Tina glanced out the kitchen window as her custom was as a multi-tasking mother. So many things to juggle cleaning, cooking, washing, and keeping an eye out for her tiny one who enjoyed romping around the back yard and playing on the swing set her husband Doug had constructed over the weekend.
She was happy Doug had spent weeks on side and rear fencing which they’d judged to be inadequate for the purpose of keeping little adventurers in place when they purchased the property. She was particularly pleased he’d secured the fences blocking the back and side yards from the front yard which only had a knee-high hedge to separate it from the street and an open driveway to the three-vehicle garage. This locked in her van, the boat and Doug’s truck after work with its built-in toolboxes used for construction work. The rest of his equipment was kept at the office complex and storage sheds at the edge of town.
Tina was thrilled with her new home. They’d previously lived in a small apartment as both had worked and saved to establish the business before considering a family and a new home to house hoped-for children. They’d planned for Tina to give up her job as soon as they were established to raise their family. Tina had wanted five children but Doug being a practical man did some calculations on expected cost of raising them and after their first argument in the marriage they’d compromised on three children as all they could afford to give a good education in preparing them for life ahead.
Tina’s eyes darted between the bread mix she was preparing to bake and the back yard. Little Alice was out of sight, and she called her name. Not receiving a response, she moved position so she could look diagonally out the window and caught sight of Alice bending down by some shrubs. She called again and there was no answer. Mother’s instinct kicked in and she washed flour off her hands and dried them on her apron heading for the back door opening onto a sheltered deck with steps down to the lawn below quickly. She hastened outside for a closer look calling again.
Alice looked up and began to run to her mother smiling. “Look, mama I found a big pretty worm and it’s hugging me.”
Tina screamed and her neighbor hanging out clothes in the back yard ran to the fence and peeped over as the scream sounded urgent enough to investigate. Elderly Mrs. Brown had adopted Tina as a substitute daughter and the two women got along well together. Mrs. Brown frequently looked after Alice while her mother went shopping so she was tuned in to what was happening at her neighbor’s place. What she saw had the old woman rushing to the front of her home and up Tina’s driveway grabbing the childproof gate opener giving access to Tina’s back yard. Her hip was hurting but she ran half limping to join Tina and Alice by the bushes.
Tina was desperately running around the child holding the python’s tail trying to unwind it and Alice began to cry.
“Mama the worm is hugging too tight take it off me.”
Just as Mrs. Brown arrived at the scene the python angry at Tina’s attempts to loosen its hold lunged out and fastened on Tina’s arm holding its tail. Tina cried out in pain as the serpent fastened itself preventing her from her attempt at unwinding it from Alice. Mrs. Brown’s brain went into overdrive and her eyes did a rapid circuit of the back yard. She spied a hedge clipper lying on the deck Doug had forgotten to put away and rushed over picking it up and heading back dragging her aching hip along. With one deft snipping movement the bleeding head of the python dangled from Tina’s arm, and she shook her arm violently trying to dislodge it. Mrs. Brown then unwound the python’s pulsating body from the child. Alice rushed to her mother in alarm as she saw her mother desperately trying to dislodge the python’s head and held tightly to her mother’s leg screaming with fright.
Mrs. Brown grunted as she picked up the python’s writhing body and dragged it over to the fence picking it up with great difficulty and dumping it over into her yard then turned to the stricken woman and child. She calmly returned and prized the serpent’s mouth apart releasing the head from the hysterical woman’s arm. The head was dumped into her yard to join the still pulsating body. Best she dig a hole and bury it in her own yard as snakes were a protected species and the government would probably levy a huge fine in spite of desperate circumstances making the python’s death the only thing to do. These bureaucrats would value the life of the animal higher than human life she thought.
But first to get Tina and Alice settled down. Pythons are not venomous but a bite could easily become infected so that needed to be cared for. Mrs. Brown grew up on a farm so knew how to handle herself with creepy crawlies. Best leave them alone but if they attacked, she knew just what to do. She took the sobbing women inside the home and phoned the ambulance service explaining the mother of the home had been bitten by a python and needed someone to care for the wound. Paramedics were there in a flash and as she saw the ambulance heading up the driveway she turned to Tina.
“Let me do the talking girl. Don’t say anything.”
The paramedics disinfected Tina’s arm and applied dressings asking about the incident and Mrs. Brown answered all their questions. Where was the python? Last time they saw it went over the back fence. She pointed to trees over the fence at the back of Doug and Tina’s property carefully avoiding the direction of her own home. Alice had been put to bed in her room and the door locked to make sure she didn’t supply any further details. Apart from a little bruising there was no need of any medical treatment for the little girl. The paramedics went to the back fence and looked out over scrubland at the back. They returned to the house and gave Tina a sedative as she was still shaking after the event.
One of the paramedics addressed Tina. “You’re lucky. Judging by the marks from that bite it was a midsize python but big enough to do damage. You could have ended up in real trouble if not dead. Why did you go near that beast?”
Mrs. Brown answered again. ‘She’s too distressed to talk yet so I’ll stay with her until she calms down. She was clipping one of the bushes and it lunged out and bit her. Didn’t know it was in there. I’ll take her to the doctor for a follow up tomorrow. Thanks for coming.” She saw them to the door.
She phoned her husband Carl who was watching football on TV at home. “Carl I’m next door at Tina’s. There’s been a bit of a drama here I’m attending to will tell you about it when I get home. I threw something over the fence you need to go look at and bury quickly before some dumb government official turns up.” There was laughter at the other end of the line.
She then turned to Tina. “Shall I phone Doug or are you able to cope now daughter?”
Tina shook her head. “I’ll be OK now Matilda. I don’t know how to thank you enough for saving the both of us.”
The old woman smiled. “Are you able to finish the bread or should I do it for you?”
“No, I’m recovering from the shock now and it will do me good to finish the job to take my mind of that horrible experience.”
“Me and Carl could use some of that for supper if you’re in shape to bring it over after its baked.”
“Then I’ll bake rolls instead of bread and send some over.” She gave the old woman a hug as she departed limping down the driveway.
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