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Today's Story by Mark Mizrahi

As with the story of Genesis this tale begins with an apple.

The Women We Love

The fault was never Eve’s. Nor the serpent’s. No. Adam was always the guilty party. He, of god’s image, who broke the promise made. Adam who disobeyed the word of the all mighty. Adam who was cast from the garden with his curiosity. Adam. Not Eve.

To piece together this curious morsel of knowledge took 15 years and spanned two countries. The first lesson occurred in the house of my youth. It was the sterile home of a rich family – large and august. The sort of monstrosity that dominates the hillside of Los Angeles. I was twelve at the time. A weakling youth trying to decipher the meaning of life in that odd and extended time of young manhood we have christened adolescence. I was, to say it kindly, a peculiar child. My imagination was more powerful than the menial trappings of reality. It was my form of escape. From what I was escaping is not entirely clear.

My mother was an old monied wasp – the perfect prototype of ice veins, martini blood, and pert lips that spoke with the severity of a Judge presiding over a murder trial. My father was a first generation Spaniard from the southern regions, and he owned the temper of his nationality as the tangible, explosive truth. That I shared a residence with such stereotypes hardly penetrated my self-indulgent cloak of fantasy. The only thing that did was my younger sister.

She was a precocious beauty four years my junior. Her smile was simple, easy, and came with a magic that, when given to you, made you feel like nothing mattered more than whatever it is you wished to say. Even at such a young age she struck me as an anomaly in our bloodline. Like one of the savants or saints capable of feats of compassion that remained etched in human lore. The years would prove me prescient – that is until the beautiful mess inside her overtook her and left her a quivering wreck. To put it simply, she wasn’t made for this world. And yet, she was my shield; as well as the conduit for the lesson I would complete 2,000 miles from where it was begun.

As with the story of Genesis this tale begins with an apple. I doubt that the apple which I had bit was laced with the drug of consciousness, as was that of the garden, but it was an apple nonetheless. When I did bite into the crisp sweet skin I didn’t suddenly run to my closet to cover my indecency. Instead, after an unsatisfactory bite, I returned it to the fridge crisper. There was no serpent to prod me further along in my consumption.

If we are to exonerate Eve and lay the blame of Original Sin upon her male companion it seems we can not ignore the world’s first hustler, the serpent. What role did this wily creature play? Perhaps the serpent was nothing more than a minion, acting as ordered to be a lustful voice to tempt God’s creations. God’s anger was perhaps a show, a ruse so as to not tip his hand. Or, perhaps, the serpent was but an innocent bystander – an observer who observed more than he should have. But, whatever variations we can concoct, it still accepts the traditional paradigm that Eve was our culprit. No, what we need is a new story not a new interpretation. We have enough of those as it is.

It is odd how a small part of our lives we forget can return with the force of a hurricane. I had thought I had left it all behind. Lord knows I did all I could to do just that. My passport and 4 countries would attest to that. Where I went was inconsequential. Wherever it was I wasn’t far enough. I wasn’t fast enough. I never learned the lesson. But that night, when the memories finally found me, I learned. At least I learned a lesson.

I was in Costa Rica at the time, in a small town that was the perfect snapshot of modern colonialism called Manuel Antonio. The town was an attraction for tourist due its blend of Beach and Rain Forest. The humans lived in the nooks somewhere in between. I liked the place. I always liked living in tourist towns because of the way in which everyone’s true human nature was put on display. It was that sense of coming and going, so pronounced in such a place, that let everyone feel free to allow themselves to unravel. After all, unless you were local, you always had a nest to return to and tighten back up.

The night of memories was at its core no different than any other. The boys and girls came out to play when the sun came down. I remember that year there was an influx of young swedish women. Every year there seemed to be a clan of white women who would come seeking a latin lover, adventure, and some sensation of ‘living.’ As if booze and sex in humid heat with the men who served their families at expensive hotels was a real form of discovery. I suppose it is, until most of them hit a certain age and returned home to find that elusive noose of respectability and security the western world has always cherished.

I only mention this because it was one of those Swedish girls who sent me rifling through my own chest of troubles. She, Josephine I think, looked like all the rest, and when did I speak to her she did little to change my mind. It was her sense of self while coping with a particular situation that got to me; that mix of naivety and stupidity and faith that must have (For even the saints are not free of fault) also belonged to my sister till it all broke down. The situations of the two were not the same. Josephine had wrapped herself into a love triangle that was amateurish at best. I imagine, though, that the brow beaten self worth Josephine possessed was probably the same wounded dove my sister had tried to revive when she was teetering on the edge.

I didn’t make that connection in the half-empty bar where I first met Josephine with another one of her blonde companions. No, I didn’t put it together until hours later, when I was alone on the beach staring into that vast unknown sea, after the flood of memories pierced my thin veil of drunken joy. I remembered the sound of my father’s voice, like the roar of a terrible beast, crashing through our home. Drawn by that fearsome noise the family gathered at the edges of the kitchen. He had discovered the the bitten apple.

I imagine God’s anger was something fiercer. This is, after all, a God willing to demolish his entire people for living up to the sins he created them for. The garden must have shook, each tree trembling at the breath of his voice. Adam & Eve must have been reduced to children. Cowering children, hiding their indecency and shamed at their misdeeds.

I don’t remember the words my father yelled. I remember the fear. How I shook with it. How the kitchen seemed to quake as well. And I remember the voice of my sister. Slow like honey, water for the deprived & dehydrated. So simple, so beautiful, so enchanting. So courageous.

“I did it.” Was all she said. Each syllable pronounced clear and unwavering.

With those words, like magic, the hard edges of the world melted. The room became light once more. Everything froze. His anger spent he simply looked at her with wild eyes and walked away.

Oh, yes, she had courage. I had none.

That is our new tale. It was always Adam who was first. First in creation, first in sin. Eve simply had more courage and took the blame. The serpent was merely collateral damage. It was Eve who shouldered the burden  – because in the end all parties involved knew that Adam never could.


Mark Mizrahi is once a soup opera, a scientist, a poet, a cook, and a conversationalist. He knows about sharks, ecology, and can wield a metaphor on a good days.

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