Every Friday night we feature a short story, essay, personal narrative,
poem, spoken word, or short film for your enjoyment.
Helen Presents: a flash fiction piece from David Spicer
Snakes repelled shy Melissa. She taught third grade and became an ophiologist because students asked questions: What’s the biggest snake in the world? Are they all poisonous? What are their favorite foods? One child, Tiffany, asked was it true that a snake had two penises and seduced Eve. Being stumped by an eight-year old was not her idea of dessert for the ego.
The weekend after her first embarrassment by a child, Melissa drove to the library and borrowed every book on snakes she could find. Snakes in Culture was one title. Snakes and Women appealed to her. Kids loved movies with snakes, so she studied Snakes in Hollywood. Her favorite was Men are Snakes, which posited that Adam took the bite of the poisoned fruit at a brother’s behest.
Through the weekend, Melissa learned about snakes. After she answered her students’ questions, word spread about her expertise, and she accepted speaking engagements from the zoo, the college, and the Boy Scouts, whom she warned about the young man that went swimming in a lake and was found three days later with water moccasins wrapped around his body.
Buoyed by this support, Melissa became more outgoing. She wore expensive snake bracelets and necklaces. Pictures of beautiful cobras and pythons adorned her dresses. She curled her long hair to resemble snakes. Her colleagues called her Medusa behind her back.
In the break room one day the guidance counselor suggested that she see a psychiatrist. I’m not abnormal, Mr. Fox. Just because I choose a maligned creature to study doesn’t mean I’m crazy. I didn’t say you were crazy, Mr. Fox answered. You just need help. You have snakes on the brain. This statement infuriated Melissa. Her eyes turned a milky yellow, her face hardened to stone, and her hair tore itself from her head to attack Mr. Fox until he passed out.
Come on, boys, she ordered the snakes, come to Mama. The snakes complied and Melissa waited for Mr. Fox to awaken. You’re lucky these fellas were garter snakes, Mr. Fox. I almost wore my cottonmouth wig.
David Spicer lives in Memphis, Tennessee.