Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Microstory 1742: Sea Serpent

I don’t move at first. I have no idea whether you’re supposed to run away from a serpent, or stand still. Maybe she can’t see me if I stand still? I try to reach for my phone, but that seems to freak her out. She darts her head towards my hand, so I pull back. She relaxes a bit. I try to take one slow step backwards, but she doesn’t like that either. She seems to feel most comfortable with me where I am, and her where she is. I don’t get the impression that she plans on hurting me, but she considers any movement to be a sign of aggression. I notice something a little funny about her, since all I can do now is watch, and pray I don’t become the prey. I’m no serpent expert, obviously, but I’ve never seen one with such a flat tail. I can’t imagine that she can slither very well with that thing. Perhaps it’s meant to brush leaves and grass out of the way? No, that doesn’t make any sense. She’s already passed over any obstacle by then. Maybe it’s there to hide her tracks from predators. This sounds like a decent evolutionary advantage, though I would hardly call her worthy of being anyone’s meal. She perked up when I had to clear my throat. I doubt anything could sneak up on her, whether they were following tracks or not. I look around, careful to move my head as little as possible, and sniff the air. You know what, I think we’re pretty close to Danaid Inlet. Oh, that must be what that flat tail is for. She’s not a land serpent, but a sea serpent. That’s also probably why she’s so on edge, because she’s not close enough to water. I couldn’t say how long she can stay on land, so it could be indefinite. Or she’ll eventually die, and I’ll be able to walk away. No, I don’t want that. She’s not doing anything wrong. I want to save her.

I look up to get my bearings. I’m a little lost, but I know the direction of the ocean. The inlet is to the Northwest of here. Hoping the serpent doesn’t decide to just attack me on the spot, I move a little towards the water. She moves to match me. She doesn’t get closer, or farther away. I move more, she mirrors me again. I keep going, always keeping my eye on her as she follows. The trek is rough. I’m sure the trail will eventually get us there, but who knows how long that would take? I just want to get to the water as fast as possible so this girl can get back to her life. I’ll find my way home after that, once I’m finally safe. She continues to slither next to me as I’m trudging through the brush, and over the rocks. I would be embarrassed, but the serpent seems just as awkward on land as I am. Also, she’s an animal, so I don’t think she has the capacity to judge others. But what do I know? She appears to be following me to the inlet, like she knows she can trust me to lead her there. After a few hours, we’re on the beach. I did it. I can’t believe I actually did it. Now she can go off to where she belongs. She doesn’t move, though. She just sits there, staring at the water like she’s enjoying the beautiful view as much as I am. I step closer, she matches, just like she has been. I take a few more steps. She slithers again. I’m starting to think she thinks I’m her mother, and we’re supposed to go in together. All right, fine. I’m already cold and tired; how is getting wet gonna make things worse? I wade in, and she gleefully slithers in next to me. Only then does she seem to realize she knows how to take it from here. After a splash—which my headcanon has decided to categorize as a sea serpent’s way of saying thank you—she swims away. I step out of the water, and sit on the sand to watch the sunset. I fall asleep there, dreaming of serpentine friends. I awaken with a little unexpected new perspective.

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