I wrapped my scaly tail around the root of the Elder tree, blending into the moist overhang, a mixture of green and brown. I recoiled at the sight of a tall human pacing outside my glass prison. He resembled my previous caretaker, although truthfully humans blur together over time since they all reek of undeserved dominance. This particular creature had black hair, pale skin and a slightly hunched position that would imply he would prefer to stay unnoticed. Unfortunately, for him, he is tending to me, a master of observing; therefore, he will have to reveal his hidden features eventually.
Finally, the anxious young one came to an inevitable halt and slowly began to turn his body fearfully toward my cage. Distressed lines appeared on the surface of his head as his legs began to tentatively move toward my enclosure. As I focused on the figure, my eyes fixated on the freshly printed name tag plastered on his uniform. “Liam” was the rookie’s name. I hissed in exasperation; honestly, I could not fathom why the valiant Liam could not bare to be within three inches of a higher species such as mine...
I am a dashing, spectacular Burmese python who originates from the luscious, wild marshes in Southeast Asia. As a child, tales were told of savage humans who destroyed our homes and seized innocent animals to confirm their authority. I feared the stories but thought they were nonsense, old myths whispered to subdue our vigor. Until the day I felt a shadow obstruct my view of the scorching sun and artfully wrench me away from the place I will always belong. Now in my glass box, I remember the last flecks of light I saw in a wetland that I will never know again.
Liam’s hair bristled the dome of the glass as he wiped away the greasy fingerprints that covered my house, a result of enthusiastic observers. Suddenly, he pulled out a supply of my daily nutrition and opened the hatch to release my lunch. Little pellets tumbled out of the angular hole and rolled one foot away from my tongue. I leisurely glided toward the food enjoying the brief moments of apprehension that mirrored the eyes of my caretaker. I then expanded my mouth, swallowed my meager meal and darted my focus to the smile spreading across Liam’s features. I realized then that I had just started to watch a performance, a play in which there was only one actor.
The slow mechanical heater exhaled condensed steam surrounding my weathered scales as Liam yet again arrived for work, washed my pen, fed me amber-colored morsels and adjusted the overhead lights. Usually, once a worker had completed their daily routine they would leave, only to return in emergencies. Yet Liam hovered near my confinement making drumming rhythms with his feet and twiddling a pencil between his fingers. Occasionally he would frown when flushed children impatiently tapped on my prison and whinnied when I did not juggle in response to their distracting torments. When the visitors grew scarce, Liam sprung off the wall and walked into the distance. Thus ending today’s research of Liam, the uncontrollably intriguing animal keeper.
The slow mechanical heater exhaled condensed steam when Liam moved towards my cage, a timid smile pressed to his lips. He reached for a blue plastic mop, just as a man with clenched fists and a glowering gaze whispered something in his ear. Immediately, Liam’s smile dissolved like sugar in water; he carefully placed the damp broom beside my box and stood to face the intimidating man. Liam remained composed as the superior furiously glared disapprovingly at him. But, I could see the slight shake of Liam’s hands. The man’s beady eyes evaluated my cage searching for a fault or mistake, then a slight curl of his upper lip suggested he had found what he was looking for. Slowly, he walked away from my cell deeply satisfied with the result of his assessment.
The slow mechanical heater exhaled condensed steam just as Liam wandered near the side of my cage. Deep bags drooped under his eyes haunting the ghost of a grin that would be his last. Liam collapsed onto the edge of an eroded bench, running his hands through his unkempt hair. Taking long, lingering deep breaths to satisfy the lion that was roaring inside of him, Liam soon deflated, regained his slouched posture. His despairful gaze turned towards me, a snake bursting with bewilderment. Abruptly, Liam flung down a rumple of clothing, fled from my cage and with him closed the curtains of the story that had warped my perspective entirely. As I examined the piece of wrinkled apparel, I noticed the oddly familiar orange tinge and green collar. It seemed a great deal like what Liam wore every day for work, but that couldn’t be …. no that wasn’t possible. Then I saw pinned to the side pocket of the colorful shirt a black inked name tag that read “Liam,”
The slow mechanical heater exhaled condensed steam weathering down the weariness of the day like glass worn in an ocean current. Throughout the afternoon, porcelain faces idly passed by my exhibit commenting on the somewhat realistic environment or admiring the handsome features of my torso. I waited, skimming through the masses, to find the face I had come to know, but Liam did not reappear. Time diluted my confidence, withering away my hope and turning into disappointment.
“I knew this was going to happen yet I let myself grow attached. I am the one confined to a box; I am the one put on display for their entertainment; I am the one who was taken from my home. My life consists of people assuming I am an object who solely exists to be viewed.” All these thoughts swirled in my head as I drifted off to sleep.
The slow mechanical heater exhaled condensed steam as the sound of scraping aroused my slumber. A short file peeled away the bacteria that had started to sprout on the glass since Liam’s departure. I followed the calloused hand all the way up to a face. A woman with fading brown hair and radiant emerald eyes was cleaning my display. Her face was serious and determined, but her skin revealed that she was accustomed to laughing. Human emotions are easy to decipher in that way, like rings in the root of a tree. I inspected the gradual yet thorough process of her cleaning method and saw how different they were compared to Liam’s. Yes, that was for sure: she would never be equal to Liam. However, I had come to realize that my responsibility was to learn the tedious and endearing tendencies of mankind. But, I will never forget the first that helped me release the bitterness inside that had seeped through the surface of my life. That I owe to Liam.