Sunday, June 18, 2023

The Legend of the Tree of Good and Evil: The Story of Julia Genesee (LEGENDS part one)

“Where did this come from?” Mr. Jacob Genesee called to his 14-year-old daughter, pulling up a young tree at its roots. “Julia, did you replant the tree-shoot that I picked and threw into the trash yesterday?”

“No, dad,” Julia responded from the kitchen, eating oatmeal for breakfast. “I don’t go digging through the trash. I could get germs!”

“Well, honey, someone replanted it,” her mother Claire explained, examining the mysterious regrown baby tree. “This is as bad as having a weed that never dies!”

“I think we got it this time,” her father insisted, throwing it into the trash bin and pushing dirt over the hole where it once grew. 

 “Why does everyone have to be so mean?” Julia questioned, slouching in her chair and brushing her chestnut brown hair from her shoulders. “Our little town of Humansville has so many problems. I would have liked to climb its branches one day. I want this town to be a better place to live,” she wished. 

“You’re so idealistic,” her mother chided. “You need to be more realistic.”

“Realistic, pragmatic, practical,” her father instructed in a firm tone. 

“I realistically wonder what today will bring when I have one less tree to sit under for shade,” Julia snapped. “Maybe you can figure it out for me. I’m only in the eighth grade.”

Her parents decided not to respond to her smart-aleck comments.

As she headed off to school, it started raining, one drop at a time, which fogged her glasses.

Later that day, when she returned home, she found a full-grown tree in her backyard with a huge trunk. Green leaves and red, juicy apples hung from the tree branches. A dripping wet player piano sat next to it, making haunting music.

“Is this a joke?” Julia whispered in disbelief. “Mom . . . Dad . . . you can stop your tricks now! I know you thought I was upset about you pulling out the tree-shoot, but really . . . this is a bit much. Where did you get this gigantic tree? What’s with the piano?”

Julia plopped herself beneath the shady branches. “I guess there’s nobody home,” she figured out, dozing off for a nap. 

When she woke up, her parents and her 12-year-old, sandy blond-haired brother Nathan gawked at her beneath the awkward tree in the backyard. The player piano crooned melodies in the minor key.

“Young lady, what did you do this time?” her father ridiculed her, as eerie music played from the piano. 

“What?” she snapped, waking up from a deep sleep, slowly remembering the addition of the tree in her backyard. “What did I do? No, what did you do? You can’t blame me for this!”

“I definitely didn’t plant this!” Claire, her mother, quipped, touching its trunk to make sure it was real. “This music is so strange. Does the piano play automatically?”

“Maybe this is a hoax from the neighbors, like an early Halloween,” her brother suggested. “We really never got along with them anyhow.”

            “Halloween isn’t for months, and I’m hungry,” Julia moaned, grabbing a gorgeous, shiny apple from the tree, biting into it. As she was about to take another bite, her dog, Meatloaf, ran from the house and barked, knocking the apple from her hands onto the ground. 

Her family watched worms crawl from the once pristine fruit. Julia swallowed hard, and Meatloaf kicked the rotten apple under a bush. 

“Aren’t the glistening apples beautiful?” her mother bemused as her eyes became blinded.

“Julia must have just picked a bad one,” her father was sure, following her mother’s lead. “One bad apple can’t spoil the bunch!”

“I’m so curious,” her brother pondered, handing the apples to his parents before he bit into one. “Mine doesn’t have worms. It’s really fresh.”

“I don’t know,” Julia doubted, rubbing her head. “I have a stomachache from just one bite.”

“We might as well have apples for dinner tonight,” her father planned rashly. 

“Better than the produce aisle at the grocery store,” her mother suggested, overcome with the deception of the fruit. 

“Almost organic,” her brother reasoned. “We don’t use pesticides.”

Feeling sick from the apples, Julia attempted to find an off button on the player piano, sitting down in the front of it. 

“There doesn’t seem to be a way to control this instrument. It just keeps playing and playing on its own,” Julia determined after a minute or so, watching her family enjoy the apples. “Oh, maybe I did just get a bad one.” Not thinking of the consequences, she grabbed another apple and sunk into it.

After a full meal of apples, the family went to bed for the night, and the player piano performed its creepy music without interruption, fast melodies, and then slow ones, changing keys and time signatures. 

“I have a bigger stomachache than I did before the second apple,” Julia yawned to herself. “I feel like it is Halloween. Maybe I should wear a costume to school tomorrow.”


“Wow! I feel like a superhero,” Julia felt amazed, gazing at herself in the mirror the next morning. With bulging muscles, she stood taller in stature and stronger in form than ever before in her entire life. “I must have superpowers from the apples!” she called to her family, running into the driveway, and lifting the family car into the air. 

“I’m stronger than a quarterback!” Nathan declared, throwing the football to the end of the neighborhood street without a whim. 

Through the front window, Julia watched her mother and father rearrange the dining room furniture in minutes. “We decided to try a new look,” Julia’s mother explained as her children walked through the front door, accidentally slamming it, and breaking its frame. 

“Be careful,” her father scolded, looking at the damage. “I’ll fix the cracks later.”

“Who cares about the broken door?” Julia asked, flexing her muscles. “I look like a sports model. The apples did this for us!” She ran to the tree and grabbed an apple with worms crawling from it for breakfast. Despite the rancid taste, she only felt its power. 

The rest of the family ran to eat more apples as Meatloaf barked in warning. 

“If I make applesauce, we can eat handfuls of fruit at once,” her mother suggested. “Our powers will increase exponentially.”

“We were meant to have this power,” her father insisted. “We deserve it.”

“Life is going to be so much easier,” Nathan decided. “No one will ever bully me again.”


After school, Julia came home and flung a detention notice on the kitchen counter. 

“So, I broke the bathroom window by slamming the door and knocked over the chemistry lab table,” Julia laughed. “I didn’t mean to break anything. I was just showing my power to everyone around me. Mom and Dad won’t care.” 

Since no one else was home, Julia walked into the backyard alone to eat some more apples and abruptly noticed a scantily dressed woman crawling in the mysterious tree, singing along with the player piano. 

“Who are you? And what are you doing in my backyard?” Julia yelled at the stranger.

“Maybe I’ll tell you. Maybe I won’t,” the stranger in the green leaf-like body suit quipped. “Why should I tell you the truth?”

“The truth?” Julia responded. “Because I deserve it.”

“Oh, really?” the intruder sighed. “I thought you deserved power. You seemed to like the apples.”

“I didn’t put this tree here,” Julia snapped, feeling rageful at the need to eat more apples, and craving their taste. “It invaded my space.”

“Well, in that case, then maybe I should tell you the truth. My name is Evelyn,” she pondered. “As the story goes, the music from the player piano has the power to bring life or death. Which one do you want for Humansville, Julia? You are a smart girl.”

“Life,” Julia responded in a whisper. “I want life.”

“Good, I’m glad to hear that,” Evelyn concurred. “As a descendant of Eve, the first woman, I carry the Legend of the Tree of Good and Evil to whoever will listen. A version of the original Tree appears from time to time to test people. Didn’t you long for Humansville to be a better place to live? Well, you were asking for the Tree’s appearance when you did that!”

“I didn’t intentionally do anything,” Julia explained, wondering where her parents were at the moment. She hoped her brother would be home at any minute. 

“Until the town understands its faults, how will it ever be a more gracious place to live?” Evelyn pronounced. “Remember when Eve and her husband Adam ate its apples and were kicked out of the Garden of Eden? You’ve clearly become addicted to its apples.” 

“This sounds like what my science teacher taught about rats and mice becoming addicted to narcotics and other illegal drugs,” Julia commented. Then she blinked, and Evelyn was gone, but the player piano kept going. “This is getting weirder by the minute. Where did she go?” 

Considering her options, Julia decided not to take any chances. 

“I’m not going to be an addict. I have to get rid of these apples before they tempt anyone else,” Julia concluded, feeling woozy minutes later. She gathered the apples from the Tree and hid them in her bedroom so no one else could eat them. She withstood the thought of gorging herself on the fruit. Then, she looked out her bedroom window at a tree branch. “You’ve got to be kidding me!” she noticed that almost as soon as she had picked the apples the Tree had grown more fruit. 

Before her family came home, she hurried into the backyard to destroy the new apples, driven by rage. Meatloaf barked, howling at the fruit, instead of being tempted by it. 

“Man’s best friend,” Julia hugged Meatloaf, stomping on the apples that had already fallen to the ground, longing to eat another apple. “You’re always protecting me.”

She hoped her willpower against the apples would be enough. A ray of light shone through the clouds, and the wind brushed against her face. 

“What’s going on?” her father asked, walking into the backyard, several inches taller than his normal size. Her mother had the muscles of a heavy-weight champion. 

“Nothing. Not a thing,” Julia lied. “Just cleaning up around here.”

“I’m going to make apple pies tonight,” her mother called from the kitchen. “Your brother requested pie with vanilla ice cream. He’s bringing over some friends.”

“We want apples!” a group of guys yelled, running through the front door. 

Her brother threw his friends against the wall, making a large crashing noise as a bookshelf with delicate pictures and keepsakes fell to the floor. 

“Wow,” Julia commented, hurrying to her bedroom. “I have a lot of studying to do tonight. Big test tomorrow. I have to focus right now.” 

She ran into her room with Meatloaf, locked the door, and buried herself into the covers on her bed with her dog. She cried, feeling the withdrawal of the apples. Her head throbbed, and her heart raced. 

“What am I going to do?” she sobbed. “My family did not ask for this tree.”


That night, from her bedroom window, Julia watched Evelyn asleep on the tree branches under the moonlight. Julia wondered if she should wake Evelyn and demand a real explanation from her. Overnight, every apple that Julia tried to hide or destroy grew back.

In her sleep, Evelyn mumbled something about how Julia is the only one in the Genesee family that can see her.   

“How lucky can Julia be? She is the only one in her family who has eyes to see me,” Evelyn chanted in a rhyme. 

“Why does this have to happen to me?” Julia pounded the mattress on her bed. “What if Evelyn is just a figment of my imagination? Maybe the apples are making me think that she’s real, but she’s an illusion.”


The next day at school, Julia attempted to stop eating the deceptive apples. 

Despite her longing for the fruit, she ate a ham and cheese sandwich and pretzels for lunch in the cafeteria. By the time the bell rang for her next class, her hands were shaking, and she craved the apples more than ever. 

“I feel like I’m hallucinating, and I can’t see straight,” she moaned. “I have no choice. I might just have to eat one apple. One might be enough to help me through the day.”

She pulled an apple from her backpack in study hall, eating it before she could think about it. “Oh, I feel better,” she told herself, destroying everything in her path in a fit of rage when walking to her next class. 

“Don’t go anywhere near her,” her classmate screamed. “She’s gone crazy. Her brother is the normal one. He’s so nice that he’s passing out apples. I just ate one.”


Hours later at home, Julia felt worse than ever, almost like she was dying, craving more apples. “I got my powers too easily,” she reprimanded herself, forgetting to brush her hair. “I did not earn the responsibility that comes with them. I am a mess.”

Wanting to avoid Evelyn, she sat in her front yard, looking at its decrepit surroundings, uprooted gardens and trees, broken roofs and windows, smashed cars into broken fences, and flatted garbage cans. As far as she could see, the entire place was in shambles. 

“Apples!” she heard a grown man scream in the neighborhood. “More apples!”

“I think Mom passed out the apples to the neighbors,” Julia observed. “Clearly, too much applesauce.” 

She felt sick to her stomach and could not think of a remedy. 

“The Tree just keeps producing more bad apples,” she shook her head. “Everything is out of control.”

Walking into the backyard, Julia saw Evelyn sprawled across the tree branches. 

“You have so much free will, and you can do whatever you want,” Evelyn whined. “I’m jealous. I want your life. It would be easier. I want to make my own choices.”

“Please tell me what to do to stop the madness from the apples,” Julia begged, throwing herself onto the ground in front of the Tree, crying. “I need to save Humansville. Stop being so mean. Tell me what to do to get rid of the poisonous apples. Their power is dangerous.”

“This is such a dark night of the soul for you, isn’t it? Hmm, you might need this lesson for your sanctification,” Evelyn taunted. “Sanctification. Do you know what that means?”

“Does it have anything to do with love?” Julia wept. “You are the one who needs to be sanctified. I didn’t make a stupid tree grow in your backyard.”

“Every hard thing in life is used for learning,” Evelyn remarked. “It’s just another lesson. You must have needed to go through this trial. What are you learning from this test? It’s harder than a chemistry test, isn’t it?”

“I’m learning that you are cruel and heartless,” Julia argued. “You won’t even let other people see you – only me. You are trying to make me seem mentally ill.”  

“I’m merely a messenger,” Evelyn proclaimed. “I will never be a true human being, and I really do hate humans for their free will. So, I suppose I’m taking my problems out on you. What a pity!” 

With that, Julia climbed up the Tree and threw Evelyn onto the ground. She wrestled with her until she had her in a headlock. 

“You are the one who is about to learn something,” Julia screamed. “I’m about to be a very good teacher.”

“Fine! I give up!” Evelyn begged, gasping for air. “There is a second tree, the Tree of Life . . . in Eden. The seeds of its fruit create an elixir that reverses the curse from the apples on the Tree of Good and Evil.”

“Tell me more,” Julia threatened, pulling her hair with her hands around Evelyn’s neck.

“There is a window that opens next to the Tree of Good and Evil at midnight on the seventh full day of the Tree’s appearance,” Evelyn admitted. “When the player piano plays a specific magical song, the window allows a person to travel to Eden.”

“How do I know that you’re telling the truth?” Julia challenged.

“You don’t have a choice,” Evelyn pointed out. “If I help you through the window, I want you to help me become human.”

“I will help you become human in any way that I can,” Julia promised. “This would require me to save Humansville from destroying itself.” 

As Julia threw Evelyn to the ground, rattling noises and large thuds came from the house. “My family is home,” Julia explained, hoping they had not completely destroyed the house with their superpowers. “I’ll be back at midnight.”

“I’ll be here,” Evelyn moaned. “I’m not going anywhere.”

“Apples for dinner, Julia,” her mother called. “We’re waiting for you!”

“I’m not really hungry,” Julia lied, walking into the house with blood on her hands. “I already ate, but thanks.”


At midnight, the player piano began to play an altogether different melody, triumphant and grand, instead of melancholy. Although Julia wanted an apple badly, and she felt clammy all over, she resisted eating the fruit, and her superpowers had dissipated. 

“It’s almost time to go,” Julia explained to Meatloaf as he whimpered next to the Tree. “You stay here, and I will be back as soon as I can.” 

“Now is your chance,” Evelyn laughed with a smirk. “Make the most of it. The song won’t last but a few minutes.” 

When the window between Humansville and Eden finally appeared, Julia jumped through it without a second thought. 

“Don’t look back. Only move forward,” she yelped, to find a golden tree upon her arrival, the Tree of Life. She immediately grabbed its fruit, digging for its seeds. 

She filled her pockets full of as many seeds as she could at once from the Tree’s fruit. 

“It’s so beautiful,” Julia studied its branches in amazement with Evelyn watching her through the window.

“Hurry home,” Evelyn encouraged her. “Oh, but wait, how do you get back to Humansville once you’ve travelled to Eden? I forgot to mention that part. Yes, I forgot to mention a few things.”

“What do you mean you forgot to mention that part?” Julia yelled, trying to reach back through the window to Humansville. It was like she bumped her hand on a glass mirror. “You forgot to mention that it was a one-way window!”

“I tricked you into leaving your friends and family to die in Humansville,” Evelyn gloated, only partially sticking her head through the window. “If I can’t become a human, then the humans will die.”

“I’m going to kill you either way,” Julia warned. “So don’t worry about it.”

“Is that so? Well, if you want to come back to Humansville, then you can beseech Adam II, the new ruler of Eden,” Evelyn jeered. “Only Adam II can change me into a human being, and he has previously refused my request, saying that I am only a messenger and do not have the strength for free will.”

“I think he is right,” Julia agreed. “You would not do the right thing if the right thing hit you in the head.”

“Well, if you don’t speak to Adam II now, there is no hope for anyone in Humansville—your family and friends will die in a matter of three days,” Evelyn ridiculed, as the window slowly vanished like vapor. “So, I wouldn’t waste any time, if I were you. Get on with things.”


Julia sat alone next to the golden Tree of Life, looking across a lush garden that had rolling green hills and fragrant flowers. Bees and butterflies flew through the garden. The sun shone without a cloud in the sky. A waterfall crashed into the river surrounding the glistening Tree with rainbow fish jumping from it. 

“Does anyone know the way to Adam II?” Julia called aloud, noticing villages with homes throughout the hillside. “I need some help.”

Then she looked up to find a castle in the distance. 

“Excuse me,” a clumsy passerby noted. “Adam II sits on a throne of supernatural fire in his palace. Anyone who approaches his throne with fire from a natural source immediately dies. Make sure not to do that!”

“Well, I wasn’t planning on giving him fire,” Julia assured. “I just need to take these seeds back to Humansville from the fruit of the Tree of Life. I only have three days.”

“Best be on your way,” the hobbling man cheered. “Good day to you!”

“Good day to me! Wait! I need some help,” Julia repeated. “Help.”

“You can do it,” the man assured, inching along the road. “I can’t do it for you!”

Angrier than she had ever been, Julia stood up and ran with all her might for miles until she reached the castle of Adam II. She travelled through a forest with dense brush and up a hillside by a lake. People were few and far between. She spent two nights sleeping in Eden alone, eating the berries from the bushes. Unlike the rotten apples, the berries did not make her sick. 

“I need to speak to Adam II,” she demanded, busting into the inner chambers of his palace. She rushed past one guard after another. “I don’t have a second to spare.” 

“What is such an urgent matter?” the guard questioned. “Where do you come from, my lady? You look a bit disheveled. I will take you to the king.” 

“Thank you,” Julia responded. “This is a matter of life and death. I come from Humansville.”

She travelled down a long corridor, closely following the king’s servant. Smoke seeped into the hallway as the guard opened the chamber door to the throne of Adam II. 

“I need to travel back to Humansville and save my people from the poisonous apples from the Tree of Good and Evil with these seeds from the Tree of Life,” Julia cried, throwing herself at the feet of Adam II in tears. “Evelyn, a descendent of Eve, tricked me into travelling from Humansville to Eden through a magic window without telling me that I could not return. She wants to be human and hates me.”

After a moment of silence, Adam II stood up in her defense. Supernatural fire burned from beneath his throne, brighter than anything Julia had ever seen, shielding her eyes. 

“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,” Adam II decreed, waving his hand and re-opening the window between Humansville and Eden. “I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”

Julia stood up straight, hoping he meant that he was going to have mercy and compassion on her and Humansville. She breathed deep, wishing for the best outcome possible. 

“Evelyn, show yourself in the window,” Adam II insisted in a booming voice. “I originally sent you to grant Julia’s wish for a better Humansville. You have had no compassion. You were not supposed to cause any havoc.”

“I’m sorry. I beg for mercy,” Evelyn fibbed. “I just wanted to be human.”

In stillness, Julia watched the conversation in remorse for every bad decision that she had ever made in haste.  

“Even though it was your first trip into the town of Humansville, you have failed so miserably that I forbid you to ever become human,” Adam II punished her. “Your free will would cost me too much. So, this decree takes away any option of you ever becoming human. As punishment, you will appear chained to the original Tree of Good and Evil in Eden for eternity. You will be a sign of the dangers of evil.”

Evelyn wept in regret. “I didn’t mean to do this. I really didn’t. I tried to confront Julia and her family. This was the only way that they would listen to me.”

“I know you don’t believe that to be true,” Adam II clarified, slamming his scepter on the ground. Waving the scepter, he pointed to the window to Humansville. 

“Return home, Julia,” the king exhorted, gathering more golden apple seeds from the fire beneath his throne. “In addition to the seeds that you already carry, these seeds are also from the Tree of Life. Make an elixir from the seeds to save your dying family and friends. Please save one seed and plant a Tree of Life in Humansville as redemption. Make me proud!”

“Yes, sir,” Julia agreed, bowing, and jumping through the open window before he could change his mind. She swirled through the window, stepping into her backyard, still full of a tree with rotten apples and a depressing song from its player piano. 

Not much had changed, except that Evelyn was now stranded in Eden, instead of Julia. 

“Where have you been, Julia?” her father scolded. “I was looking for you.”

“Oh, I just went for a walk,” Julia explained, hoping that he had not realized that she had been gone for at least three days. “I forgot a homework assignment at school. See you later for dinner.”

She kissed her father on the cheek, wishing he could once again fit in smaller pants, which were now ripping at the seams. His eyes looked bloodshot from the apples, and he smelled rancid. From a distance, she watched her mother run back and forth in the kitchen, like an addict getting her next fix from the apples. 

“The neighbors must be entranced by the apples because they never complained about the player piano,” Julia mumbled to herself, listening to it tinker away.

“An apple a day keeps the weakness away,” her mother chirped. 

“Then why do I feel so sick?” Nathan questioned, throwing up on the lawn.

“I have to get something from the chemistry lab at school,” Julia told her brother, running as fast as she could down the sidewalk. She was hoping it was not too late for her family and town. 


“Open the doors!” Julia called, searching for a side door into her high school. “Oh, I could use superpowers at a time like this!”

Though the first two doors were locked, the door into the girl’s locker room was still open. She slipped through it and ran up the stairs to the chemistry lab. She turned on the burners and started to melt several of the golden seeds, mixing in some honey from her teacher’s desk. She saved the rest of the seeds in her pocket for later, especially to plant one in her backyard. 

“What are you doing?” her chemistry teacher interrupted, poking his head into the classroom. “I thought I gave you detention for knocking over the glass bottles and flasks! Did you serve it yet?” 

“Right after I finish this assignment,” Julia assured him. “I’ve just been busy.”

“Do you want an apple?” he tempted her with the shiny fruit. “I got it from your mother.”

“I’m good,” Julia replied, mustering up all the courage that she had. “I’m going to get back to working on this homework that I forgot.”

“Really? I think you turned your assignments in on time,” he recalled. “You were just reckless with my equipment, but oh, sometimes, I’m reckless, too.” He broke a pencil for fun.

The after-school bell rang, and Julia’s teacher suddenly forgot why he needed to speak to her anymore. “See you tomorrow, Julia! I’ll be expecting a full report on your experiment here.”

“Sure thing,” Julia agreed, finishing the elixir, and taking a dose of it for herself – first and foremost. Immediately, the craving for the rotten apples left her. “I never want to taste an apple from the Tree of Good and Evil again. Ugh.”

Then, Julia ran back home with several bottles of the potion. She took some lab equipment with her in case she had to make more elixir from her extra seeds. 

Busting through the front door of her family home, Julia insisted that her family drink the magic concoction. “This will save your life,” Julia chanted, holding her mother’s nose, and pouring drops down her mouth. Without further explanation, she did the same to her father and brother in their bewildered stupor. 

After her family took the doses, they shrank, returning to their normal selves and sizes. Their superpowers had left them for good. 

“What just happened? I feel like myself again,” her mother admitted. 

“Yeah, I couldn’t fit in my pants,” her father agreed. “Sometimes, less is more.”

“My headache finally left,” her brother explained. “I can think straight again.”

Crying in relief, Julia ran into her bedroom, setting up the chemistry equipment, making more elixir. She got honey from her mother’s cabinet to sweeten the taste of the potion. 


Travelling home by home in Humansville, Julia rid the town of the cursed apples with Meatloaf at her side. She administered the elixir to the affected people, so they did not crave the evil fruit ever again. After freeing the people in town, she poured the last bit of elixir onto the Tree in her backyard. As she did this, the ground split apart, opened its mouth in an earthquake, and swallowed the Tree of Good and Evil completely. The earth closed over the disappeared Tree. As a reward for passing the test, the player piano remained, and Julia rolled it into her home. She planted a single seed for a Tree of Life to grow in Humansville.

Although the player piano now performed more hopeful melodies, Julia learned to play it herself as time went by. All the while, she watched blossoms bloom on the Tree of Life as it grew in her backyard, wondering what test it might bring Humansville next. She realized that Humansville improving itself was never that simple. 


Copyright 2023 Jennifer Waters

Saturday, June 3, 2023

The Legend of the Tree of Life: The Story of Adam the Second (LEGENDS part two)

“Everything is so quiet today,” Julia Genesee smiled, curling up beneath the Tree of Life in her backyard to read a book, and eating a handful of grapes. Her chestnut brown bangs fell in the middle of her forehead. “It’s almost too good to be true.”

It had been several months since 14-year-old Julia planted golden seeds from Adam II in Eden to grow a replica of the original Tree of Life in Humansville. 

The Tree radiated light and peace, and Julia liked to spend time basking in its glow. It bore twelve different types of fruit, all of which Julia and her family loved to eat without problems.

Of course, this Tree of Life only grew in the absence of the Tree of Good and Evil that once grew in her backyard with poisonous apples that almost destroyed her town. It was a version of the original Tree of Good and Evil that grew in Eden until the ground opened its mouth to swallow it after a great battle. 

As it started to rain, Julia ran inside her home to find her mom cooking dinner. She wiped off the lenses of her round glasses from the raindrops. 

“Anything but apples,” her mother Claire declared. “We don’t ever eat those anymore, not even apple dumplings with ice cream.”

“No, we only eat meat and vegetables,” Jacob, her father exaggerated, who loved to enjoy the all the fruit on the Tree of Life, including grapes, avocados, oranges, blueberries, plums, strawberries, cherries, peaches, kiwis, bananas, pears, and grapefruit. 

“I miss the apples from the Tree of Good and Evil sometimes,” Nathan, Julia’s 12-year-old brother admitted. He brushed his blond hair from his face. “They made me strong!”

“No, you don’t miss them at all,” Julia argued. “They almost killed you and everyone in Humansville. We overcame them.”

She sat down at the player piano in her living room to perform an original song. 

“I’m so glad that the piano doesn’t play all day and night anymore on its own,” Julia commented, alluding to how the piano originally appeared with the Tree of Good and Evil.

“Every time I play the piano, I remember the lessons the Tree of Good and Evil taught me,” she reminded her family. Then, she finished her song, and the piano played a big band number by itself. “Anyone want to dance?’ she asked, as her family bopped to the beat. 


Later that night, the rainstorm grew worse with thunder, lightning, and hail. Sound asleep in her bed, Julia awoke to a sharp crackling noise. Her dog Meatloaf barked in fear. 

She sat up in bed and pulled back the bedroom curtains to look outside. 

“Oh, lightning hit the Tree of Life,” Julia gasped, looking at cracks through the trunk into the Tree’s roots. She threw on her jeans and a T-shirt, running into the backyard with Meatloaf, only to hear the same triumphant song that her player piano performed the last time she travelled to Eden through a magical window. 

“Julia! Listen to me!” a woman’s voice screamed through what appeared to be the re-opened window between Humansville and Eden. 

“Evelyn? Is that you?” Julia cried. “What is going on?”

Please, I need your help! I’m still chained to the Tree of Good and Evil in Eden. No one in Eden will listen to me! I beg you,” cried Evelyn, a descendant of Eve, partially crawling through the window in her green leaf-like body suit. “The lightning storm must have caused the player piano an electric short and opened the window.

Months ago, Evelyn had accompanied a replica of the Tree of Good and Evil with its test to Humansville, only to be judged by Eden’s ruler Adam II for lacking compassion. As punishment, she was chained to the original Tree of Good and Evil in Eden for eternity.

“Adam II has been captured by an evil ruler named Prince Ubel,” Evelyn cried. “He wants all the power from the original Tree of Life in Eden, and he has sent lightning storms to all the places in other worlds where seeds were planted to grow secondary trees.”

“Lightning just hit the roots of the Tree of Life in my backyard,” Julia confirmed. “What do we do now?”

“If you are brave enough, jump through the window again, and visit Eden to help save Adam II and the original Tree of Life,” Evelyn pleaded. “Prince Ubel has uprooted the Tree of Life from the springs in Adam II’s estate and hid it in an unknown location.” 

“How am I supposed to help fix that?” Julia argued. “I’m just one person. Last time you gave me advice, you lied to me, and you almost got me stranded in Eden. Why would I trust you?”

“Because if you don’t trust me, you will die,” Evelyn argued with despair. 

“If I trust you, I could die anyhow,” Julia answered flatly. “At least I could hide in Humansville for now.”

“If Prince Ubel controls all the power from the Tree of Life, he will have the ability to decide the life and death of every soul everywhere, and he will most likely destroy them and their children to create his own species—a species that would make any humans subordinate to them,” Evelyn explained, looking at Julia’s bewildered face. 

“This must be another test,” Julia decided. “I knew the Tree of Life would eventually bring me another test to pass. I’m just a regular girl. Why does this have to happen to me?” 

“Because humans have too much free will, Prince Ubel’s new race without free will would control any humans who are not eliminated,” Evelyn told Julia. “Please, help me! You only have minutes to decide if you are up to the task. The window will soon disappear.” 

“What am I supposed to tell my parents?” Julia chided her. “I could save Eden and get grounded by them. I already spend too much time alone on Friday nights.”

“Hurry! The window is going to close,” Evelyn emphasized. “You will not have a second chance to slip through it.” 

Worried her family would wonder where she went, Julia scribbled a note in the dirt saying: “Be right back.” 

Before thinking about it too much, she jumped through the window, spinning and whirling through time and space, to arrive next to Evelyn, chained to the Tree of Good and Evil in Eden. 


Rain poured as Julia and Evelyn sat beneath dripping tree branches in Eden. Julia could not see the sun through the clouds.

“Adam II has been gone for days, and Eden is desperate for someone to find him and the missing Tree of Life,” Evelyn explained in a depressing tone. 

Then to Julia’s surprise, out from behind the tree trunk jumped Meatloaf. 

“What are you doing here?” she asked her four-legged friend. “I guess he could not let me travel to Eden by myself.”

“You had to bring your dog!” Evelyn commented. “Well, he could at least be useful.”

As the dog started to howl, a looming figure walked in the shadows until he appeared to the women. 

“I am Prince Ubel, and you will now be my slaves,” he threatened, holding a sword. “I sent the lightning storms all over the universe to destroy the Trees of Life.”

“That’s the sword that was supposed to guard the Tree of Life in Eden,” Evelyn snapped at him. “What are you doing with it?

“It’s mine now,” Prince Ubel decreed. “Either join me with the rest of Eden or die. Adam II has only days to live. The power from the Tree of Life will then be mine forever. I will lead my own race of people.”

Evelyn and Julia exchanged glances, not sure how to respond. 

“I would surely free you from being chained to the Tree of Good and Evil, if you serve me,” the false prince lied with a fake smile.

“I will join you for your reign,” Julia agreed, abruptly, fibbing. Secretly, in her heart, Julia planned to kill Prince Ubel at the earliest moment and free Adam II, but she could not convey this to Evelyn in front of the dictator. 

“What?” Evelyn gasped and refused to look at Julia. “Why would you betray me?”

“You never wanted the best for me anyhow,” Julia play-acted in front of Prince Ubel. “I should have never listened to you in the first place.”

“Your fate chained to the Tree of Good and Evil is worse than death,” Prince Ubel decided. “So, I am leaving you chained to the Tree.” 

He departed with Julia and Meatloaf at his side. 

When the evil ruler looked away at his comrades in the distance, Julia looked over her shoulder, trying to communicate to Evelyn that she would be back as soon as possible. 

Evelyn squinted, not able to discern Julia’s interaction in full. 


Later that evening, Julia arrived at Prince Ubel’s camp outside of Adam II’s palace. 

A bit of a ghost town, the residents of Eden had hidden themselves in their homes, hoping that the new regime would not coming looking for them. 

“This is your tent for now,” Prince Ubel told Julia and her dog, opening the front of a small cloth hideaway. “My soldiers will move into Adam’s palace once his belongings are removed.”

“Thank you. I appreciate it so much,” Julia twisted the truth. “Last time I was in Eden, I had less than desirable lodging.” 

“I want to put you in charge of identifying all the Trees of Life throughout the cosmos,” Prince Ubel instructed, pacing back and forth in front of her tent. “If you could organize them into an exact list, then I could be sure they were all destroyed with lightning attacks.”

“Of course, my lord,” Julia reluctantly agreed. “I will do my best to make the list right away.”

“Now come with me for a moment. I need you to start working on your assignment first thing in the morning,” he asked. “I will show you the key for the vault in my tent where I keep the maps of the Trees of Life.” 

The vault perched behind the makeshift desk in Prince Ubel’s tent. 

“I hide the key in plain sight where no one would expect to find it,” the less-than-intelligent invader explained. “I hide it in my top desk drawer.”

“Yes, sir,” Julia observed, as Meatloaf sniffed around his tent. “So, where are you holding Adam II?”

In response, the Prince drew the sword that once protected the Tree of Life in Eden and held it at Julia’s throat. Stomping on his foot, she slipped away from him and ran beneath his desk in defense and grabbed the key from its top drawer without him noticing. 

“I’m sorry for asking,” she cried, running with Meatloaf into her tent to sleep for the evening. Thankfully, the insane prince did not follow her. She zipped the tent cover shut and pushed the table and chairs inside the tent in front of its entrance.

“Meatloaf, you must go out during the night and find Adam II and come back and give me a clue as to his whereabouts,” Julia whispered into his ear softly. “I can’t go looking for Adam II, or Prince Ubel will kill me.”

Meatloaf scurried to the back of the tent and dug a hole under its corner until he squeezed his way out into the darkness. “Good boy,” Julia cheered. “Come right back after you find him.” 

After she sent Meatloaf out, she sneaked back over to Prince Ubel’s tent and spied through the curtains to see where he kept the sword that once protected the Tree of Life. 

“I need to get my hands on that sword,” Julia determined, not finding it anywhere in sight. “It’s the best way to kill him.”

As she peered through the curtain of Prince Ubel’s tent, watching him sleep on his bed for the next few hours, she noticed that Meatloaf returned to her tent, whimpering, and digging in the dirt with no clue as to Adam II’s whereabouts.


After considering her options, and curious as to what else might be in the vault, Julia slipped into Prince Ubel’s tent with the key while he was asleep and opened the vault door when his guards were not looking. 

“What is this other key?” Julia whispered, staring into the vault filled with maps and a second key. “Maybe it could be used to free Adam II?”

As she lifted the second key and the maps from the vault to take them with her, she found the stolen sword. Its silver edges glistened in the darkness. She slipped the second key on the chain around her neck. 

She glanced at Prince Ubel who was fast asleep and then studied his guards, evaluating her chances at killing him with a successful escape.

The guards yawned and rolled over but did not fully awake. 

“I’m ending this before it gets worse,” Julia sighed, considering her few options.  

With Meatloaf outside the tent, she decided that she had no choice but to kill Prince Ubel now and put herself in charge until Adam II could be found. 

With one fell swoop, she decapitated Prince Ubel. 

“I can never tell Mom and Dad about this,” she squirmed, stabbing the prince’s guards in the back with the sword before they noticed her. Then, Meatloaf ran into the tent and barked. 

As other soldiers approached the tent, Julia held the head of Prince Ubel on a dinner plate. She pointed the sword at the guards and declared: “I am now the ruler of Eden, and you will bow to me or be destroyed with the rest of the prince’s soldiers.”

In terror, the guards fled as a beam of light streamed from the sword and struck them dead. Meatloaf cringed his nose, looking at Prince Ubel’s decapitated head. 

“I have to take it with us, or Evelyn won’t believe me that I killed him,” Julia explained to Meatloaf. “I don’t want her to think I’m a trader.” 


Before any more guards arrived, Julia took Prince Ubel’s head on the plate with the maps and the second key and fled with Meatloaf back to Evelyn. 

“Run, Meatloaf!” Julia called to him. “We can’t waste any time.”

When Julia arrived back to the Tree of Good and Evil, Evelyn gasped in horror.

“You cut his head off!” Evelyn trembled. “I am stuck here by myself, and you did the best that you could.”

“What else did you want me to do?” Julia raged, holding up the sword that once protected the Tree of Life. “You asked me to help you. I even found the Tree’s sword.”

“Did you find Adam II?” Evelyn hoped, crawling around the Tree of Good and Evil.

“No, I haven’t found Adam II, but I did end the reign of Prince Ubel,” Julia clarified, unrolling the maps from the vault. “Try to be grateful.” 


“Did you check in the caverns below the palace for Adam II?” Evelyn wondered, studying the map, and fascinated with how many seeds had been planted from the Tree of Life in other worlds. “There must be even more trees than on this map.”

“You would think so,” Julia commented. “Even if you tried, no one would be able to keep track of all the trees.” 

“Maybe the original Tree of Life is hidden in the caverns,” Evelyn considered. “You would have to hide it somewhere that had room for all of its roots.”

“It would not be that easy to shove into a closet,” Julia admitted. 

“There is a channel of rivers that runs beneath the palace into the caverns,” Evelyn explained. “If Adam II is in the caverns, maybe there is still time to find him before he is killed in captivity? We have to hurry.”

“Wherever he is right now, I’m sure Prince Ubel set a trap,” Julia assured. “I found this second key in his vault, so I am hoping that I can use it to free Adam II.”

The key hung from a chain around her neck, as if it could unlock the future of Eden. 

“You can enter the caverns when the river splits on the West side of the palace,” Evelyn pointed. “It eventually descends into the caves.”

“I was always a good swimmer, so I should be able to do this,” Julia agreed, looking at Meatloaf and hoping he could tread water. “I’m leaving this sword with you. It’s too valuable to get lost.”

“I’ll make sure no one steals it again,” Evelyn assured, burying it in the leaves of the Tree of Good and Evil.


So, Julia and Meatloaf set off to the palace, avoiding Prince Ubel’s guards that might try to kill them. As they approached the river near the palace, a small boat with a lantern sat near the shore. Two paddles rested on the side of the boat. 

“It looks like someone might have recently used this boat,” Julia said to Meatloaf. “Now, I hope you don’t mind getting wet. It’s almost like all the times that I washed you in the bathtub, but we don’t have soap to add any bubbles.”

Julia held up the lantern and descended into the caverns with Meatloaf at her side. As she paddled, the water grew higher and higher, and the boat neared closer to the top of the ceiling as each minute passed. 

Then a wave of water crashed against the boat and knocked the key on Julia’s necklace into the river. “Oh, no!” Julia cried. “I can’t let go of the paddles!” 

Without a moment’s notice, Meatloaf swam through the water and grabbed the chain with his mouth as Julia controlled the boat. 

“Good boy!” Julia applauded. “What would I do without you?”

After hours of floating along a dark corridor, the boat rocked back and forth, and Julia knew she could not travel much farther until she would have to turn back. 

All of a sudden, Julia and Meatloaf spied a figure behind bars in the corner of the cave.  

“Adam II, is that you?” Julia called, pulling out the second key from the chain around her neck that she took from Prince Ubel’s vault. “Stay here, Meatloaf!”

With Meatloaf still in the boat, she jumped in the water and swam to rescue Adam II. “Hang on!” she yelped. “We’ve come to save you!”

“Thank you, Julia! Hurry, the water is filling up the cavern!” Adam II warned. “I would have only had a few more hours until I drowned in the rising water.”

The original Tree of Life had been tossed next to him with its tangled roots pointing toward the ceiling. Its branches were bent and crunched. Its fruit and green leaves had either fallen off or had withered in the water. 

“I hope the tree is still alive,” Julia commented, sticking the key from her chain in the lock on the cell door. She jiggled the key left and right, and it finally opened. 

“Freedom!” Adam II cheered. “I am indebted to you, Julia.”

“I killed Prince Ubel and took control of the kingdom,” Julia explained with Meatloaf barking in triumph. “Eden is still in disarray. We must hurry before someone else tries to put themselves in charge.”


Worried that they still might drown, Julia hurried back into the boat where Meatloaf whimpered with concern. Adam II carried the Tree of Life on his back, and then floated it next to the boat. “If you don’t think we’re going to make it, leave me, and just take the Tree,” Adam instructed Julia, willing to sacrifice himself, as he climbed into the rescue raft.

“We’re all going to make it,” Julia determined, paddling them back to the surface as quickly as she could. 

One splash of water after another came against the boat, which hardly held the trio in the first place. Every few minutes, it seemed that they were going to capsize into the waters. 

As Julia paddled, Adam II used his arms to direct the boat, paddling with his hands. 

 At the end of the tunnel, Julia could see a glimmer of light. “We’re going to make it to the surface,” Julia pointed out. “I can see the sunlight. We’re almost there.”

“Prince Ubel’s guards could be waiting for us on the shore,” Adam II warned. “If they are waiting for us, my best advice is to run. I have no weapons.”

“I left the sword from the Tree of Life with Evelyn,” Julia explained. “I didn’t want to risk losing it.”


“Keep your head low,” Adam II told Julia as they rose out of the caverns from beneath the palace. 

Julia grabbed Meatloaf close to her chest, and he shut his eyes in fear. Still floating next to the small boat, the Tree of Life was sopping and moldy. 

“I wonder if the Tree will actually grow at this point. It looks awful,” Adam II lamented, studying its roots. Then, he spotted two guards of Prince Ubel’s monitoring the river. 

“We’ll hide behind this brush for now,” Julia determined, stopping the boat near a large bush, and waiting for the guards to leave.

“They might change guards soon,” Adam II explained, wet and tired. “Then it will be our chance to run.”

After an hour or two, the guards relieved themselves of duty, and Adam II lifted the Tree of Life on his back. He carried it until he replanted it firmly beside the springs on the East side of his palace. 

“This location is closer to my palace than it previously resided, but I will be able to keep better watch on it,” he explained, trying to protect Eden. 

“You are the once and future king,” Julia cheered, bowing to him. 

We need its sword! Sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow,” Adam II decreed, longing for the silver sword that belonged to the Tree of Life.

“Meatloaf, run to Evelyn and bring back the sword hidden beneath the leaves under the Tree of Good and Evil,” Julia instructed him, hiding a note in his collar for her comrade. “She will give it to you.”

“He will more easily slip past any evil guards,” Adam II agreed, watching Meatloaf hurry off on his daunting errand. 

The next morning, after Julia and Adam II slept beneath the Tree of Life, Meatloaf woke them up with a grunt, holding the missing sword’s handle in his mouth. 

“Meatloaf, I knew you could do it!” Julia celebrated, as she watched the sun rise over the hills. 

            Adam II grabbed the sword from Meatloaf and threw it into the air, and it circled the Tree in a sophisticated swinging motion, flaming and flashing back and forth to protect from intruders that would destroy it.
            “Wow,” Julia gasped, watching the sword swing while patting the soil around the Tree with her hands. Even Meatloaf piled dirt onto the area with his hind legs. 

“The sword is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart," he explained to Julia, as he walked with her and Meatloaf to his palace and sitting on his throne of supernatural fire. She sat at his feet. "I have now reclaimed my throne," his voice boomed. 

Slowly, over a few days, the Tree of Life began to stand up straight and bear buds for new fruit and leaves.


A few days later, upon finding Evelyn back at the Tree of Good and Evil, Adam II praised her for her faithfulness in asking Julia to save Eden.

“For your allegiance to Eden, you are hereby released from being chained to the Tree of Good and Evil,” Adam II decided, reversing the previous judgment that he rendered on her for her selfishness toward Humansville. 

Julia cried tears of relief as her latest journey had come to an end. Meatloaf jumped into her arms and cuddled his head in her chest. 

“Julia Genesee, you will once again return back to Humansville,” Adam II instructed, handing her golden seeds. “These small seeds are from the original Tree of Life that you helped me save. They came forth as gold from the fire in my throne.” 

Then, Adam II waved his hand, and the magic window between Eden and Humansville opened once again. Hugging Evelyn, and then Adam II goodbye, she stumbled through the window with Meatloaf. 

“Until next time,” she called to Eden, swirling through time and space. She landed in her backyard next to the replica of the Tree of Life with its cracked trunk. 

“Did anyone notice that I was gone?” she announced with Meatloaf barking. 

From her backyard, she could hear the player piano performing from the living room. It played the same triumphant magical song every time the window between Eden and Humansville opened. 

When no one answered her call, she realized that she had gone and come back without her family missing her. Her note, “Be Right Back,” was still scribbled in the dirt. 

Watching the sun rise over the hills, she wondered how time worked between Humansville and Eden. It seemed to be a bit of a mystery. 

“We have to cut down this broken tree, Meatloaf, and plant a new one,” she told her dog. “I have to go find Dad and ask him to help me get the electric saw. I hope he’s finished with breakfast. Then, I'm giving you a real bath in the tub with lots of bubbles.”


“Yeah, we'd better get rid of this mess before someone trips over it,” her father decided, drinking his morning cup of coffee. “It’s probably rotting. It will just turn into a no-good mess.” 

“That was quite a storm last night,” her mother commented. “It hadn’t rained like that in ages. I’m so glad nothing else got struck by lightning.” 

“I saw your note, ‘Be Right Back,’” her brother admitted, eating pancakes with bananas for breakfast. “I was too tired to figure out where you went. I figured it wasn’t far.”

“It wasn’t far at all,” Julia comforted her family by not giving them all the information.

After her father had cleared away the damaged Tree, Julia planted a golden seed from Adam II from the original Tree of Life in Eden to grow another replica tree in her backyard, hoping for a second chance in Humansville. 

Meatloaf held the garden hose with his mouth to water the seed. She kept the leftover seeds from Adam II for planting of other trees on another day. 

“Plant a seed today, and enjoy the fruit tomorrow,” Julia insisted. “As long as there are no bad apples.”


Copyright 2023 Jennifer Waters