HI 70 / LO 46
This piece of flash fiction is inspired by one of my friends who is a grandma. One morning, her granddaughter was still up at 1:30 a.m. because she said there were snakes in her bed. The books listed are the real ones from this incident. Everything else, well, let’s hope it’s ficiton.
The snakes were in her bed again. At first they only came some nights, but as winter settled in, they settled at the bottom, near Caitlin’s feet.
Caitlin knew they were cold, but that was no excuse. She did not want to share her bed with a bunch of cold-blooded snakes.
“Grammy! Make the snakes go away!”
“Caitlin, for the last time, there are no snakes in your bed.”
“Yes there are to! They’re cold.”
“I’m sure the snakes are cold, but they’re not in your bed. I promise.”
“Now, go to sleep.”
Caitlin did not go to sleep. She felt the slithering at her feet as the snakes readjusted themselves. All would be quiet for a while, then Caitlin would accidentally kick the pile of snakes when she turned over, and then the coils would have to rearrange themselves again.
“Grammy?” she called.
“Grammy?” she called a little louder.
Still, no answer.
“Grammy!” Caitlin screamed.
Grammy ran in. “For heavens sakes, it’s 1:30 in the morning! What do you want?”
“I want the snakes to go to sleep so I can go to sleep.”
“For the last time, there are no snakes.”
“Yes, there are so!”
Grammy looked around the room, but she’d forgotten to grab her glasses when she heard Caitlin scream. She thought of what her mom had done for her when she couldn’t go to sleep.
“Caitlin. I’m tired. I have to work tomorrow. Have you tried reading the snakes a story?”
Caitlin sat up a little straighter. “No.”
“Reading always helps people go to sleep. I guess it probably works for snakes, too. I’ve never tried it.”
“I’ll try it, Grammy. You’ll see!”
“OK.” Grammy bent over to kiss Caitlin goodnight.
“Grammy, can I borrow some of your books? Because they’re longer than my books.”
Grammy went back to bed. Caitlin first picked one of her own books: “A Moose for Jessica.” And two of Grammy’s: “The Parables of Peanuts” (because it looked like it was about Snoopy). And “Mornings Like This: Found Poems” by Annie Dillard. Because she liked the picture on the front. And when she opened the long book, it was full of short things. She guessed those were the “found poems.”
Caitlin went back to her room and turned on the light.
Grammy did not object. She was already snoring in her room with Granddaddy.
Caitlin arranged her pillows behind her back and sat cross-legged on the floor, the way her teacher did when she read a story.
“Hey, snakes,” Caitlin said. “It’s time to go to sleep. So I’m gonna read you a story.”
The snakes settled down.
Caitlin opened the Annie Dillard book to just wherever it fell open, and she started reading in the middle of a poem called “Mornings Like This”:
Mornings like this: I look
About the earth and the heavens:
There is not enough to believe —
The snakes were happy. They stayed still the rest of the night.
Caitlin fell asleep with her book over her chest.
The snakes slept at the foot of the bed, and when morning came, they left with the sunrise.
While Caitlin was still sleeping, Grammy quietly stole back her Annie Dillard book.