As I pulled my car in front of the house, Brandus sat on the tailgate of his truck, swinging his legs and talking to the guys across the street, who were throwing around a football. Voldemort and the dog ran around with the kids next door, and I smiled as I got out and walked around my car to get my stuff out of the passenger side.
A tiny five-year old alia stands in her backyard, bare feet balancing on a wooden garden partition. Her father works in the yard, while mother and both sisters either pick up sticks or otherwise exist in the same space.
alia’s oldest sister suddenly screams, one word floating out above everything else.
The family panics, five people running for the house, father grabbing up the tiny barefoot five-year old and hustling to get inside.
Brandus approaches me with one arm out to give me a hug.
Seven or eight now, small alia walks down her driveway to the house after playing in the neighborhood. In front of her, it moves, and she freezes.
It’s gone in a moment, but she is shaking and cannot bring herself to move her small feet for several minutes.
I glance down at his hand for a brief moment a second before he touches me.
It’s dead. It’s dead, and in the middle of the road. Young teenage alia stands on one side several feet away, staring at it.
She knows it’s dead, she’s not stupid. She knows it won’t hurt her. But she can’t seem to make herself walk past it.
After hesitating for several minutes, she gathers up her nerve and sprints past.
Her calves prickle uneasily for the next ten minutes, wondering if it’s coming after her, even though she knows that is ridiculous.
Wrapped around his hand, the hand he is TOUCHING ME WITH, is a motherfucking snake.
I push him backwards hard, hands on his chest and nowhere near the thing his is holding.
He is still smiling, but the smile fades into confusion when I manage to say, past tight throat and restrained scream, that I can’t believe he would do this.
I don’t care that he looks like he doesn’t understand. He SHOULD. He knows I don’t go near him when he has it out of its cage. He was there the day I nearly crawled up the inside of his car door when he held one and it moved too quickly in his hands.
I make it inside, I make it upstairs, I don’t even take my computer or a book, I just crawl into the bed.
I spend the next hour in the bedroom upstairs, shaking, crying, and not talking to the jackass that just touched me with my biggest fear.