I wrote this story using the following prompt: YDWordPrompt – Ablution
Covid19 isn’t making travel easy, least of all for border crossing, but Simon is grateful for the lift.
Simon squinted with distaste as he listened to the ongoing whiney sound emanating from a carload of smelly teenagers. The long drive was tiresome, but he couldn’t complain, having hitched a ride for the best part of 926 kilometres. As much as he wanted to give them all something to whine about, he was safe and comfortable on the floor, unnoticed under the front passenger seat. The driver and five passengers were oblivious to his presence.
“How much longer, Mum?”
“This is so boring.”
“My phone’s flat”
“I’ve got a cramp and my bum’s numb…”
With her left hand on the steering wheel, the other cradling her head against her open window, Maxine cursed the rotten timing when the aircon went on the blink halfway to the border. She opened the electric windows in the rear of the car of her dated 7-seater van. She quietly questioned her sanity when she had agreed to take her three teenage kids plus two on a school holiday excursion to the Sunshine State. It had seemed like a good idea at the time, escaping the doldrums in their small rural town in NSW to have a break with her sister in Noosa on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland.
Go on a road trip, they said. It’ll be fun, they said. Maxine rolled her eyes. But they packed what was needed for the trip, both essentials and luxuries, whatever it took to keep her carload of grizzly campers content for their journey.
Her sense of humour had waned after just four hours driving, despite the comfort stops. In the back on Maxine’s mind was the horror of not getting across the border. She had the correct paperwork, but as tiredness began to overtake any rational thinking, she started overthinking scenarios of being told to turn around and go back.
Simon, on the other hand, was happily content. He would have preferred some peace and quiet in order to nap, but as that small luxury was not likely to eventuate, he would remain cool and calm in his curled-up state.
Despite a few more skirmishes from the teens, ongoing grizzles and small pesky problems such as encroaching on personal space, someone farting, someone losing a game on their phone, someone snoring and dribbling, and the all-consuming irregularity of phone coverage making any device activity blip right off the radar until a signal was available again… the road trip to the Queensland border went almost harmoniously. Maxine flittered her attention from the road ahead to the dashboard at regular intervals, feeling her euphoria build as the GPS advised her of the shrinking distance left to travel.
With the border just a few kilometres away, the cold hard reality of how many other travellers were hopeful of heading north, was like hitting a brick wall. The queue of stationary cars, drivers waiting to have their paperwork checked and the mandatory Covid19 health check completed, was difficult to comprehend. Her earlier euphoria dissipated like a popped bubble. After what felt like a waiting time of as long as it had taken to drive from their home, there was movement, with one PPE-clad official talking to Maxine through her open car window.
Simon lifted his head and with his small eyes wide open, his senses were aware of a change in his environment. The car was still, the swerving from changing lanes or overtaking and turning corners had stopped, and no more sudden decrease in speed causing him to move about from his position, but the vibration of the engine was still happening. He heard other voices apart from the whiney teens. The driver had stopped snapping at her passengers but was thinking out loud as she prepared her paperwork. There was another voice that sounded friendly but official. There was a shuffle of papers, a brief exchange of conversation, one of the teens stated how disgusting and weird it was having something pushed up their nose; it made her eyes water.
The engine’s rumble increased as the car moved back into gear and followed the traffic. Simon was fully alert now, thinking another comfort stop must be around the corner. That would be his exit point.
And indeed, it was. The doors opened, allowing fresh air to blow in on the warm breeze. This was pure relief for Simon who had to deal with foot odour as well as flatulence from the fellow passengers. With the occupants legging it to the rest area ablution, Simon started to uncurl. Perhaps a stretch across the seat might be wise before heading into the dry grass on the roadside.
At that moment, as they had to queue for the loo, one of the teens turned and ran back to the car to get her phone. Afterall, she didn’t want to miss anything important in the five minutes she would not have it by her side. Simon was too busy enjoying his stretch to notice Lillian heading straight for her phone which was underneath him.
“SNAKE!” Lillian screamed, turning white with fear.
“Bloody hell!” Maxine yelled from inside the toilet cubicle.
“Really? Where?” Tim was getting out his phone.
“ON MY SEAT” Lillian’s screeched.
“What is it? A Brown?”
“A BIG ONE.” Was all Lillian could offer in her terrified state.
Those that weren’t busy with the call of nature, ran toward the car.
“Get away from the car! Step away from the car!” Maxine yelled while zipping her fly on her jeans as she ran toward Lillian.
This commotion was all too much for Simon, who had reared up from the seat, his mouth open, feeling as shocked as those staring at him. There was only one thing to do. Get out fast! With one fluid, slick, exceedingly long motion, his two-metre body slithered off the phone, off the seat, and onto the comforting half-dead grass on the roadside.
Simon didn’t look back, he was gone. In his wake, he left five startled teens, and Maxine who was feeling a need for something stronger than the diet coke she had packed in the Eski.
“Ohh! He was HUGE!”
“I got a good photo!”
“He was sitting on my phone! Eeeeww!!”
“You’d better sanitise it then! I’m doing Insta!”
“I’m doing a post! And Snapchat!”
Maxine rolled her eyes as she took deep breaths to calm down. That was a close call. And it would be just what she needed to occupy the kids for the last long stretch of the road trip.
Simon was well pleased. He was joyous as he slithered along, having crossed the border without question. Even more satisfying, he had got his own back on those whiney kids. Hours of noise, driving and smell can leave a lasting effect on a snake. It had been a bumpy ride, but a safe passage north. Job done!
Thanks for reading my story