Matt Wootton

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Creative Writing – “The Temptation of Eve”

inspired by Olive Senior & Helen Klonaris at the Bahamas Writers’ Summer Institute, August 2010

It was morning, and our father busied himself about the house with making breakfast for Adam and I, getting ready his things for work.
The sun outside shone in through the glass doors, bathing the kitchen in a yellowy light. We tucked into our cereal as our father sipped his coffee and read – as he did every morning – his big newspaper.We were used to our morning routine. Soon, our father finished his drink and collected his things to go to work. He told us – as he did every morning –  “You kids look after each other and the house while I’m gone. You’ve got plenty of things to do and toys to play with; just whatever you do, don’t start reading my newspaper. OK?”

We nodded, as we did every morning – our mouths full of breakfast.

“Good boy, good girl”. He patted us each on the head, and with a scuffle of newspaper, a jingle of keys and a slam of the front door, he was gone.

Adam and I finished our breakfast cereal, and went out to play in the garden.
There was a whole world in the garden, and we loved it so much.

That day, the sky soon clouded over, and rain dripped in big soaking drops from grey clouds.

“Come on, Eve, let’s get indoors!” my brother shouted.

On the kitchen table, as we walked in, sat our father’s newspaper. It was a big, serious newspaper, but we had never read one before. Because he told us not to. It was folded, upside down, with our father’s coffee cup on top of it. I reached over and moved the cup aside, and turned the newspaper around toward me.

“Eve!” my brother hissed. “What are you doing!?”.

“I thought maybe I’d see what’s in the newspaper,” I said, calmly.

“But our father told us not to! He always tells us not to!”.

“Well, I’m only going to have a little look,” I replied. And with that I flipped the newspaper over and glimpsed the masthead on the front cover.

“Eve!” my brother insisted.

“Look, I don’t see what harm just looking will do,” I said. And with that I turned to the headline, and read.

“Prime Minister to address nation on the state of the economy” I read out loud. By that time, Adam was there too, standing next to me and peering over to read with me.

“If Labour can’t fight social injustice, what’s it all for?” said another headline.

We drunk the headlines and prose in, not understanding all, but soaking it up.

By lunchtime we had gained a rudimentary understanding of current affairs.
By tea-time we had gemmed up on global warming, the plight of the world’s poor, and what art we could see in London.

By the time our father came home, Adam and I had raided the wardrobe to dress ourselves in our best approximation of the latest fashions. We were rolling around with happy laughter, and I had baked our father an apple pie from the Food section. We were happy, and feeling like we knew more about our place in the world and what we could contribute. We wanted to make our father proud.

We thought he’d be happy, and pleased with us too.

He was furious. He smashed the dish with the apple pie straight out of the oven onto the hard floor; the delicious dessert splattered, steaming, squandered on the kitchen tiles.

He ripped off our new best clothes, smacked us until we were wailing with tears, and dragged us, screaming and crying, upstairs, half pulling out our arms.

Red-faced, he angrily hit us again before throwing us into our room and locking the door from the outside. Before he stormed downstairs, where we could hear him striking things, swearing and shouting as we cowered in our beds, he forbid me to ever do anything like it again, and told Adam that he was now in charge of making sure I always stayed in line. And he told us that we would be making our own breakfast from now on, the hard way, and that never again would we be allowed the privilege of playing in our sun-filled beautiful garden.

Adam blamed me for getting us both into trouble, and after always being the best of friends and companions, we never could get along without fighting after that day. There was always bitterness and lack of trust between us. That night, as our angry father quietened downstairs and Adam stopped bickering at and blaming me, I eventually cried my way asleep. I awoke in the dark with pains in my belly. My insides were churning and horribly tight, and I realised with horror that there was blood between my legs, and I had no idea from where. Not knowing if I was damaged or dying I cried uncontrollably, my mind reeling, desperately alone, and terrified; but neither Adam nor our father came to help or comfort me.

From the next morning onward, our father read a tabloid.

Matthew LJ Wootton