The Little Brown Snake

There is a small brown snake that lives in my heart and from time to time it comes out and it bites people. This is something I always regret very much. I wanted to make up a story about this SBS. ‘The small brown snake…’ I began, but I could go no further. I had nothing more to say. My head was as empty as an empty conch cell that has been washed up on the shore. There is nothing in it. If you hold it to your ear you will hear sad ghosts whispering.


‘Whisper away, oh you ghosts!’ I declared histrionically, ‘but don’t bother me with your shit because I don’t care about it.’ I felt straightaway better after I’d said this – I took the shell away from my ear and threw it back into the sea. Sand hoppers hopped all around me, they hopped onto my bare feet and I immediately became afraid that they would swarm on me and bite me. Perhaps the ghosts had gotten into the sand hoppers, I worried. Perhaps they were now going to attack and bite me until my feet bleed. Perhaps they would swarm right up my legs. I knew then that I could not get rid of the whispering ghosts as easily as that.


In my mind’s eye I could see a grey tide of sand hoppers swarming all over me – tiny drops of blood appearing wherever they bit. In the distance I could hear the continuous roar of the surf – the mighty ocean of the unconscious mind was breaking on the reefs of my rational-conceptual mind, it occurred to me. The result of that clash was sand – lots of it! Sand hoppers played happily in that sand, and fiddler crabs fiddled.


I always tried to do my best to be friendly to the people that I meet but despite my very best intentions the small brown snake would still sometimes crawl out of my heart and bite them. Its fangs are highly venomous and the bite causes great pain. I have no control over that small snake – it acts according to its own law. I am not responsible for its actions.


I wanted to make up a story about the SBS and put it in my little book of stories with all the rest but I couldn’t think of anything to say. I am empty – completely and utterly empty. I don’t have any thoughts in my head at all; I don’t even know who I am. I’m like a bit of driftwood washed up on the shore after a great storm – all distinguishing features have been washed away by the pitiless waves. Washed away by Edgar Allen Poe’s pitiless waves! I’ve been washed clean, bleached out – I have no more identity. I have been washed clean. You wouldn’t know me if you walked by me and neither would I. I’d walk right by myself without a second look.


I’ve been washed clean of all distinguishing features and I am completely empty like a seashell washed up on the beach after a storm. If you put me to your ear you might hear the whisper of distant ghosts. Ghosts won’t find me now however. I’m not anywhere to be found. How can you find someone who isn’t there? ‘Search, you ghosts – search!’ I cry out loudly, ‘search as hard as you like but you never find me!’


I am searching for solutions on a distant seashore. All around me the muted crash of the surf. ‘Where are the solutions, where are the solutions?’ I ask myself. Where are they to be found? How will I recognise them if I do find them them? Will they look like bits of bleached white driftwood washed up after some nameless storm? Or will they look like empty crab shells, their blind eyes on stalks staring sightlessly into the limitless blue sky above?






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