Imaginif prompts for daily writers.
If you wish to join the Writers Prompt Daily simply use the below photo (changes daily) as a prompt and post a short story, poem or paragraph to your blog. Leave a comment and your link here so that all participants can come to you and read/comment/encourage. Stories below are copyright and are Megan Bayliss' writing around the below daily picture prompt.

Aka and the snake story

Aka settled into the big comfy chair beside my bed. She pushed her Government issue thick black glasses high onto her thick black face. Lucky her nose was wide enough and could keep those "big glass eye up." He, he, he. Every one of us kids used to tease Aka because we were cheeky; diluted with white blood and white culture. She called us, skinny nose. We called her, Aka, grand mother.

Aka lived with her community mob but because she needed dialysis, she stayed in town with us three nights a week. We loved it when Aka stayed overnight because Aka told us stories. Aka got stolen from her mob when she was a kid and bought up in a Mission. Aka went to school and she knew how to read and write but she only did it in front of us because she said it was a shame job to her sisters and brothers who couldn't read or write.

Aka used to be an up town Murri, like our Mum, but once she got old and sick she wanted to go home all the time: to her country, to her people. Our Mum, her daughter, wanted Aka to have the Granny Flat out the back and live with us all the time. We wanted Aka to stay with us because she took the time to tell us stories.

In the big comfy arm chair on the boys side of the room, Aka adjusted her glasses, opened up some book she picked up off the floor and began, "Once upon a time, there were three," I interrupted her with my hitting hand and my sister threw a pillow at Aka.

"Aka," I growled. "We don't want book stories. We want your stories. Mum can tell us book stories. We want your stories, Aka, we want black fella dreaming."

Aka chuckled and pretended she was shame. My sister told me a girl secret though. She said that girls pretend to be shame when they are flattered by a compliment. Ah, jeez. I hated it when old people acted like little girls.

Aka picked her nose a bit. We laughed at her because we had a secret bet about whether or not all five of Aka's fingers could fit up those big nose holes.Tonight it was just one finger, but we laughed anyway.

"Aka," little Desley said, "tell us snake story."

Tucking her skinny ankles and feet up under her bony bum, Aka took the position of the long time story teller. Her eyes went all snake like and her tongue split in two and flickered out of her mouth.

"On the day that white fellas first visited my country, they came with a child. The child was a boy. White hair, white skin, white teeth. The child played alone, in the sand and nobody ever spoke to him or even looked at him. The child did not speak or cry either. His voice was frozen by bad magic.

Before the sun was even right up over them big gum trees, that white boy was covered in meat ants, biting stinging, hurting, eating. From the banish circle, far away, those meat ant smelt white boy's tender meat and they planned to eat it. They came, quickly, and they marched onto his body and sought out his scale to get beneath, to get into his inside body.

Those big white fellas did not know of our ways, our danger, our magic, our dreaming. Those white fellas did not know that the meat ant was a bad omen and they had to be stopped as soon as they crawl on you. Where the meat ant crawled, father snake, giver of life, would not. Of all creatures of the earth, the meat ant could bite father snake underneath his scale and eat through to the other side, cutting father snake in half, cut father snake's life dead.

Them white fellas went on with their business, making shelter, searching for fire wood, scooping up water, looking at rocks, but never once did them white fellas check the child who did not talk. That child was going to disappear, only his bones would remain, and nobody would know what was happening because, even before that boy came to our country, the meat ant magic had stopped that boy's tongue from crying out.

Father snake felt the rumble of thousands of meat ants devouring flesh. He came up from his sleeping place to investigate. He came up and found the white child covered with meat ants. Father snake was confused because the white child did not scream and the white fellas did not come to help the child. Father snake wanted to punish the people who would not help the children but he was scared to go through their camp, to crush them, in case the meat ant slipped under his scale.

Father snake thought quickly. He could not let that boy die in agony, eaten alive.  He sucked back every bit of venom in his body and from the safe outskirts of the camp where the meat ants could not get him, he spat his poision and it landed on the boy.

That vemon ran down the boy's head and covered every part of his body. Paralysed meat ant dropped off that boy and the crow swooped in to eat them. The meat ant who had already eaten into the boy's flesh were trapped. If they ran out to help their friends, they too would become paralysed.

As the poison sloshed its way down that silently screaming boy's throat and entered his blood stream, the inner trapped meat ants died. With all the danger gone, father snake slithered to face the boy. They boy was dying and father snake told him not to fear. While the venom was deadly to enemy ants it gave all others eternal life. The white child would die of the white fella world but be born of the snake life, as the God who cleared the land of meat ant.

White child died. He died of ant bite and snake love. He entered the spirit world on father snake's back and every spirit ancestor was there to talk with that boy, to pay him some attention and to watch over him while he sat and played. If ever he was in any danger, all he had to cry out was, "Snake," and father would be there with him, to ride him away to safety, to friends and to watchfulness."

Aka blinked at us. Her eyes returned to their normal shape and colour and her tongue knitted back to one.

"You fella go sleep now," she said in her broken lingo, "or I bin gonna get them meant ant come teach you one big lesson."

Little Desley had already fallen asleep but me, Garrett and Nazie, we all nodded our respect to Aka, pulled up our sheets and did exactly what our Aka said.

As Aka got up to turn the light off and leave us alone to sleep, I felt an urge to tell her how much I loved her stories.

I sat up and reached toward her. Her fragile arm, all hurt by the big dialysis needles,  reached out to meet mine. Our fingers entwined and spoke of our love for each other.

"Thank you, Aka," I said in a deep, hushed tone of respect. "Your stories are the best stories ever. Tonight I am going to make one up to tell you next time you stay here."

Aka smiled at me. Her big lips, cracked with years of story telling and singing, rose in each corner. A smile, a cackle and her red tongue poked through her teeth. Aka's way of saying, thank you.

That was the last time I ever saw Aka. Two days later, she was discovered, in her community, strangled by a 16 foot python. Had she called Father snake to her? Yes, we believed she had.

Little white boy now had the best Aka in the world to tell him stories and to listen to his in return.

If you wish to join the Writers Prompt Daily simply use the above photo as a prompt and post a short story, poem or paragraph to your blog. Leave a comment and the link here so that all participants can come to you and read/comment/encourage. Story above is copyright and is Megan Bayliss' writing around the above picture prompt.

3 Response to "Aka and the snake story"

Becca said...

An amazing voice on this piece. You really embraced the POV character. This is an excellent example of your storytelling ability. You weren't afraid to put the characters "truth" on the page.

I have to admit, I took a little liberty with today's prompt. There is no actual snake. I've used the snake metaphorically throughout It also kinds of stops short of finished, but if you are interested in the backstory of it let me know.

Julie G said...

Kids just want to been seen. poor little white boy. Family.

I knew there was a reason I never liked meat ants.

Awesome piece, Megan.

Megan Bayliss said...

Thanks Becca. I love character development. Most of the time I can really put myself in their shoes and think from their perspective. I think it comes from my background as a therapist and having to really listen to and understand people in their context.

Taking liberties is absolutely allowable in prompt writing - isn't practice writing all about lubricating the imagination. If a metaphor gives the impetus for a piece of writing then go with it.

Julie: I HATE those bloody meat ants! They hurt when they bite. Years ago I wrote a murder scene and meat ants were the murder weapon. I had forgotten all about it until writing this piece last night.

Yes, family is important and all kids deserve to be seen. You are seen, Julie and I am with you in spirit on the anniversary of your Mum's death <3

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