The Last Thing She Expected - Bonnie Smetts

Marjorie stood still, stuck in one spot in the center of the living room. She would not take a step until the snake man had been to every room, she would not move.

Sasha came from the kitchen. “Ma’am, would like some tea while you wait?”

“No, no thank you. I’ll just stay out of his way, then.” Sash had to have known all along what was going on in the garden. After all the staff passed through the garden to get to their house. Marjorie felt betrayed. They knew she’d have nothing of the silly idea that cobras brings babies. She took a step and then stopped herself. She cringed at her mistake. One could be under the chair or behind the door or in the breakfast room. Or she could sneeze and be dead.

“OK, then ma’am. He should be done soon.” Marjorie heard banging of doors and cupboards upstairs. And murmuring. She wanted them to be done, to be gone. She hadn’t agreed to this. She’d agreed to a comfortable life, a bit unusual, a bit difficult at times. But only a little, Ash had promised. Not this. And he went to work. She wondered what they did about cobras at his office.

More banging, louder and quicker. A slammed door and then silence. Murmur. Silence. They had to have caught one—the quiet meant the snake man was moving like a mime, silently in slow motion with his stick to carefully get his loop around the snake’s neck and pick up its man-sized length and stow it in that box. That white box he carried, the box with small holes, as if they wanted to keep the disgusting creature alive.

“Sasha, Sasha.” She stood in her circle of fear, hoping Sasha could hear her in the kitchen.

“Yes, yes. What is it?”

“Did they? Can you ask if they did?”

The young woman’s long braid swayed back and forth as she climbed the stairs to the bedrooms. Marjorie strained to hear. She should be learning their language. She wanted to understand what they were saying. She waited in her prison in the center of the room. Not even the sun could find her there.

A door closed upstairs. Sasha’s whispering steps came back toward Marjorie.