Tuesday, April 9, 2013
On the back porch of a house in a suburban Texas neighborhood, one small, brown snake lies curled around itself in the warm afternoon sun. A twelve-year-old boy spies the snake and alerts his brother and cousins. Soon, five children clamor around the reptile, pointing and hollering loud enough to attract the attention of the two middle-aged moms—my sister and me—who are inside the house. We shoot out the front door and run full-speed to the backyard.
“Josh, is its head triangular or round?” I ask, thinking it looks round.
The group consensus is that it has a round head—it’s probably a garter snake—but I don’t want a snake in my yard, even if it’s not poisonous. I grab a shovel and a bucket.
Who am I kidding?
The snake isn’t going to cooperate. It’s going to lunge, and I’m going to scream and fling the shovel. We need a container with a larger opening for some wiggle room. The only thing in sight is a plastic Igloo cooler. I pick up a cooler. “Let’s try this. Wait . . .” I peer at the drain spout. “Remember, the plug came off. That’s a pretty big opening. Do you think the snake can squeeze through here?”
“No,” my sister answers, “but even if it can, we’ll find something to plug it up.”
She grabs up the shovel.
Five barefooted children huddle around us like we need their help. Okay, I had asked my son if he thought it was poisonous. Now I remember that I’m the adult who's responsible for their safety. I make swooping arm motions. “Y’all get back.”
I’m still worried about the opening in the cooler. I want to stuff it with a plastic bag, a stick, something. But there’s no time. My sis tries to slide the shovel across the cement. Oops. The area isn’t smooth. She’s not able to slide under the snake. It's not like lifting a brownie with a spatula. The snake quickly slithers toward safety in the grass. Protective instincts rise in my sister like a mother bear, and she attacks the reptile.
She strikes, but misses.
I shriek, which helps so much.
She charges the snake into the grass.
We no longer see the snake, so I suppose I can stop shrieking.
Whew! Hopefully, it's hightailed it to Austin by now. I really don’t care where the snake has gone—as long as it’s not on my property.
This brief story is an example of pacing. As the action picks up, the sentences become shorter.
Whether you're a writer or not, I encourage you to journal the events of your life. You'll never remember all the details unless you write them down.
What event does this story make you think of? Do you journal? Why or why not?
~Roxanne Sherwood Gray