A Short Story for all ages by Lorna Stallman
Many nights Monique would lay awake and listen to coyotes howling and large cats fighting. That seemed to be the way of life on the edge of the great timberland she called home.
Each morning Monique crossed a narrow footbridge in front of her cottage to gather water from a crystal blue stream. She always carried a large stick with her for protection out of fear from the night before.
One day while fetching water, she spotted a beautiful swallowtail butterfly. Dropping her bucket and her stick, she tiptoed after it. Monique barely noticed the black and purple butterfly leading her deep into the thick, dark forest. Further and further she went until the swallowtail disappeared.
Monique quickly realized she was in an area of the forest she did not recognize. Lost and alone, she looked around for something familiar, but saw only trees, brushes and fallen logs. Monique had the creepy feeling that every eye in the forest was on her.
Covering her face with her hands, she broke down and sobbed. “How will I ever get back home?” Monique sat down on a hollowed-out log and tried to think and dried her tears with the ends of her long, dark braids.
Time passed. “Maybe if I retrace my steps, I can find my way back.” She jumped up at the thought, but one of her braids became tangled in a thorn bush, pulling her down. “Ouch!” she yelled, trying to break free. As she struggled to untangle her hair, Monique sensed that something hidden in the grass was moving toward her. Frantically she pulled harder, but was trembling too much to free herself.
Monique’s eyes widened when she heard the hiss.
“You are tangled in a bush and cannot get free.”
Monique looked over and saw a long scarlet kingsnake. His head swayed back and forth in mid-air as his thick, scaly body moved skillfully in coils closer to her.
The snake hissed slowly. “Maybe I can assssist you.”
Monique froze. She felt as though her heart was pounding out of her chest. “No. I’m fine,” she muttered.
“You don’t ssseem fine.” The snake’s red, crusty-looking head was closing in on her. With his long, forked tongue darting in and out, he was poised to strike. The kingsnake shot at Monique.