Saturday, August 2, 2014


Have you ever wondered what it would be like to wake up to a snake? I mean an honest to Betsy snake. We are staying at a friend's mountain house. Shortly before we left, the owner called my dad and mentioned that there was a snake sighting by the last people that stayed here.

A. Snake.

Not just around the house, but in the house. His children are all teenagers or older- so he was not too terribly worried about this possible King Snake, but wanted to mention Wilbur and the fact that he likes to hang around inside the house.


Dad pulled Husband aside to let him know about this little situation that they {AKA- the snake charmers} needed to be aware of and the plan of attack. Oh, and don't tell the women and children. We might get the vapors. Two cars traveled up the mountain- one armed with, well, us and the other armed with two grandparents, three grandchildren, Brother, and an armful of organic, non-toxic, blah-blah snake charmer evaporator GARE-AHN-TEED to rid the area of snakes. 

After unloading the cars and the kids getting wind that Wilbur was not a cat, rather a snake, they were very interested in helping out and even more interested in not finding the snake. The men of the house scoured the corners for about fifteen minutes, until Brother pulled back a curtain to see something long and black hanging in the shadows with his cataract stricken eyes. 

The grandchildren pile in the car with Brother clipping their heels, making no bones about the fact that he is not a snake person. A quick discovery thanks in no part to that long black vacuum cleaner hose.

Dad cut the televisions on and cranked the volume. Husband checked the towels and dark crevices. Dad took a pot and wooden spoon, walking around banging the pot. I pictured the scene with the future-evil-step-mother from the Parent Trap trying to scare off the mountain lions. Bennie clapped her hands and started dancing to the make-shift music while she and I played in the driveway, the older kids and Brother long since gone with Mom. Husband slithered on the ground lifting bed skirts and moving rugs, Whacking Day Stick in hand. 


No snake. 

Husband said it best, "I think it is more disconcerting that we didn't find Wilbur."

But, there were signs- like the skin on the wall. The very-long-folded-over-skin-on-the-wall. Oh, and that baby snake Husband found in a bucket by the fireplace.

And you know what they say about baby snakes? The same thing they say about baby bears-- Mama ain't far off.

Husband took the snake outside for the grandkids to see. He taught Nephew a lesson about snakes and that they cannot move more than 60% past their body. Read: short snakes can be held by short people and not be bitten. Long snakes cannot be held by short people with the same conclusion. They were fascinated with the snake charmer that is my husband.

Brother scooted a little farther away. I laughed (a little too mightily) and casually made my way back inside. Not for fear- certainly not- rather I had to... do... something... anything other than watch Husband with the baby snake. 

That night, I climbed into my big bed while the rest of the world continued outside. By myself. Bennie was in her crib across the way in my room and I gingerly pull back my covers, peering down my nose at the dark covers, waiting to see a random movement between the sheet and the mattress.


And still disconcerting, I saw nothing to say there was or was not a snake in my bed. With no false courage coursing through my veins (like the rest of the house), I send up a prayer to the Whacking Gods and curl my toes closer to my feet as I gingerly shimmied down between the sheets. They were cool and dry to the touch. No leathery scaly skin. Slowly and carefully, I move my legs around and my arms making snow angels and wiggling this way and that- saying my Hail Marys to the Whacking Gods before I deemed my bed safe-- for the moment.

Very haltingly and very painfully, I drifted into a fog of sleep. What I didn't know, what I should have known, what I needed to have paid attention to was that snakes like warm bodies within cold places. They are reptiles and reptiles cannot maintain their body temperature without external heat.

Like a pregnant person who emits warmth as if she were asphalt in August.

Slowly under the blanket, I felt my covers lift ever-so-slightly... just ever-so. Not enough to pull me out of my fog, but enough to stir me. A very cold, very clammy, very not normally in my bed thing made it's way into my bed to find the source of warmth in this cold house.

It wiggled over my top sheet and then under. It found my toes and before it could slither under my leg, I am up.

Up and out of bed.

Wind in my throat, scream at the cusp of my lips, walking on air kind of out of bed. Eyes like saucers, debating between my safety and the safety of my baby across the room kind of awake.

I am trapped amongst pillows on the floor and am a one armed man hanging wall paper trying to get through the swamp of pillows and blankets. I am blinded by the thought of this snake. Blind and deaf.  Until I hear little LMC say, "Mommy, what are you doing?"

I look over and there she is, tucked under my top sheet, wiggled down safely where I was just sleeping- in the warmth of my bed.

I breath a sigh. Thankful that I didn't scream and wake the house. Thankful even more that she was the Wilbur in my bed and not the actual Wilbur.


Family Snodgrass said...

Oh my goodness! MY eyes were as big as saucers about 3/4 through that story!

Jessica said...

Oh my! No fair scaring everyone like that! You should write suspense novels!

Anonymous said...

You are a wonderful writer. My heart is still racing from reading your story!

Wanting What I Have said...

Aaaahhh!!! I am laughing so hard!!! You're a great writer. :)