I still had my eyes half closed as I stumbled back to bed from night time toilet trip, torch in one hand. I’d reached the mosquito net and was about to start searching for the opening when a thought finally forced it’s way past the haze of sleepiness fogging my brain. Something had been moving in the bathroom as I’d turned and closed the door.
Moving? Nothing should be moving, should it?
I tried to dismiss it as a fragment of dream. It was pitch dark on the island now the day’s electricity was done. I was half asleep. It was probably some combination of flashing torchlight, blurry vision and squinting creating an optical illusion.
No. It was definitely a snake.
Snake! Instantly, I was awake. I turned back to the door and, re-opening it slowly, scanned the wall with my torch.
Yup. There it was. A thin, green snake squeezing itself out from a gap at the edge of the tiles around the wash basin, tongue flicking the air. Its body curved out about 30cm from the wall, like it was being charmed horizontally. Like, I thought dimly, the toy snakes made of plastic links that writhe slowly when you hold them by the tail. Except I could see this snake’s muscles contort as it pushed more of its body into the room.
Then it saw me.
We gazed at one another for a while, our noses a mere metre apart, unsure of how to address the sudden appearance of this stranger into our night time wanderings. I cocked my head to the side. So, too, did the snake.
I shrugged and stepped back. My thoughts had strayed momentarily to the two sleeping kids in the bed behind me but apart from initiating some kind of midnight snake fight, there didn’t seem much to be done. In the bathroom, the snake seemed to reach a similar conclusion. Reversing its contortions, it started shrinking back into the wall.
I closed the door, covered the gap underneath with a heavy bag, and, getting back into bed with a yawn, made sure the mosquito net was tucked in very, very tight.