Once upon a time, there was a little girl who had snakes instead of hair, just like her mother and father and grandparents and great-grandparents did. You wouldn’t be able to pronounce her real name, and my computer doesn’t have the right symbols to spell it out anyway, so for the purposes of this story we’ll call her Snakeylocks.
The lovely, grass-green snakes of her hair had an extra special talent. If anything met their eyes, it was turned to stone. This meant that as she went skipping through the forest, birds dropped out of the sky, butterflies stopped fluttering, and squirrels fell out of trees.
Snakeylocks was used to this, of course, and ignored all the little woodland creature statues as she picked flowers. Flowers have no eyes, and so they remained nice and soft and colorful. She gathered an extra large bouquet and was just looking for somewhere to put it, when she saw a house in a clearing further along the path. “Perfect,” she said.
Without even knocking once, she opened the door and stepped inside. You might think that she should know better than to enter someone’s home uninvited, but you’d be wrong. Any house she’d ever entered had been inhabited by the usual boring statues that she always saw everywhere, so she just assumed that houses were part of the usual natural terrain of the world. Do you knock on the trees when you enter a forest? Neither did she.
Once inside the house, she saw a table set for breakfast. How convenient. She was feeling hungry. She left the bouquet of flowers in the orange juice jug, because orange juice tastes terrible and needs to make itself useful somehow. And then she washed her hands, said a blessing on the food, and took a bite.
As you may have guessed, the first bowl was too hot, the second too cold, and the third just right. So, she mixed them all together in a big bowl she found in the cupboard and shared the meal with her snakey hair. It was lovely.
Full and empty-handed, she decided to explore the rest of the house. Houses were always so different from the cave she lived in with her family. They were so fragile and temporary, like the flowers she liked to pick. In fact, if they were a bit smaller, she’d pick a few to take home and leave around the cave to play in when she was bored.
Speaking of playing, Snakeylocks was pleased to find rocking chairs in the living room. Perfect! She jumped onto the first one feet first. It rocked back and forth, but wasn’t really springy. It was too hard. She leaped over the arms onto the next rocking chair. She sank right away into the cushions as it rocked back and forth. Too soft. She leaped onto the last and bounced up a little into the air. It was just right.
She jumped and jumped on the rocking chair as it rocked wildly back and forth. Eventually the whole thing collapsed into a satisfying heap on the floor. Her snakey hair hissed in complaint about feeling seasick and Snakeylocks sighed. She was feeling a little tired. Maybe they’d all feel better after a nap.
She climbed the stairs and found the usual bedrooms. There were no sensible nests in houses, but you have to make do with what you have sometimes. She entered the first room and made a nest of the blankets and pillows on the bed.
It was terrible. Some of them were too rough and some were too slippery. She and her snakes hissed in displeasure. She went to the next bedroom. The bed was smaller, but the blankets and pillow felt just right. She pushed them around until the nest was perfect and settled in to sleep as her snakey hair hissed lovely lullabies about caves and the ocean and lots and lots of statues.
She woke when her snakes hissed a warning. There were sounds downstairs. That meant that it was time to find the statues. Statues were boring. She sat up and stretched. Outside the window there was a tree with a convenient branch. It looked like she could jump to the branch from the window. That sounded fun.
Within moments, Snakeylocks was out the window, leaping from branch to branch and shrieking in delight as her snakey hair hissed complaints, and squirrels, birds and butterflies fell from the treetops to the forest floor.
Behind her, a confused family of bears opened the door to the bedroom she’d left behind and examined the nest of blankets. “I think it went out the window,” the baby bear said. “It was closed when we left. If we make more oatmeal, can we stay here while it cools?”
And they did, cleaning up the mess while they waited and ordering a new little rocking chair online. It wasn’t until they sat down for their very late breakfast that they noticed the odd bouquet of flowers in the orange juice. It was the strangest morning they ever had, and they still talk about it today.
Snakeylocks is still out there, picking flowers and visiting houses. So, if you hear something go bump in the night, maybe it’s not a good idea to check it out. You never know who might be jumping in your rocking chairs and eating your oatmeal, after all.