I saw a snake.
And I need for you to respect the great restraint and control in those four words. I actually cannot handle the idea of them, let alone a face to face encounter. Even as I write, simply remembering the scene, I’m lifting my feet off the floor. I could scream like a little girl over the mention of a snake. I lose all decorum and sense of maturity and control. So read those first four words with this intensity in mind.
I .SAW. A. SNAKE. Holy cats. There was a snake. S-N-A-K-E.
Our California friends had warned us – quite casually, actually – that snakes do in fact live in that mountainous, desert climate. This was nearly enough to send me with my packed luggage on the first flight back to Colorado, where snakes also live but I pretend they don’t.
“We’ve seen a few of them this summer – rattlesnakes that is. Let’s see. There was one in the garage and one on the deck. And there was one in the kitchen one day.”
In the kitchen, she said.
They showed us the shovel they use to kill snakes as needed. It’s also the shovel they use to scoop dog poop as needed. Handy tool, that shovel.
A week later, Kate walked out to the pool with a tray of beverages, and she said with measured steadiness, “Oh! Oh. Hello, you. Snake, you.”
We all jumped from our beach chairs and came running to see it, stopping in a frozen pose at an appropriate, safe distance. I’ll tell you what, I don’t know how big he was or how long or how fierce. Because it doesn’t matter. They are all the same degree of terror for me.
I’ve only ever seen snakes in a great big hurry to slither to their hidden safety. I’ve never seen a snake move so slowly, with such intention. As if he owned the place.
My brother is brave. My hero. He reached for that handy shovel with plans to save the family from our demise. Rather than chop it into a million pieces that would leave snake entrails smeared on the pool deck, he slid the shovel underneath Mr. Snakey McTerror and planned to toss him over the fence.
Kate said, “Tricia, look out over there. This thing could come your way. I mean, he won’t mean to, but he may throw it right at you.”
“I won’t throw it at her,” Rob said.
“I’m just saying. You’re a musical theater kid who’s about to try to throw a snake over a fence. Tricia, look out.”
* * *
We all survived. My brother saved the day.
And weeks later, here I sit with my ankles in the air, my laptop precarioiusly balanced on my knees.