Snake Lady

With rhythmic movements she wiped the dust from pristine gloves and adjusted her mandolin to its customary snugness, between gloved heel and dimpled chin, upright and confident of the beauty it was about to disperse amongst the ugly sniggering crowd.
Her lips began to tighten her strings as a fat man of perspiration eyed her with deviance and a red haired child turned away with horror, crying to its mother’s skirt. With mandolin strings lip-tuned to her satisfaction she paused behind the bars of her trailered stage home and awaited her owners signal.
And with a wink of his beady eye she commenced her perversion.
And the crowd roared as her gloved left foot began to pluck.

The laughter was as normal, raucous and cruel as they watched the “Lady Snake” behind the cage; an armless body in her scaled green costume and a hat of stuffed rodent and feather.
As usual some spat their fear and angered their tongues at the bizarre and grotesque sight before them, this creature without arms playing music with velvet gloved feet. More of the others put their hands in coat pockets as if to protect them, for fear she would steal their fingers and thumbs, as they clenched their fists without reason and the pickpockets shouted at her for the business lost.

Lady Snake watched the crowd closely, looking into faces that snarled and grimaced, the heads that turned to look at dirt and those that stared with madness and cunning. She bade her time, waiting for the savagery to rise and the crowd to verge on a rebellious mob before her left foot strummed the melody that usually calmed them.

And as expected, their noise level dropped to a whisper.
And she had them again.

Elbows touched and the faces moved forward and she could smell their breath of wine and barley. The perspiring fat man was grunting with hands in his pockets and the red haired child had dried its tears on the cloth of it’s mother’s skirt.
Her velvet toes moved faster as her left picked out their string and those on her right moved upon their frets, and the hearts of the crowd began to soften to the tune their ears surrendered to. Their breaths came faster and the whispers died as her music left her cage and spread amongst them, lifting their hearts and easing their brows. They moved closer still, drawn into the notes and the feelings she gave them, forgetting their woes and the mud on their boots.
Her owner placed the basket before the shifting feet, remaining close by with a barbed staff to beat the pilfering urchins and a bulldog to marshal the late coming patrons.

With crowd now controlled Lady Snake closed her eyes and became internal with her strings, oblivious to the world as she played for herself and the smile she allowed. Her music entranced her and she soared high above the bars of captivity and the man who owned her, away from the perspiring fat man she knew would rent her, and into the sky where winds took her high and clouds enveloped her.
She swooped and she dove, inverted and dipped, hovered and basked in the warmth of the sun. She smelled the deep oceans and the heat of the forest, the thrill of the herds and the darkness of caves. She played the sounds of the animals and touch of the rivers, and heard the laughter of games and love of a fire. She felt the hot thermals guide and lift her and allow her to glide as she slowly descended and skimmed the dew on her own homeland grass before the last notes of her mandolin slowly returned her to squalor. 

Lady Snake didn’t see the tears as the crowd stopped breathing, or the movement of arms as lovers held tight. She just waited as the last string vibrated, and the beats of her heart returned through her bars.
Dropping the mandolin from beneath her chin she opened her eyes to the hush of the now beautiful crowd. The red haired child smiled at her from it’s mother’s skirt and the perspiring fat man was gone from her sight. The clink of coin began hitting the basket, and her beady-eyed owner bawled out his tripe and dropped her curtain.
Lady Snake smiled and straightened her legs and with rhythmic movements she wiped the dust from pristine gloves.

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Another one of the writing exercises on RB, this one came from a bubblers suggestion of starting and finishing a story with the same line, something I’ve never tried before!
The line was..‘With rhythmic movements she wiped the dust from pristine gloves’… and here’s what came out of it. Surprised the hell out of me! But thats what I love about the forum exercises.
You should have a go too.


music, forum, cage, gloves, exercises


  • Kirstine Dieckmann
    Kirstine Dieck...over 4 years ago

    You really are a great writer!
    It is amazing what music can do to people, it is as if it makes us see what is within people, makes us close our eyes and open our hearts.
    I enjoyed reading it, and I hope her smile survives, even after the last tones fade.

  • couldn’t have said it better, music does close our eyes and open hearts, you’re spot on Kirstine. Thanks so much for your comment, much appreciated

    – Cathal .

  • Pooh
    Poohover 4 years ago

    It did’nt surprise me, you have it … you have it in spades. Now I all I have to do is run very fast to catch up to you.

  • stop talking rubbish my friend Pooh, you’re the one with the natural talent and the observant eye!

    – Cathal .

  • lianne
    lianneover 4 years ago

    Ingenious and so very original – you had me holding my breath. Your descriptive imagery is incredibly compelling Cathal and the story moved at just the right pace to almost mimic the music that is its theme. You’re a very gifted man – I’m so delighted to have found you!!

  • lianne, far too generous ! But I’m smiling here :) Not something I would ever have dreamed of writing but when you have to sandwich something between two sentences its amazing how your brain kicks into gear and then surprises you. I liked this character though, she was strong and superior in so many ways, RB have provided me with another person I can file away for a revisit sometime. Delighted you enjoyed it, cheers

    – Cathal .

  • PintaPinta
    PintaPintaover 4 years ago

    holy hell.
    i just remembered to inhale.
    what an imaginative, brilliant concept… sharp imagery and such smooth exposition. i hope you do revisit this sometime if you ever feel the lure to do so cathal… there’s an authenticity here that speaks for itself. i thoroughly felt and heard this gorgeous creature’s music, so much so that i am now snookered and want to know what her story is, her past, her heart, her arms. such a creative take on the exercise prompt… i am so enjoying your writing.

  • Thank you Holly, the RB exercises are proving to be a muse all of their own! I think I will revisit her sometime because I think about her in her cage and whilst she proves that one doesn’t need to be physically free to be actually free, I still want to mind her a bit. Maybe I can be her knight :)
    Thanks again for such fulsome comments, really appreciate them.

    – Cathal .

  • rjpmcmahon
    rjpmcmahonover 4 years ago

    Up to your usual brilliant standard Cathal, great write, great imagination,really well done.Congrats

  • thanks Rick, appreciate you taking the time to read it, missing you in the forum too?

    – Cathal .

  • wildwomenlove
    wildwomenloveover 4 years ago

    wow this is amazing, totally took me there, then totally took me there. your writing rocks x

  • Thanks a million, enjoying the stuff you’re producing from the exercises too, well done !

    – Cathal .

  • Luke Brannon
    Luke Brannonover 4 years ago

    Loved it, Cathal! Lady Snake will be following me around for a few days now…

  • Funny you should say that Luke, I keep thinking of her too, perhaps it’s just us ‘man the hunters’ wanting to save the damsel every time. Thanks for reading it.

    – Cathal .

  • Ushna Sardar
    Ushna Sardarover 4 years ago

    might you would post your work Here

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