Flash non-fiction from times when the jungle was wilder.
I pull the suitcase down off the shelf above the corner closet, and there she is looking at me—a boa. We are equally surprised, and both jump back. How long has she been with me in my bedroom on top of the closet? How on earth did she get in?
How on earth will I get her out?
Maybe I should leave her there, I think. Maybe I have slept in my bed with her watching over me on many nights.
Maybe so, I think, but no more. We are afraid of each other now, and in this room together neither of us will sleep.
I stand on a chair with a broom and push her onto the floor. She flops helplessly to the tile, and in a desperate speedy wiggle, dives toward the safe darkness under my bed. I swipe at her with the broom – mighty whacks that push her toward the open door. I don’t want to hit her, but I am afraid of her. She strikes at the broom. She is afraid of me.
When I finally push her through the door into the black night, she slithers into the leafy jungle. My heart is pounding fast, as if I have been fighting for my life. Does she have a sister in my bedroom? Will she try to find her way back in?
Now, if she bites me I will deserve it. I hit her hard, and she did nothing to me but enter unannounced.
I lay on my bed in the dark and I am not sleepy. I imagine eyes looking down at me from the shelf on top of the closet. I feel the flicker of a thin tongue that reads my dreams.
I have been wrong. On how many nights have I lamented sleeping alone, while in truth accompanied by a lithe and silent guardian?