knife into his father’s heart…


And so, with a loving heart, I offer you
I’ve heard many translations. Here’s my favorite:
The light of the universe that shines within me recognizes
the light of the universe that shines within you.


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