Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Microstory 1287: The Father and the Snake

A father and his son were coming back from the market one day when the son accidentally stepped on a pile of eggs. The father examined the remains, and discovered that they belonged to a snake. The son was upset about what he had done, but his father assured him that these things happen. He was also afraid the mother would return, and be stricken with sadness for what happened, but the father also knew that this variety of snake always abandons her eggs, and would move on with her life, never knowing something had happened. Unfortunately, he was wrong. This particular mother snake was a little different. For whatever reason she felt the urge to return to her nest, and check on her babies. She was horrified by what she found there, and even though it was not in her nature, felt compelled to seek revenge on whoever killed her young. She sniffed around, and picked up the scent. Then she slithered off to hunt for the culprit. She found him, and bit the boy in the ankle. The boy nearly died, but the father acted quickly, and got him medical attention. He was angry, though, so he hunted the mother snake right back, and cut off her tail with a shovel. Now even angrier, the snake returned to the father’s home, and bit several of his cows. She bit each one of them many times, in the dead of night, so he would not be able to tend to them in time. Angrier too, the father went out to get his revenge again, but this time, he was determined to kill her, and just be done with it. But the son did not want this to happen. While he was still recovering, he struggled out of bed, and followed his father to the woods. He finally caught up with him just as they were coming upon the snake. She was prepared for a fight, and so was the father. “No,” the son declared. “You will not do this. No good can come of it.” He continued his speech, trying desperately to dissuade them from their bloodlust. The cycle of violence had to end, and both of them knew it. Neither believed the other should concede first. It was just that each worried the other wouldn’t take kindly to a truce, and that it might make things worse. But someone had to risk it. The boy’s words were enough to change them both for the better. The father apologized for the snake’s young, and the snake apologized for his cattle. She tried to apologize for the boy, but the boy insisted that all was forgiven on his end. The father and the snake did not become friends that day, but they were no longer enemies.

This story was inspired by, and revised from, an Aesop Fable called The Man and the Serpent.

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