Monthly Archives: January 2010

Wisdom

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“Mom, you have to see this.  Come on!”  Jeremy said urgently.

I wiped my hands on the dish towel hanging from my apron string and followed him out the back door.  He led me over to the chicken pen.  Some of the chickens were squawking hysterically, but there on the side of the chicken coop, the rooster sat sleeping with a black, pig-nosed snake curled up next to him.

What does this mean? I said to no one in particular.  And then I turned to Jeremy, “Is one of them dead?”  He shook his head, but he knew that disturbing them to show me could prove fatal.

“What do you think we should do?”

“Let them sleep.”  He said.

Children are wise like that.

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Snake Charmer

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She was born in the year of the Cock –though she preferred to say Rooster.  They sat there playing chess in the dark because the storm had knocked out the electricity and neither could be bothered to get up and light a candle.  She moved her queen’s pawn two spaces forward.

I got offered a promotion today.”  She said after officially letting go of her piece.

He didn’t lift his head, but his fingers went back and forth between his bishop and his rook.  “Did you now?”  He finally chose the rook.

“Yes, but they want me to move to Portland.”  She said as she brought her bishop out to stand watch on his king.

“I can’t move to Portland.”  He said still not looking up as he captured her pawn.

“I know,” she said.  Slowly she slid her queen out to guard the other side.  His queen was gone.  He had no protection.

“I’m going by myself.”

She couldn’t see his face in the dark. He knew she wanted to scream at him.  Maybe she wanted to say she knew about the girls.  Maybe she knew what he did to them.  But she moved her queen quietly forward, and simply said, “Checkmate” before she got up from the table to pack.

“I’ll help you.”

He was born in the year of the Snake; a natural predator.

red dust

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“A rooster can eat a snake, you know.”  Li told the older boy in the school yard.

“No, it can’t.”  The boy countered.  “The snake would kill it before it could even try.”

“Each animal has its own strength.”  She insisted.  “And if the rooster were provoked. It would kill a snake.”

“I don’t believe you.”  The boy taunted.

“Alright, you go get a snake, and I’ll get my rooster.”

The boy ran off into the trees behind the school and Li crossed the dry, red, dirt road to her house on the other side.  Her parents weren’t home, so they wouldn’t know that she had taken “Sawan,” her father’s prized rooster.  She had to be right.

They met back up in the dusty school yard within minutes.  “Alright,” the boy said.  “When I count to three, we will both drop them in front of us.  Ready? One…two…three.” And the boy almost threw the snake on the ground and it started to slither until Li released Sawan.

Sawan started squawking as if he had already been caught.  He ruffled his feathers and flapped his wings in a frenzy.  The snake just watched quietly and hissed; watching and waiting.  Sawan almost caused himself a heart attack in his noisy display, but he must have known that if he ran away, he could be swiftly attacked.

“Come on, Sawan!  Eat him!”  Li half-cheered and half-pleaded.  Sawan started to calm down.  The snake was not attacking him.  Maybe he was safe.  And in that very moment, the snake lunged, biting Sawan perfectly on the neck.  The rooster collapsed almost immediately into a mound of flesh and feathers.

Li fell on her knees in the dry dirt next to the bird and her little mind began to connect the dots.

They found her body floating in the river hours later because she understood that she would always be the victim of snakes.