Teabox Tales - A Little World Made Just For Me
This piece is about Mara, my beloved 6-year-old ball python. I originally wrote it as an assessment piece for one of my modules but lost all confidence in it the night before it was due and wrote something else in a panic. But it's still a neat little piece of writing, and it has polished up quite nicely with some editing. I love the impact of the very last sentence.
I live in a little world made just for me.
There are two suns in my world, and when day changes to night it happens all at once, with a click that rattles my jawbones. One of my suns is a black sun. He gives me warmth but no light, and he lives in a cage because he can hurt me. I climb up his winding tail and push my face up against the bars, his dangerous heat kissing the pits of my cheeks just hot enough to sting. I like to tease my black sun in this way because I know he cannot get me.
One of my suns is a white sun, and she gives me light but no warmth. She lives in a nest of silver that cradles her light, nurturing it to be even brighter. When I climb her tail and nudge her with my nose, her light feels cool in my pits. Once, I nudged her too hard, and she fell out of the heavens and down to earth making night come before its time. I hid when she fell, ashamed at what I had done, but when I came back she was shining in the sky once again.
When it rains in my world, it rains all at once. It hisses like a traitorous foe, but I do not mind when the rain visits me in my territory, because it feels nice against my skin. It does not come from a cloud, but a green belly with a red mouth that spits the droplets. Once it has spat enough, the rain removes its head and empties its stomach into my pool, and I drink from it. When my skin turns white and itchy, I sit in my pool, curling up beneath the water with only my head peeking out to keep watch. There are none that can harm me in my world, but I watch all the same. When the skin peels away, it looks like a ghost of me. I leave the ghost out to be found, or sometimes I bury it, and it is always taken away in the end.
When I eat, food comes down from the sky with its tail clamped between metal jaws. It is cruel for me to hunt, or at least that is what I have heard, so the food I eat is cold and long dead. The jaws wiggle and shake around, trying to trick me into thinking that the dead thing it holds is alive, but I cannot be fooled. My mouth can tell a live thing from a dead thing, it is not a very difficult task.
Once, I refused to eat for a long time, demanding that I get living prey. This was never heeded, of course. The jaws danced dead meat in front of me for weeks and weeks until we came to a compromise.
The solution was elegant enough; I would eat the cold dead things only if they were garnished with the taste of the still-living. It does not fool my mouth by much, but it works just enough to allow me to keep it down, so I will continue to eat for now. Eating is an investment; I must take my food whole, its shape a lump on my sleek form after I swallow it, and I must sleep in my cave until my body has finished digesting.
I am a cold and slow creature, and I am big enough to have no further growing to do, so eating often doesn’t interest me. There is no fun in stalking a dead thing.
When I was small and fast and new to the world, I dined voraciously on little pink things, using the energy within them and quickly wanting more. But now I am big, and my meals are similarly large. The energy they hold keeps me from wanting for a long time, but that makes my human worry.
Oh! My human! How could I have forgotten about them? What a strange thing they are!
Nothing can prepare you for experiencing a human. Conceptually, they are all wrong. They are the very opposite of me, and everything I hold dear. I think I am repulsed by all of them, with the exception of the one I call mine. We have become familiar with one another, and we have come to an understanding.
They are warm like prey but do not try to eat them. I have made that mistake. My mouth can stretch to quite a size, but it can only fit one of my human’s branches inside. A human has five branches on each trunk and four trunks overall. They have a body like ours, but it is stubby and fat and useless at copying the superior rectilinear crawl, so they have to use their ungainly trunks to bumble around. Unlike a tree’s branches, the branches of their uppermost trunks can grasp as a mouth does, and they can carry you around in them. If you push your listening bones right up to the spot where the branches join the trunk, you can feel the beat of their heart inside of them, and savour the whoosh of their blood. It is said that a human produces its own warmth, and they do not need to bask beneath a black sun. They trap their self-made heat under the layers they wear like extra skins so they can go out in any weather without getting fatigued.
It was my human who built me my little world. I am grateful, but I cannot let them know that because then they will grow cocky. You cannot let a human have even an inch of your respect, because then they will take a mile and claim that they own you. You should leave your little world without permission and go out visiting. If you visit your human in their bed while they are sleeping they will always know who is boss for as long as they live.