A Slithery Surprise
My husband, my daughter Ariana, and I used to live on Highway 35 near Kosciusko, Mississippi. The house we were renting was large and old. It wasn't unusual to see wild creatures in the yard, as the house was surrounded by woods. However, it WAS a little disconcerting when they made their way into the HOUSE.
One hot day, Tom was sitting in the front room taking a nap in his favorite chair. My daughter Ariana was only three at the time. She walked around the house, looking for ways to get into trouble.
I was stretched out in the bathtub. I spent a lot of time in the bathtub during the hot season. I enjoyed a good, long soak in warm water. It seemed to cool me down after I got out.
Ariana toddled into the front room and shook her dad back to reality.
"Dad," she whispered.
"What, punkin'?" her father asked sleepily.
"There's a snake in a paper bag in the dining woom," she told him.
"Yeah, sure there is," he said. "Let me get a little more sleep."
Ariana walked away from her snoring father, for the moment. She carefully peeked into the bag. The chicken snake lay coiled up at the bottom of the bag. He looked up at her briefly and put his head back down.
The baby went back to her dad, who was in Dreamland again.
"Dad," she whispered.
Kids could be pests. Tom opened both eyes this time and looked down at her. The only way to get her to be quiet was to placate her.
"What IS it, Ari?" he asked her.
"That snake is still in the dining woom. I'm scared," she replied.
"Oh, okay, I'll play along."
He groaned as he lifted himself out of his chair.
Ariana led him to the paper bag. Tom thought that she was just trying to play a game with him. He opened the bag, looked inside, and jumped back about six feet, suddenly wide awake.
"Hey, Kitten!" he called to me in the bathroom. "There's a snake in a paper bag in the dining room!" He sounded genuinely alarmed.
Well, I wasn't about to miss this! I stepped out of the tub and didn't even bother to grab a towel. I appeared in the doorway of the dining room in my birthday suit. Steam still curled lazily off my naked body.
Ariana ran to me with her little arms reaching up toward me to hold her. Now, all you mothers reading this book, isn't that the most beautiful sight in the whole world? A baby wanting to be held?
I picked up my little three-year-old and held her tightly.
"Mommy!" she said. "There's a snake in that bag right there." Her little chubby finger pointed to the paper bag, which was being peered into now by her father.
"What are you going to do with him?" I asked.
"Release him into the backyard," he decided. "Go open the kitchen door."
I carried Ariana into the kitchen with me and opened the door nice and wide. Then we came back to the dining room.
"We're ready," I said.
I had to have one good look at the snake before he released him. I peeked inside the bag. It was difficult to estimate his length because he was all curled up into a tight coil. He appeared calm, though, as he watched me. Apparently, he had made his way into the house to escape the heat. Presumably, he had come up from under the kitchen sink where there was a hole that neither of us could fix.
Tom carefully closed the bag and folded the top down an inch or two. He lifted it up slowly so as not to disturb the snake inside.
Holding the paper bag out at arm's length, Tom made his way into the kitchen. I followed him with the baby. He set the paper bag down on the ground in the backyard. Then he took the end of the broom and slowly turned the bag over on its side so that the chicken snake could slither out. From behind the half-closed door, we all watched as the bag began to rustle. The snake slithered out of the bag and glided effortlessly into the short grass outside. He was at least four feet long!
All three of us heaved a sigh of relief as we shut the kitchen door, and from that day on, Tom took Ariana just a LITTLE more seriously . . .