Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Cousin(s) (05/22/08)
TITLE: The Snake.
By Esther Gellert
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I was sick and tired of my little sisters whining, even though I knew exactly how she felt. We had been in the car for almost eight hours now and I was keen to reach my Uncle’s farm in South Australia. I couldn’t wait to see my cousins again either.
Michael and Gabriel were just a few years older than me, but they seemed to know so much more about life. The stories they told were full of adventure and excitement. Auntie Shirl said that although she’d named her boys after angels, it hadn’t made them angelic. I thought they lived up to the angels Dad read about in the Bible. Mike and Gabe were always bold and brave. On their camping trip to the Northern Territory last summer a six foot croc had crawled into their tent while they were out rock climbing. It almost bit Gabe’s leg off when they got back, but Mike scared it away with a flaming branch from the campfire. I grinned as I thought of some of the other things they’d done. They’d stolen emu eggs from the nest, been swooped by wedge-tailed eagles, attacked by dingos and they had even seen a Tasmanian tiger.
Dad and Mum said I was too young to go camping with Mike and Gabe last summer, but now I’m twelve Dad has promised to let me camp out for a couple of days.
When we arrived at Uncle Pete and Auntie Shirl’s farm, Mike and Gabe were already out on the motorbikes in the back paddock. Mum said I wasn’t allowed to join them yet, so I went inside and listened as Auntie Shirl “Ooh’d” and “Aah’d” over how much Katie and I had grown in a year.
I tried to get Dad’s attention and asked again if I could go out and find my cousins. Dad was deep in conversation with Uncle Pete, so I took his brief nod as a yes and headed out the door before he could change his mind.
Uncle Pete’s farm had been in the family for over a hundred years and it looked every day of it. The yard was littered with a century worth of rusty, broken machinery. Normally I loved tinkering around with the machinery, but today I just wanted to find Mike and Gabe. I was surprised they hadn’t come in to greet us.
As I headed for the paddock where I’d heard the motorbike, I was interrupted by the sound of voices in one of the derelict sheds. On impulse, I decided to sneak up on my cousins and surprise them.
As I crept closer, I heard Mike’s voice. “What you got there, Gabe?”
“It’s a baby snake. Look how little it is,” Gabe replied. “D’ya think we could use it to scare those baby cousins of ours?”
“Nah. Too small. Let’s just tell ‘em about it. We’ll say it was five foot long.” I heard the excitement begin to creep into Mike’s voice.
“Yeah, and we’ll say it’s a King Brown too. Do you reckon Dad’ll believe that?”
“Should believe it. Let’s tell ‘em it was gonna bite you, but I grabbed it’s tail and flicked it against a tree to save you.”
Gabe let out a strange squawking noise. “Well, that’s not fair. We told ‘em you saved me from that croc last year. I think it’s time I did the saving for once.”
There was a pause before Mike responded. “I guess you’re right Gabe. It is your turn. Okay. We’ll tell ‘em I was jumping out of the tree and I tripped over and got knocked out cold. You climbed down and saw the snake ready to strike at me, but because you were behind ‘im, you managed to grab his tail, swing ‘im around and whack ‘im against a tree.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. How dare they call me a baby! And did they always make up stories like this to tell me? I allowed my mind to wander back over every story my cousins had ever told me and suddenly it came to me. Everything they said was a lie. Every story and every heroic epic they had ever told me was a complete fabrication. Auntie Shirl was right. My cousins might be named after angels, but there was nothing angelic about them.
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