My body had gotten into a nice rhythm. A breeze sent a heavenly waft from the citrus blooms along the running trail.
I came to the narrow sidewalk under the bridge. I disliked this patch - it was very narrow, barely wide enough for two people to walk comfortably. Many times there would be a water puddle or contents of a discarded cup lying around. This would require me to slow down and watch my step. I imagined bats lived here, in the dark corners, where light wouldn’t reach. As I passed by here, I would be concerned that a bird would send its poop on me. I disliked it even more when I would see a dog owner walk with a mean looking dog from the opposite direction. I would slow my pace as the duo approached, fearful that the dog might grab my ankle if I were running. But the dogs here are too well behaved; it would pass by without even sniffing and I would heave a sigh of relief. My breath would quicken when I would spot a hulky male coming from the other side. On such occasions, I would try to recollect some prayers, only partially meet his eyes and move away as quickly as possible, always checking my shoulder. The road under the bridge was usually busy with traffic and there wasn’t a remote possibility of anything happening. But such is my mind….
It is on this queasy patch that I saw her. I came across a chubby kid first. I wondered why he was alone without a guardian. Then at the far end of the tunnel, I saw a tall figure entering. “May be that’s his mother” I thought. But in a flash of a second I realized that she was THE 'snake girl'. I bolted…
She is fair, blonde, tall and walks gracefully. The two times that I have seen her, she was wearing shorts and a T-shirt. Slung across her shoulder like a backpack was a snake, a python I think. A friend had pointed her to me when we were driving, but I didn’t see her then and it probably didn’t register.
After a few days, I was walking back home after my evening walk. I saw a girl walking towards me. From a distance it appeared like she was carrying a backpack. She was probably 20ft away when it hit me that it was a snake and not a backpack. It was more out of disgust than fear that I turned around and ran to find my friend, eager to tell her what I had just seen. I was a little excited that evening after this episode, but I laughed at myself as I recounted the incident to many. I decided I would stop, talk to her and have a good look at her snake the next time our paths crossed. I far from stopped during our 2nd encounter, I probably ran faster than before.
Every time I am under this narrow, dimly lit bridge or approaching a blind corner, my mind turns to this girl and I worry - will she emerge?