The Snake WomanA Story by Raven: The Thought Hole
Only at the unheralded hour, during the unsuspecting moment, in the unforeseen place will you see the Snake Woman. She bustles through everyday crowds, slinks through unlit alleys, but remains forever hidden to the watchful eye. Few have seen her, but I have witnessed her atrocities. Witnessed and done nothing! But that’s all about to change. My beloved doctor insists I tell you the story in hopes that I will see the absurdity of it all. He credits it to the delusions of a troubled mind, the need to put a face on a faceless murderer. And yet, throughout my life I have encountered nothing as vivid! Fabricated it may be, or a distortion of truth, but nonetheless, I will relay to you what I can only accept as fact.
My Grandmother abhorred my Father from the start. His loose denim jeans, muddy worker’s boots, and flabby potbelly boiled a fervid revulsion within her. “Why would you marry such a brute?” she’d mutter. “Hope he chokes on his beer and dies.”
Mother never gave a reason, but it was clear she loved him. Every time he left, she would wait at the kitchen counter for his return. She would scratch at her forearms until they blistered blood red, like she was trying to claw out of bottomless ditch. My Grandmother would have to bandage them up and during all this, my Mother’s eyes would never move. They’d stare into the brownness of the door, only breaking when it opened.
When he did come back, she prepared every meal with a little extra effort. He never noticed it though. He’d just cram the golden eggs, sizzling bacon, and sun-brown toast into his greasy mouth and wash it all down with a slug of juice.
All the while, in the scene of disgusting mastication sounds and deep, smelly burps, my Grandmother would only smile. A doll-faced smile that I was sure masked an uglier creature underneath. She would do anything to cloak her loathing. Don’t get the wrong idea my friend. I loved my Grandmother dearly. Her bedtime stories could put any child into a slumber and that unwavering, cooing tone always brought happiness from its sheath.
I merely relay this to you for each point in time begets further points in time. Points that would eventually lead to the Snake Woman and all her wrath.
The night of the Snake Woman commenced as every other. An argument began right after dinner. I remained safely tucked away in my bed, while the cacophonous voices served as a customary lullaby. At one time, the sharp voices would have sliced deep, causing a bleeding that I was helpless to stop. But after ten years of being cut, you stop feeling the knife.
I was used to my Grandmother coming in by then. But she wasn’t there. No shadow stood at the door, no one to lend some movement to the stillness. Had I done something wrong? I didn’t believe so. I did my homework as she instructed, cleaned up for my Mother, and made sure to get in bed by ten. But, when she wasn’t there, it meant something was wrong.
A feeling of guilt came over me, shriveling up my insides. She worked so hard to make life better for our family. Did I let her down?
The voices were still going on. Ants bit at my insides until I wanted to jump up and call out for my Grandmother. I knew I shouldn’t though. She would come. She had to. And right when the ant’s gnawing had become too much, right when I felt my insides would set fire if I remained still, she appeared at the door.
“Hello Michael. I brought you some ice cream.”
She turned on the light, giving life to the motionless room. The furniture glowed, coated in a golden gleam. Slowly, a feeling of fullness pushed the ants down into a dark cavern. My face relaxed in the warm light. Ice cream! How silly of me it was to think I was in trouble.
I took the bowl, thanking her graciously for such an unusual treat. She just smiled and said that I deserved it.
“But,” she added. “You cannot tell your Mother I gave it to you. This will be between us.”
I nodded and picked at it, remembering to take small bites like she taught me. The cold sting of the ice cream started a fire in my belly. It was a good fire though, making me feel like a warm bun, toasting in the mass of covers.
After I had finished, she removed the bowl from my room and bade me good night. The last thing I remember before plunging into a deep slumber was the thick taste of warm milk in my mouth, the fullness of my belly, and the unnatural heaviness of my eyelids.
I awoke with a jolt. Darkness pervaded the room except for a thin line of moonlight shooting in from a crack in the curtains. Slowly, the dream world dissipated from my mind, drawing me back to the room. It was quiet; nothing moved. Only my breaths disturbed the silence. I waited in the darkness, trying to hear what had awakened me. It was a clanking sound, like metal on metal. I couldn’t be sure. After all, dreams play strange tricks. Sweat crawled down my cheeks, dripping onto the cool sheets. It seemed like hours passed.
I was about to go back to sleep, when I heard it again, the clanking. Only now, I was sure it was footsteps. They were coming from outside my window. Terror sprung up in my throat. The ants were back, chewing at my insides. I had to see, if only to know, the face of the intruder.
I threw off the covers and crept to the window. I wedged my eye between the slit in the curtains.
No one was there. Not only was it deserted on the fire escape, but on the street as well. “What mysteries the night brings!” I thought. As anyone could see, there were no signs of life at that hour. “How foolish of me to think—“
A lone walker caught my eye. He was stumbling down the street, swaying from side to side in the yellow light. My eyes followed the man up the street and across the traffic lights. His swagger was familiar, like from an old friend you just can’t place. Suddenly, I realized who it was. It was my father. Drunkenness had made his walk nearly indistinguishable. But, I can never forget that swagger, like he owned it all.
He turned a corner, leaving the street still. My Mother never knew where he spent the night. She only worried and prayed for his return. My Grandmother worried also, but for my Mother, not my Father. There was nothing for me to do during those moments. Grandma insisted on caring for Mom herself, so I was left sitting in the living room, pretending to read a book. Before, if I had been given the chance to follow him, I would have taken it. But seeing him on the streets now, for the first time, was different than I’d thought. I was once certain I’d jump at any opportunity to discover where his night walks led. But now O half of my body wanted to go back to sleep and the other half wanted to see what lay beyond that corner. If Grandma caught me sneaking out, then I was sure to be in trouble. But if she didn’t, then I could make sure he didn’t do anything stupid. This was the chance.
I stood awkwardly, weighing each possible action on an unbalanced scale. The choice was already made up within me. I just needed the heart to follow it through. A picture of Grandma and Mom flashed into my mind. They were sitting at the kitchen table. They looked so sad. It was like a broken triangle. My Grandmother cared for my Mother, my Mother for my Dad, and my Dad for no one. Even if he recognized me or I got into trouble on the road, I had to do it for them. I sucked in a breath of air and slipped out onto the fire escape.
The ways of stealth were innate from having to sneak passed my parents’ arguments to get out of the house. I had no trouble descending to the ground in the soundless night. The empty air smoothed against my cheeks as I ran farther and farther away from the apartment.
By the time I caught up with him, he had entered the park. As everyone knows, a great many bizarre wanderers fill the parks at night. S***s, bums, homosexuals, and drunken men all flock to escape the loneliness that pervades each outsider. My Father had joined the moonlit masquerade, dancing to an unheard tune as he ambled through the park. I had situated myself behind a row of bushes. He moved along while I followed.
It seemed like a hopeless endeavor, for he wasn’t doing anything wrong. Suddenly, he stopped. I spread open the damp leaves of a bush, straining my eyes to read his face. Only, there was nothing to read. His countenance bore no key to his feelings. It was unmoving and pale like the moon suspended in the sky.
That night, it was not the boisterous laughing or the juicy, polka dotted thighs that hooked his neck. It was her. She pulled at his mouth like a master fisherman, reeling him in with skillful tugs. And he let himself be pulled willingly, giving no thought to struggle. That was when I knew I had to stay. If anything happened, I needed to be there. Only now I wish I was not.
My Father approached her not like the gallant knight or the hunting crocodile, but like the hungry, needy baby who knows only what he wants and where it is. A reeking grey venom gurgled within my belly, making me want to vomit all of the repulsion I had in one big blob of phlegm.
All at once, dizziness overtook me. The streetlights turned into big, fuzzy cotton balls against the black sky. Red, green, and yellow spun around me. The thick taste of milk sMothered my breathing. I battled against lead weights to keep my eyes open.
Through the blurriness, I could still make out my Father and the Woman. He was moving towards her with the confidence of a man who had just checkmated his foe. Each step he took slid on the gravel, making a horrible grating sound.
I was about to run out and yell for him to come home, when something unexpected happened. She turned and calmly walked out of the park. Maybe she had sensed his motive, but at the time it struck me as odd. “Doesn’t she deal with men like that?” I thought. And I was later to see, through horrific circumstances, that he did not follow her. She led him. Not by sound of mouth or by touch of hand, but by eye. Her cold blue eyes had entranced him, teased him with thoughts of what could be, and set fire to a lust that all men know, but that few let burn.
She guided him like a hungry puppy through streets, alleys, and parks. With every step, he became closer, but she only quickened hers, slipping back into the shade of the night. Not once did she peer over her shoulder. She merely walked, as confident that he would follow as a pet owner dangling a treat.
Sometimes, my father ran, other times trudged along, but despite the pace of his step, hers remained the same: short and quick like the feathery movements of a spider on its web.
Soon, the lights along the streets grew fewer and the city noises quieter. The click, click, click of her heels melded with the thump, thump, thump of his boots. I followed from a distance. Each light still shone like a wooly star, but my stomach was settled. I kept the thoughts of Mom and Grandma at the front of my head. They fueled every step I took.
At first I had wanted to stop his stupidity, but slowly, another thought came into my mind. “Instead, maybe I could let him do something wrong. Then I’d tell Mom. That would surely bring her to her senses.” I pictured her at the counter, eyes fixed and hands trembling like a hurt dog. I imagined telling her of what my Father did at nights and waiting for everything to suddenly become normal. We would be a family. Me, Mom, and Grandma. We would forget about my Father and everything he’d done. In the image, I expected to see joy, exuberance, or at least a smile, but Mom only filled the hollow room with stillness. She stared into the door, still trembling and scratching at her arms. My Father’s voice boomed across the room, bringing me back to the night air, “Once a b***h, always a b***h.”
Hatred burned within me. I wanted to defy. I wanted to punish, to bring justice to evil, but even if I hated him, I loved them more and I knew what they’d want me to do.
Up ahead, my father was coming closer to her. I ran, trying to keep up. They were both blurs, but I kept heading in the direction of the thumping and clicking.
Suddenly, she veered into an alley, heels scraping on the cobblestone sidewalk. He couldn’t let her get away after coming so close. He gripped the corner of the building and spun into the alley. I followed.
I peered around the corner into darkness. Purple stars danced in the alley. I rubbed my eyes until they faded away. She stood before him, face shining white, naked in the moonlight. She was wrapped in a white fur coat, and black leather gloves hid her hands. On such a warm summer night, I would have thought her apparel to be out of place, only the blasted blurriness had clogged all my senses. If it weren’t for that, I would have been able to stop it. But instead, it proceeded as follows.
“Awfully late to be wandering the alleys,” he said in a raspy, beer-burned voice.
She didn’t move.
“Welp. Don’t move and it’le be done fast.”
He threw back his belt buckle and moved closer.
Suddenly, a glint caught my eye. I was about to cry out, but it was too late. A whimper killed the silence. At that timeless hour, it wouldn’t have mattered if it was a shriek. No dogs stirred from their heavy sleep. No lights flicked on. No sirens wailed. Then, there was a gurgling cry, a quick tear, and a dull thud.
Horror filled me. The world flickered. The energy that once drove me spilled out with his blood. I stared wide-eyed into the alley. My Father lay on the ground, the woman standing over him. It was the first time I saw her up close, and I’ll never forget it; the rubbery skin, the pupiless eyes, the lightening white coat, and the thick, leathery, snake-like hair. The image burned into my mind, and now it is all I see.
Nausea overpowered me. A grey poison chilled my veins. My Mother would be waiting at that counter forever. Grandma would always be tending to her. I would always be in the living room, reading and wishing someone would take notice. smashed into one haze of light. And then there was nothing.
The next morning, to my surprise, I woke up in bed. I instantly asked were my Father was. Mother didn’t know. Grandma didn’t know. He usually came back by morning. Hours passed. Days passed. Weeks passed. He never came home.
After spending countless nights up alone gazing over the street and wondering, I concluded that what had happened was of imagination, nothing more. None of it made sense. The logical explanation was that I had seen my Father and perhaps fainted onto the bed from the initial shock. After all, he was like a ghost to us at night. No one knew what he did. Without any other possible account of the evening, I accepted my reasoning as truth.
Shortly after his disappearance, my Mother fell ill. The doctor couldn’t quite determine the nature of the illness, but gave us some pills that would help. Throughout this hard time, my Grandmother was her sole caregiver. The school year was beginning, so I was immersed in my studies.
One day, the secretary came to my class and ushered me to the main office. I was informed by the nurse that my Mother had died. The doctor said that she was taking too many pills to compensate for the deadliness of the illness. She was actually getting better, but taking the pills when you were healthy, the doctor said, made them a poison instead of a cure.
Her death shook me. I had lost the one who had brought me into the world. There were no hopes for a family left. Who was I to turn to? The answer presented itself rather quickly. Grandmother compensated for their absence. She cooked, cleaned, helped me with my homework, and tucked me in every night. She never let me skulk around or shed a tear. She’d bury my face into her chest and make promises to always be there.
“Your parents faded away with tragedy,” she’d say. “But I will not. I am strong and I will take care of you.”
Soon, depression lifted and I was engrossed in friends and school. After that crazy dream, I believed that I had been given such a gruesome imagination for a reason. I told ghost stories to my friends at sleepovers, always having them on the edge of their mat. These stories may have been frivolous, but through them I discovered another talent within me, writing. Writing became my life. It filled me up inside and gave faces to the faceless. My Grandmother supported my new found passions too. Mom wouldn’t have had time to read my writing, but my Grandmother always found time.
I had never told the dream, my inspiration, to anyone. My stories were so horrific that I never needed a scary one like that to capture my audience. Besides, whenever I thought about writing it, I realized that there were many gaps in the story. I couldn’t put together all of the events or explain why my Father had chosen to leave us that night of all nights. It didn’t matter to me. My Grandmother and I made a complete family. I have never been happier.
Years passed and the dream went forgotten. Soon, I entered college, took up a job, and wooed a beautiful girl. Life could not have been better. And then, to my delight, graduation day at last approached. I had earned a scholarship for writing from Harvard when I enrolled. Throughout my years there I published several books. Because of my attainments, I was asked to the give the graduation speech. It was an honor given to only the most successful. Grandma and I were overjoyed.
The day finally came. My introduction consisted of talking about accomplishments of our class, the fun activities we had enjoyed together, and some of the humorous events that had occurred. Everyone watched and listened with awe, like I was reciting one of my stories. Grandma sat in the back row, giving me a wave every now and then. I had to cover my mouth to stop from laughing.
Finally, I came to the conclusion of my speech. Everyone clapped and then filed out in one bustling crowd. I remained at the podium, looking over the vacant seats, taking in the calm atmosphere and enjoying the silence.
Perhaps it was because of the silence that I heard it. Or maybe it always lived within me, waiting for the right moment to spring out.
It was at that moment, when a faint clicking caught my ear. It was such an odd sound! It was almost familiar. I concentrated on it, trying to place it. The clicking became louder, closer. Something was familiar about it. I couldn’t place it. It was like the memory was just out of reach, toying with me. I laughed at my frivolous endeavor, but nonetheless, I kept my ears tuned for the sound.
The clicking became louder and louder. It filled every inch of me, every tissue. It scraped under my skin, teasing my fingers, for they could not reach the itch. Louder, louder, louder it became. It filled the hall, ricocheting off the walls, clanging against my ears. Pressure built up under my temples. I rubbed them, trying to soothe the torment. Why would it not stop! It rang in my ears, vibrated through my body, ate at my flesh. I thought I would cry out with quivering lips if it did not stop.
But suddenly, slowly, like the chess master discovering his opponent’s plan, I knew the sound. I knew it well. But it knew me better. It lived with me every step of the way. Every line of the page I ever wrote. Every word I spoke. It lived within the very caves of my mind, lurking and waiting for the moment to strike.
I waited, waited, waited. The clicking came closer and closer. I waited. The timing had to be exact. There was no room for error. I waited. The clicking was now behind me. It stopped.
Every muscle, every whim, every bit of concentration focused into a laser of hate. I whirled around, blood boiling, knees shaking, heart burning, determined to meet my attacker.
Glass shattered within me. All of my cunning evaporated in a wisp of smoke. I stood, wide eyed, mouth open, joints bone-stiff.
“Hello Michael, you gave a wonderful speech today.”
I couldn’t answer. I was frozen to the spot. Unable to move. Unable to cry. All I could do was stay standing and look into the cold blue eyes of my Grandmother.
“Well, you must be very tired. We should get ice cream. My treat. Anyway, I’ll be waiting for you in the car. “
She walked away, heels clicking against the stage. Only I did not see the stage, I saw the cobblestone sidewalk, the dim lit alley, my Father on the ground, and as she walked away, the thick, leathery hair of the Snake Woman.
Now that you have heard, I am sure you think me mad. I have no facts, no evidence, only the sound. It’s the only thing I know. It’s not bound to the auditorium as it seemed to be. It pangs everywhere; with women on the street, old ladies in shops, and even Mothers with their children. I can feel her everywhere, my Grandmother, even though I know she’s resting in the earth. What the doctor describes as illness is actually awareness; Awareness of the Snake within every Woman. You have listened well and I thank you. The last thing I ask is that you beware. Keep tuned ear for the clicking, keep an open nose for the sour smell of ice cream and keep a sharp eye for the soft face that conceals the Snake Woman.
© 2008 Raven: The Thought Hole
Added on March 1, 2008
Raven: The Thought Hole
AboutI'm a sixteen year old male from Massachusetts (United States)...of course that information is most important and defines me. When I'm not writing, I'm reading, thinking, fencing, talking online, or.. more..