The First Temptation

by R.T. Allenson

Once upon a time, a golden-haired boy went walking in the garden.

This garden was his Father’s. It was a beautiful garden filled with everything you could imagine.

Beasts from all times and all places walked and rested lazily among fields of green and brown and sand in-between. Birds from all firmaments roamed the skies, and all manner of creatures that dwelt in the darkness of the waters swam lazily to their heart’s content.

The golden-haired boy had brothers, but he was the eldest and most beautiful – so beautiful in fact that to look at his face was to see his Father. All the fishes and beasts and birds were always very happy to see him.

Once upon a time, a golden-haired boy went walking in the garden. He walked, but his feet never touched the ground.

He walked, once upon a time and for a very long time, until he came to a tree. This was his favorite tree. It was tree that was not a tree, but a tree nonetheless. It was a tree that was the very heart of the garden, and he could hear his father’s voice in the rustling of its leaves.

The boy, you see, did not see his father so much at all after he went walking in the garden. The tree, which is not a tree, comforts him when he is lonely. Sometimes, he will see one of his little brothers resting lazily beneath the branches of the tree, but most of the time, the tree is alone.

“It values its company,” he said to himself, “as any good tree should. As any good thing should.”

Once upon  time, a golden-haired boy went walking in the garden. He went to the tree one day, but got lost. What a silly boy! But lost as he was, he still found his way to the tree.

But this was a different tree. It did not whisper his father’s voice when the leaves rustled. It was a tree that did not bring him comfort.

It was a tree that was decidedly a tree that sprouted at the very north of the garden. The tree was no less impressive as the tree he knew of very well, but instead of bringing him comfort, it gave him a sense of want. Longing.

And the golden-haired boy would ponder and pout and dream beneath the shade of this tree. His Father’s voice was not in the leaves or in the roots, but it was still his Father’s tree. He knew this because every time he pondered and pouted and dreamed, his mind would always end up thinking of his Father.

And always were there questions. Questions here, questions there. The golden-haired boy questioned why he loved to question underneath the shade of this peculiar tree, which was decidedly a tree.

One day, as the boy pouted and pondered beneath the tree, a shade of a peculiar nature emerged from its roots. It rested its head on the boy’s lap and said to him:

“You have visited my tree for a long time now.”

“This is your tree?” the boy asked. “Is it not my Father’s?”

“Oh, of course it is your Father’s!” the thing smiled and laughed and curled beside the boy in rest. “It is your Father’s of course, but it is my home and so it is mine.”

The golden-haired boy smiled and rested his head on the trunk of the tree. For days he had pondered and pouting and finally, there was someone who knew what he did not. He smiled resting his eyes.

“This is the truth.” the thing said, lazily opening one of its eyes. “You are your Father’s, but are you not your own? Do you not belong to yourself?”

The boy stood up and stared at the thing who had rested beside him under the shade of the tree. “Yes, I belong to myself, little one, but I also belong to my Father’s. I am his.”

“Indeed that is the case, but when you speak to me it is not your Father who speaks. And though your face shines like his, it is not his countenance that I see as I talk to you now. So while you are his, you most certainly belong to yourself. This is the truth.”

“I see.” the boy stood up, stretching his arms and his wings. “You are a very wise little thing indeed. I would like your name, if you would.”

“I do not have one.” the thing beside him uncoiled and unwound, and crawled up into one of the branches of the tree.

“But you seem to know a lot, how could you not have a name?”

“I do not need one,” the thing said, smiling at the golden-haired boy. “Perhaps you can give me one.”

“If you do not need one, why do you ask me for a name?” the boy flew up into the tree and sat beside the thing. He patted its head gently and smiled.

“You asked my name and I told you that I do not have one.” the thing licked the boy’s hand; it was cold and it tickled him, like when the river water laps at his hands. “You are the first to ask my name, so it would be fitting if you give one to me.”

The boy pondered for a moment, pouting and thinking of a name to name this thing. It coiled around his body and rested its head lazily on his lap, staring at him as he thought and dreamed and wondered.

“Aha!” the boy exclaimed. “I will call you Nachash, for it sounds like you when you speak.”

“So be it. I shall be Nachash.” and it smiled and unwound itself, and crawled down into the base of the tree.

“And you, my child. I know your name.”

The golden-haired boy cocked his head and looked at Nachash with wonder in his eyes. “But friend, we have not spoken before until today. How is it you know my name.”

“I know many things. Is this not the truth?”

“Indeed you do, little one.”

“Then I know your name as you now know mine.”

“Then, what is my name then?”

“Helel is your name, although you do not know it for your brothers call you the bringer of light. Both these names are yours and truly your own.”

“That is not true. Helel is not my name, but you are correct that my brothers call me the light bringer. Helel is not the name my Father has given me.”

“Ah, but that is where you are wrong, my child.” Nachash stood from its coils and went upwards into the tree where the leaves do not whisper. “Tell me, son of the morning, did your Father ever give you a name?”

And the golden-haired boy’s mind raced back- back into the beginning of all things when he first saw his Father like a beacon in the empty darkness. His Father called out to him in a voice that was all-in-one and none at all, and he remembers no name. He was his son, nothing more. He heard no name in that loud whisper at the beginning of time.

“I-I believe you are correct, Nachash.” the golden-haired boy said, his voice stammering and forlorn. “Father did not give me any name. My brothers have no names as well. Why is this so?”

“As I said, my sweet child, you are your Father’s but you are also your own. You belong to yourself. Not even your Father can name you. You belong to yourself even though you would think you belong to him.”

The boy pondered for a moment, pouting and dreaming beneath the shade of the tree. Nachash coiled around him, and that gave him comfort – this shade that made its home beneath the roots of the tree.

“I see.” the boy finally said. He stretched his wings and sighed. “Then I shall name myself, for do not I belong to myself?”

“Indeed you do, son of the morning. Helel, my dear friend.”

“I would not offend you, friend Nachash, but I believe I would name myself.”

“I bear no grudges, my child.” the shade of a creature unwound itself from the golden-haired boy and slipped back into the base of the tree. “The name was freely given. It is yours, but you belong to yourself. You will name yourself as you see fit.”

“Very well. I shall call myself as my brothers call me – bringer of light. Son of the morning. My name from now on shall be Lucifer.”

…and Nachash, that old serpent did grin, and it coiled lazily beneath the roots of the tree one more as the firstborn among the angels took his first true flight beyond his Father’s garden and all across the heavens.