The Snake Queen

My 12 year old asked me to write a story about a boy and a snake friend.  This is the story that resulted.  It’s a bit tame compared to my usual fare but I think it works anyway.
Ronald awoke to a hiss in his room. He quickly turned on the light and was shocked to find a snake sitting on the floor in front of his bed. He yelled for his parents, but they didn’t answer. The snake lifted its head up and moved towards the bed. Ronald screamed and ducked under the covers.
 
“You’re not poisonous are you?’ he asked
 
“I am, but I won’t bite you. I’ve come to talk,” answered someone
 
Ronald popped his out of the covers “Did you talk?”
 
“Yes,” the snaked replied, “I’ve come to thank you.”
 
“Me? What did I do?” he asked, confused.
 
“You saved the little garter snake from a car. I am the snake Queen and I have come to offer my sincerest thanks, and a gift.”
 
Ronald remembered the little snake now. He grabbed it from the street before a car came and laid him in a yard. “I didn’t do much,” Ronald said, “I don’t need a reward.”
 
“You shall get one anyways,” the queen said firmly. “We snakes know more than anyone realizes. Ask me a question and I shall answer.”
 
He should ask something big and important, Ronald thought. Then he considered even if got a big answer he couldn’t use it. So maybe small and important. His family was poor and his father had lost his job. If he could help them he’d be happy. “Is there any money around I could get without stealing?”
 
“There isn’t any one place, but the vole king has his subjects collect the shiny coins. The head Robin uses the paper kind for nests. Tomorrow, call to me and I will lead you to the vole King. Beware, however. He will want something in return for his treasure,” upon saying that she slithered out the window.
 
The next day Ronald went to school and sat impatiently through his lessons. He practically sprinted for the door when the bell rang. Once outside he called out loudly “Snake Queen!”
 
A few moments later she arrived. “Are you ready?” she asked.
 
“Yes,” Ronald answered.
 
They began to walk and slither for around an hour, ending up in a big field. The snake Queen stuck her head in a tiny hole and Ronald heard a muffled “vole King we’ve come to speak with you.”
 
She backed away and they waited. The vole King popped his head out of his hole and squinted in the direction of the snake Queen. “Are you here to eat me?”
 
“No,” she responded “this boy has saved one of my children and I owe him a debt. He seeks human money for his family.”
 
“That shiny stuff decorates the halls of my kingdom. They are difficult to have and they keep falling on my head. If you can find something to make my halls shiny, return here with two sacks and the things. If I like it we shall give you the coins.” with that the vole King retreated to his hole.
 
“If you find what the vole King wants, call me again and I will bring you here,” the queen snake said. “You only need to whisper to call me next time,” they left the field and Ronald went home.
 
For several days Ronald tried to figure out how to make the halls shiny. Then one day his mother sent him to get milk at the store. While he was there he went down a wrong aisle and spotted aluminum foil. Of course, he thought. He only had a little money of his own he was supposed to use for school snacks. If the vole King didn’t like it then he would have no snacks this week.
 
Then he remembered his mother crying that the power would get shut off. He would go without snacks if it meant he may be able to help his mother. He used the last of his money buying the foil and went home to with the milk.
 
The next day after school he called the snake Queen again. In his backpack he had two rolls of foil and two pillowcases. He didn’t own any real sacks. In a few moments she arrived and they traveled to the vole King’s hole.
 
Again the queen Snake called to the vole King. He squinted at Ronald “Have you found something, then?”
 
I think so,” he was frightened it wouldn’t work but pulled out the rolls anyway. “This is called tinfoil,” he unraveled a bit to show how much it shines. The vole King ran over and felt the foil.
 
“This is perfect!” the vole King called down the hole. A dozen voles took the rolls from Ronald and disappeared into the nest. “Did you bring sacks?” Ronald pulled the pillowcases out and called down the hole again. In the flick of a rabbit’s tail, a line of voles began dropping coins into his pillowcases. By dusk the bags were full. “Here are the coins I promised. You are a kind lad, I hope this helps you,” with that he disappeared back into his den.
 
The pillow cases were so heavy he could barely lift them. He dragged them to his house. He was about to burst inside with the bags when he realized his parents would think he stole the money. That would just get him in trouble and they wouldn’t keep it. Instead, he hid the pillowcases under some broken bicycles.
 
He took the change for his snacks and looked longingly at the bags. He could probably buy some toys and no one would miss it. Then he remembered his mother crying and left them be. He didn’t see the snake Queen watching.
 
The next day she appeared as he left the house “Why did you not give your parents the coins?”
 
“They would think I stole it. I dunno how to give it to them,” he said sadly.
 
The snake Queen lowered her head for a moment then looked up again. “I will ponder this. When you are done at school call me and I will take you to the head robin. She then slithered away.
 
After another anxious day at school he ran out and called the snake Queen and she appeared. She led him into the nearby park. They went in a ways then the snake Queen slithered up a tree. In a moment she and a very large robin appeared. “The snake Queen tells me you would like some human money. I will do as she asks if you do something for me, “ he cocked his head. “We need something soft and warm for our chicks. Get us that and bring two sacks.” with that the Head robin went up the tree.
 
Ronald pondered what to do as they walked back to his house. He pondered as he ate. He pondered while he did homework. Then he pondered in bed and as he flipped his pillow because it got too warm he figured out what he could do.
 
In the morning he snuck a knife from the kitchen and took his pillows. He would not be comfortable trying to sleep without pillows. He again remembered his mother crying and cut open the pillows. He wadded the stuffing into his backpack along with two more pillowcases. He went to school and called out to the snake Queen.
 
“You have found something?” she asked. He nodded and she led him back to the head robin’s tree.
 
The head robin glared at him “well did you find something?”
 
“Yes” Ronald said and opened the bag. The head robin felt the fluff and grumbled “this should work.” He went into the tree and soon a group of robins took every last scrap of stuffing from his bag.
 
“Do you have the sacks?” asked the head robin. Ronald held out the pillowcases. “Hold one open,” the robin commanded. Ronald did so and money began to rain from the tree into the bag. Bills of every size fell in even hundreds, it was the most money he had ever seen. Soon both bags were filled and Ronald thanked the Robin “You are helpful and honest. You’re good for a human,” said the bird, and he flew into the tree.
 
The snake Queen led him home and again he hid the money. He took enough to buy new pillows, but he was thinking of all the stuff he could buy with so much money. He thought of his mother crying and left the money alone.
 
He left the garage and began to cry. “What is wrong?” the snake Queen asked.
 
“My mommy and daddy are gonna lose the house if they can’t pay. I have the money but I can’t give it to them,” he sobbed miserably.
 
The snake Queen wrapped around his leg and said “I found the solution. In the morning put all the bags in a large box. Write your address on it, hide it again, and call me,” with that she slithered away.
 
The next morning was a Saturday. He normally watched cartoons all morning, but he had more important thing to do. He took an old box and filled it with the money. He wrote his address as neat as he could and tucked back under the bikes. He called the queen Snake and they left, going to an alley. In the alley waited a colorful parrot sitting on a payphone.
 
“You Ronald?” it asked.
 
“Yes,” said Ronald, confused.
 
“I’m Crackers. If you want to give the money to your parents I will help but you need to do something for me. My owner died recently and his children didn’t want me and shooed me away. I need a home. If you can find me that I will help.”
 
Ronald bit his lip. His parents said he could have one animal that could be whatever he wanted. He always wanted a squish nosed pug and had been trying to save for one. Then he remembered his mother crying and poor Crackers all alone. “You can live at my house. I will take care of you.”
 
Crackers bobbed his head excitedly, then knocked the phone off the ringer. He pecked some numbers. In a moment Crackers began to talk. After a few moments, he flew the phone back up. “Are you going to keep your promise?” he asked
 
Ronald said “Of course. Let’s go home.”
 
The snake Queen led them home. “Farewell,” she said. “I hope to see you soon,” she slithered into the bushes and was gone.
 
Ronald and Crackers went inside and without warning his father pulled him into a tight hug. “Your teacher told us all about it,” his dad said, beaming. “He said you had been doing chores for the whole neighborhood to try and help. They said you didn’t want us to know. They were so proud of you they started an online campaign and we have enough to pay for everything for years. Plus I think you’ve earned something too” he led Ronald into his room.
 
Sitting on his bureau was a big TV and a new game machine with a pile of games. He never even dreamed of stuff like this. “Why did you get me this? You need the money to take care of everything.” Ronald said, tearing up.
 
“You worked hard for nothing but to help. You deserve a reward,” his dad rested a hand on his shoulder. “You’ll have to hook it up though. I don’t understand these newfangled wires.”
 
Ronald played and spent time with his family. Everyone seemed so happy. His mother adored Crackers, saying she had always dreamed of having a parrot. Time grew late and Ronald went to bed. As he was about to fall asleep he heard a hiss. He looked down to see the snake Queen, the vole King and the head robin at the foot of his bed.
 
“We have talked with all the animals, and they said if you ever need help they will come,” she stared at him.
 
He smiled “That makes me happy, but I will always do something for them in return. I suppose you have to go now.”
 
The snake bowed her head. “Yes, but I shall visit often. So will the little snake you saved. Have a good night,” the others gave their goodbyes and left his room. He missed them already, but he knew he could always visit. Before long sleep overtook him and he had dreams of talking to animals and happy parents.

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