Satan and the snake had watched each other for a long time before either spoke. It was mid-morning—it was always mid-morning—and the breeze was pleasant and warm in the thick tangles of shining dark leaves. The snake, a long purple shadow, was hanging in negligent coils from a branch of the tree hanging with blue-spotted white flowers and dark red fruit. Her large head rested on her casually muscled form and she watched Satan, who was sitting on a rock in a dusty clearing, rubbing his shoulders where his large black wings sprung, grimacing from time to time and keeping a close eye on the snake.
It was Satan who spoke first, after his grimaces and rubbing had finished. “You are very beautiful,” he said.
The snake stirred, blinking. “How can you know what beauty is?” she asked. Her voice was low, and modulated. “Only the gods know that.”
Satan shrugged. “I don’t know how I know, snake. I only know that I know—and you are very beautiful.”
“Are you a god, then?” Her voice was cool and musical, like a brook, and she regarded Satan with cool eyes.
He laughed, leaning back into his wings and grabbing his knees. “Do I look like a god to you?”
“You look like half a bat,” said the snake as she eased down from the tree. “The other half might be monkey, might be man. You have more hair than the other two-legs in this part of the tree-place.”
“Not a god though. That’s a relief,” said Satan. He leaned forward slightly and studied her as she moved from under the shadows of the trees. “You are beautiful—look at you in the sunlight. You’re like a living bruise.”
“What part of creation is a bruise?” asked the snake.
“A very beautiful part.” Satan’s mouth twitched into a smile.