I Was Almost Home
I was on my way home. The sun shining down on my back combined with the slope of the hill I rode down made my shadow impossibly long in front of me.
I was coming back from a friend’s house a few kilometers down river. Rubio, a Peruvian Paso stallion, moved steadily, rhythmically under me. He wasn’t our fastest horse, but that smooth gait almost made up for it. A slight gust of wind lifted moved through his mane, and in the distance I could hear the river rushing by. I was almost home.
All around me the jungle rose up like a wall, always threatening to overcome the thin patch of muddy dirt we called a road. As we moved lazily down the trail I swung absently with my machete at any new growth that reached too eagerly into the open space above the trail. In the jungle if you don’t clear a trail every day the jungle will claim it within weeks.
The sun filtering through bug eaten leaves made the trail ahead of me into a weird patchwork of dancing shadows. The river is just a few meters away just out of sight around a bend in the trail.
Rubio lunges to the left, his trunk-like neck arched in fear, every muscle standing out hard as steel. With limbs flailing I barely manage to keep my seat. I look to the right automatically to see what has scared him while I pull back on the reins to keep him from bolting.
Right there at face level is the most terrifying thing I had ever seen. A snake Glossy black back and mustard yellow stomach. The scale were large overlapping like shingles. The mouth was wide open just feet from my face. There I was sitting on top of a horse, and this snake was standing up next to me and our faces were level.
I let Rubio bolt.