I think of this story around this time of year, when our bushes hang heavy with berries.
Once upon a time
when I was a little girl,
we went to stay in the home of some friends in Virginia. When we arrived, our hosts showed us around and made us comfortable, in true Valley style. Then they warned us about the berries on the edge of the woods.
They look delicious, like blueberries, they said, but please don’t taste them. We think they are poisonous.
Very well, my parents agreed. Children, do you hear? Leave the berries by the woods alone.
I was only five years old. What do you think happened when I found myself alone?
The next thing I remember was that I stood in the open doorway of the house, looking up a flight of unfamiliar stairs at my mother. My very displeased mother.
Shari, she said. Did you eat those berries?
I hunched my shoulders and pressed my hands against the door frame. No, mom.
Shari. Look at me. I know you ate those berries; don’t lie to me.
Well, I got my rear end spanked for it and afterwards, I sat on the kitchen counter sniffling and eating cookie dough while our kind hostess cheered me up. It’s the only deliberate lie I remember telling in childhood.
When I was an adult, I asked my mother How were you so sure?
She said, BECAUSE YOU HAD BLUE ALL AROUND YOUR MOUTH.
So. No use blaming the world’s sins on Eve; I am an original sinner. Ate the forbidden fruit and lied about it. Didn’t even see the snake.
I wonder what died inside me?