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We’re walking down to the jetty. Everyone else is down at the dam already, being bitten by horseflies. My mum is holding my hand, and we are singing a song called WE WALK STRAIGHT SO YOU BETTER GET OUT THE WAY. That’s the whole song, chorus and verse. You swing your arms when you sing it. I am shouting it as loud as I can so my cousins can hear and be jealous. It’s Easter Monday, and I am still smarting from the losses accrued at yesterday’s egg hunt. Every single person who was ever born is better at finding Easter eggs than me. I am sick with the shame of it.
It is possible that the walk and the song, then, are undertaken for the purposes of consolation. My mum knows me. She knows how much I hate an Easter egg hunt, and she knows how much I love this song. The two of us are WE WALK STRAIGHTing along the path to the dam, and my spirits begin to lift. I kick my feet out and admire my little red sandals. What I am saying to the world is: Get a load of me in these shoes. Get a load of me and my mum as we walk down to the dam.
In the middle of all of this I look down at the puff-adder which has materialised in front of us. It’s there on the path and we are WE WALK STRAIGHTing directly into it. It lifts itself up and puffs itself out in the textbook style. It hisses like a cartoon snake. In the memory I have of this meeting, it actually spits at us. This is not normal behaviour for a puff adder, I don’t think. The relevant literature does not support my recollection, and also informs me that the bite of a puff adder is almost never fatal. Still, I will tell you that it looks at us with murder in its swirly hypnotic eyes.
My mum lifts me up with one arm, the whole of me, like a woman who could hoist a car up off a baby. She has me somewhere up round her shoulders and we are running up the path back to the house. My mum is whisperingJesuschristjesuschristjesuschristjesuschrist as she runs. This is all technically terrifying, but I am just about ecstatic by the time we get back to the house. My mum has started her horrified laugh, and she won’t be able to stop for days. Imagine it bit us. Imagine its teeth when it bit us through our sandals. It is a proper adventure. We could have actually died, you know. I practise saying it to my cousins. They can stick their ability to find eggs up their butts. Who was it that nearly got killed by a snake? Me.