Snakes and ladders

Huddled around his feet, we sat in awe of the spectacle of his uniform. He was the oldest boy of the family. His parents had taken my brother and me in as foster children, and we were meeting the legendary ‘almost adult’ brother for the first time.
His uniform looked the same as the ones the Canadian soldiers wore on television, so the reality of the rank of Cadet was lost on us. To us, we were sitting at the feet of a real live soldier!
He said, “I want to teach all of you kids one important lesson I have learned.” Eager to absorb this treasured gift we had all pressed in closer lest any single word would slip past us. “If anyone ever does anything to upset you or hurt you,” he continued, “don’t get angry, get even!”
I used his sage advice not long after. The younger boys, my brother in tow, convinced me to crawl up the ladder onto the roof of the house and tear off roofing tiles. They wanted to make a rooftop for their tree-house, and if I were to do this task, they would allow me into their boys-only structure.
I’d been caught by the foster father, and all of the boys had denied any part of it. I took the punishment, recalling the advice of the Cadet, all the while plotting my revenge.
The next day I snuck a canning jar from the basement out to the field to gather some of the many harmless garden snakes. My filled jar in hand I stole back into the house and made my way silently to the bedroom closet of the foster mother. Placing the Mason jar far back into the shadows, I removed the lid and quietly left the house!
© Zora Zebic 2016

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