I wrote this piece of flash fiction about two years ago in answer to a challenge by Thane in Vain to write a 500 word fiction using the phrase “the greatest crime.” I think an argument can be made that the crime detailed in this story is the greatest crime because it led to so many crimes down the road. I hope you enjoy.
Delighting in the beauty surrounding her, she wondered how she and the husband had gotten such a cushy job. The landlord was generous, allowing them full run of the place as long as they took care of it.
It was joyous to live amidst so many beautiful things, to know she could enjoy them all.
“All? Surely not all…”
Surprised, she turned swiftly. “Who are you? How did you get in here?”
He grinned. “Landlord sent me. I’m taking inventory.”
She stared at him. His beauty was beguiling.
“You like being tenants here?”
“Who wouldn’t?” she replied. “The landlord didn’t mention you were coming…”
“He’s busy – probably slipped his mind. This is just one of his places. He’s got many.” He looked around. “Sure is nice here. You get to handle this stuff?”
“Oh, yes. We make ourselves at home; we can handle anything as long we take care of it.”
“Even that?” he asked, indicating a shining object.
She hesitated. “Well, no… that’s a prized possession.”
An amused chuckle. “Really? Doesn’t he trust you? I thought you were the caretakers…”
“We are!” she said, stung by his words. “It’s just that one object. He says it’s too valuable.”
“So, he doesn’t trust you… He must think you too irresponsible.”
She looked closely at the object. Odd it had never interested her before; it was the loveliest of the landlord’s collection.
“Go ahead, pick it up. The landlord isn’t here. I won’t tell.”
Coming to a decision, she reached for it. Bold visions blossomed in her brain as she caressed its smooth roundness.
When the visions cleared, her world was changed.
“See? You didn’t break it, and no one’s the wiser.” Satisfied, he moved away.
“Wife! What are you doing – you can’t touch that!”
Turning, she faced her husband.
Her new eyes judged him harshly. “Why not? Touch it – it’s nice.”
He paused, remembering the landlord’s instructions. Still, just a touch… How wrong could that be?
His finger grazed the object’s surface.
Myriads of visions…
Then something new: guilt.
The landlord suddenly appeared. “Is this how you repay trust?”
The woman didn’t flinch. “The one you sent to take inventory – he said it was okay. What’s the big deal?”
Looking around, the landlord spotted the intruder. “You again.” He sounded sad. “I loved you and would’ve welcomed you home countless times.”
The intruder’s head whipped toward the man and woman. “To take second place – to that? I prefer darkness.”
“Which is where your jealousy has sentenced you. You’ve corrupted innocence – the greatest crime ever committed by one creature against another. Leave my presence.”
Unabashed, the intruder glided away.
Looking at the couple, the landlord sighed. “I’m sorry; you’ve chosen your course. You must leave.”
“No! Please! We’re sorry!”
“I believe you. But, understand, every choice is fraught with responsibility. Don’t despair. We’ll see one other again.”
Following Adam from the garden, Eve let the apple drop from her hand.
©2017 All Rights Reserved Kate Loveton