- Vol. 08
- Chapter 07
A serpent slipped into the house one night through an open window and found a place to hide.
The husband did not know and neither did the wife. Of course they did not know, because who would be foolish enough to let a serpent in so easily?
The serpent made a comfortable nest at the bottom of a cupboard the couple no longer opened. The cupboard was dark and dusty, mothball scented. It was a sad place stuffed full of things that the husband and wife had discarded from the lives they had lived in another country, when they had been happy.
Curled into old clothes that no longer fitted nor suited the climate, the serpent was warm and content. It was also hungry. So it ate up the bad feeling in the house. Its tongue flickered every time the husband rolled his eyes. Its mouth opened wide as the wife complained. It fed on each small shrug of irritation, drew sustenance from each word said in anger. Then came the feast nights, when the arguments roiled through the house for hours. No room was spared, no door unslammed. The serpent gorged itself.
Months passed. The serpent stayed hidden and it kept feeding. It listened and grew fat, shedding skin after skin. In the darkness of the cupboard, the colour left its scales. In the darkness, it turned a pallid white, a moon white, and its eyes grew large and wide. The serpent filled the cupboard now, splintering the shelves, displacing the junk. It was knotted in on itself, muscles cramped. It was time to leave. It was time to mate.
The husband did not know. But late one afternoon, the wife went upstairs and found the cupboard door open. She looked inside. The old familiar clothes were no longer neatly folded, the space was in disarray. Something had been living there.
From across the hall, the serpent watched as she picked up one of its shed skins and held it to the light. The membrane was silken, gossamer fine. The wife gently placed one bare foot after the other inside the skin and pulled it up around her body. It fitted her like nothing had ever fitted her before. It caressed her, clung to her, and she uttered a sigh. The serpent knew this was a sigh of pleasure.
By the time the husband knew, it was too late. The fight had already been lost.