Here is an excerpt from one of the stories in my collection, TURTLE FEATHERS. The collection contains twelve of my stories featuring some kind of animal. It’s available electronically for 99 cents at Smashwords and Kindle.
Excerpts from all the stories in TURTLE FEATHERS are posted on the TURTLE FEATHERS excerpts page.
Personal Essay — My Mother — excerpt
as told to Marian Allen
Everybody calls me Mimi and I’m eleven years old and my mother has snakes for hair. Craig Johnson makes fun of me and says I mean she has hair that looks like snakes or something, but I don’t — they’re real snakes, all right.
I don’t mean fat, ugly snakes, either. They’re long, skinny snakes, with tiny little heads and bright black shiny eyes that flash, “Good night,” when my mother turns off the overhead and the nightlight comes on. Their tails are down in her scalp somewhere, and they grow out and over her head and hang down in the back, and little baby ones curl in front of her ears.
They’re brown. The snakes, I mean; her ears are sort of peach-colored, like the rest of her (as much of it as I’ve seen, anyway, which isn’t much — she’s very modest. We don’t even have any mirrors in the house — that’s how modest my mother is.). I asked her what kind of snakes they were, once, and she said she didn’t know. She said she’d never thought about it. She said she guessed they were hair snakes or something.
My father has regular hair and so do I. So do all of my grandmas and grandpas, so I don’t know where my mother got snakes. She says they’re just a gift from the gods, and I shouldn’t ask so many questions, or the gods might give me a gift, too. I said that didn’t sound so bad, and she said it depends on the god, and it depends on the gift.
She has never had a haircut in her life, she says, but twice a year she goes to her sister, a herpetologist, to have them thinned. She says she won’t have to do that very much longer, because she says she’s getting older, and they’re getting thinner on their own. I know Daddy’s always complaining about them clogging up the drains, and sometimes we find one in the salad.
“Not much hope of us turning vegetarian!” Daddy says. (Ha, ha.)
My mother is a stay-at-home Mom. She says she likes it that way. She says she’s had enough adventures in her life. When I ask her to tell me some, she says, “Never mind — I don’t want to give you any ideas!” Then she winks at me, and her snakes all curl around her shoulders and open their mouths and bob their heads and laugh with their little red tongues.
My mother has the most beautiful smile; she says it’s all due to her other sister, a dentist who specializes in removing over-sized teeth. She says I should have seen her before she had them yanked — another gift from the gods, she says, and kind of curls her lip.
I used to have a bazillion hits on my website at the beginning of every school semester from people searching for “essay on my mother”, until I changed the title of the page to Not Your Homework.
JaneDecember 29, 2013 at 7:03am
I love this story. It’s so enjoyable to re-visit the opening. It’s a perfect bit of prose. And it almost makes snakes seem like happy little creatures.
Marian AllenDecember 29, 2013 at 8:41am
I’m so glad you like it! It came to me one morning, during one of my curly perm episodes, when I looked in the mirror and suddenly thought of what Sara would write in an About My Mother essay. And I suppose snakes could be happy little creatures, depending on whose head they were growing out of. 😉
Jen ChristophersonDecember 30, 2013 at 7:47pm
What an awesome story! I love this story! I think I have a bit of a story forming in my head, finally!!! Yay!
Marian AllenDecember 30, 2013 at 7:49pm
Yay! Stories forming always bring the happy, don’t they? 🙂