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  • Lijing Cobb

Garry

Out of the corner of my eye I see something slithering. My heart in my throat I jump, yelp, and start to pull away. My legs are like lead, and my skin crawls. Ewww, not a…

“Snake?” A voice materializes, crisp and resounding. In the fall air it sounds like a dream.


I look down and do a quick search. My mind does the calculation. I’m all alone, at my door. The door is shut. And someone is speaking to me. Could it be the…


“Snake?” The voice predicts my thought again. Oh my good god! THE FREAKING SNAKE IS TALKING TO ME!


“No need to be insulting, my lady. I won’t hurt you.” The snake continues. Let’s call it Garry, because I don’t even like the word snake…


“Ok, Garry is fine.” Garry agrees. Wow, Garry is in my head, hearing my thoughts.


“I just want to offer my service.” Garry carries on. I’m not looking at Garry. I’m afraid of what I’ll see. This is not right. A…Garry is talking to me. I’m sure you agree, this is not right. Garry doesn’t talk.


“It seems like you are afraid of me.” Garry doesn’t wait for me to accept his service. Maybe this is a dream. Wake up, LJ, wake up! “Have we ever met?”


I don’t look at Garry, but I assume not. No, I haven’t met Garry, and I wish that I would never meet you. The farther away you are from me, the better off I am.


“Is that so?” Of course Garry hears my thought. Ok, that’s how it’s gonna be. “And why is that?” Here comes the first question.


Because you slither, you have sharp teeth, you bite, you are ungrateful, spiteful, treacherous. Ugh, you are so icky!


“Wow, that’s a long list of accusations. May I ask if you have any evidence to prove that they are all truth and nothing but the truth?” Garry asks politely. I cannot detect malice in its voice.


Evidence? What evidence? There was a fable that I read about a farmer and a Garry. The farmer picked up a frozen Garry and tucked it in his shirt to revive it, but when Garry woke up it bit the farmer! And the farmer died!


“Hmm, it could be. My kind generally don’t like to be tucked in shirts unless we are accustomed to that sort of thing. If I wake up from a long sleep and find myself in a strange place being smothered, I might react by biting too. I’m not sure. But lady, I didn’t do it.” Garry finishes his analysis.


Well, whenever I see your kind in movies, there is always scary music and treachery going on. You and evil are synonymous! You just do bad things to good people! You bite and people die!…


“And, I see that it’s ok if I bite bad people and they die, because they deserve it, right?” Yep, Garry hears me, every bit of it.


“So you act this way towards me because I, Garry, in this body, did all of that’s in your head? Or is it because I am a Garry, and therefore I must do what other Garrys do?” Garry presses on.


Wow, a snake, yes snake, not Garry, is trying to use human psychology to persuade a human that its kind is not what we think it is. That’s kind of cool. And freaky.


Garry doesn’t say anything. I look down where he is supposed to be. Lo and behold, Garry is…


“A little person? A cute little baby boy?” Garry pushes words out of his chubby cheeks. Oh my good lord, this is getting a little too far. Where am I? What’s happening? Do you believe this? Neither do I!


“Ok, lady,” Garry sighs and hangs his head. “I’m just trying to show you that you can choose to see me however you want. I never hurt you. I never want to hurt you. I’m just like this little boy that you see right now, with these chubby cheeks that you’d love to squeeze. But as soon as I take the form that you love to hate, I’m all that you fear and hate. Does that seem fair to you?”


I sneak another peek at Garry. He’s still a chubby little boy, lost in thought. Well, I do have a friend who loves snakes. He and his wife live with several snakes in their house. I’ve been to their house many times, and the snakes just sleep in their little glass houses…


“You tolerate us Garrys when we are in cages, even though you still think we are icky. You think we belong in cages so you can feel safe, don’t you? Or the alternative is…” Garry doesn’t finish his thought, but I know where he’s going, because I’m there too. I’m beginning to feel a little uneasy, not because a snake is talking to me, but because he’s beginning to make sense. Please wake up. This is the oddest thing ever. Ever!


“Well, lady,” Garry heaves another sigh, and in front of my very eyes he grows from a chubby boy into my….Oh my frick frack, my very own husband! “Here I am. I know you love him. But it is still Garry talking to you. Garry the snake. You see, and you don’t see, that your husband and Garry are the same. I slither and you hate me. Your husband walks and you love him. Pretty simplistic, don’t you think?”


It’s not that simple! My mind starts to scream…


“Yes, it is. You know it is. This snake that talks is the same as your husband who walks. We are all made from the same stuff, and yet you have so much hatred for me, who’s never done anything bad to you, or to anyone for that matter. This snake has never hurt anyone, but lady, you are not the only one who hates me. Lots of you do.” Garry, in the form of my husband who sleeps in my bed every night, finishes speaking. This is going to cause issues for me. Major therapy necessary. I don’t know if I can sleep in the same bed as my husband anymore. What if he turns into a snake? What if he is in fact a snake? My husband! Garry! Help me!


“Don’t worry,” Garry hears me once again, and says matter-of-factly, “when we are done I’ll make sure you don’t remember anything. You’ll just wake up as if this is just a dream. It doesn’t matter. People won’t believe you anyway. You won’t believe it yourself very soon.”


My husband, no, Garry, no, the snake, turns to go. I don’t know whether I should reach out or say something. I haven’t said a word, and yet I feel like I’ve confessed a lifetime of sins. Once I saw a snake completely squished in the middle of my driveway, and even that dead it made my skin crawl. My heart raced as I walked around that deadness, fearing a dark magic that would bring it back to life that very moment to strike at me. I would have deserved it if it had happened that way. I was being so ridiculous.


Garry pauses and turns around, a twinkle in his eyes. A smile starts to form around those familiar lips. Of course he hears my memory about the dead snake.


“I’m glad.” He says, and pauses while he searches for his next words. “It’s ok to be afraid. I’m afraid of humans all the time, because I feel the fear and hatred in them. But I’ve been around you for a while now, watching you. And I felt like a little talk could be good for both of us. Maybe you’d end up with the thought that if a snake could talk, this might be something it would say. And that would be a good thought for both of us. We have a lot in common, more than you know and are ready to accept.” He flashes me a smile I could definitely accept.


Someone taps me on the shoulder. I look back, nobody is there. So I turn around to look at Garry again, and he’s gone.


Someone taps me on the shoulder again. I open my eyes. I’m in my bed. My little daughter is awake from a nightmare, sobbing. I open my arms and hug her into the warmth of my bed.

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