If Only …


The snake was startled by the strange screeching sound breaking the tranquility of the cool forest morning. The ensuing ground vibration sent a shudder through the entire length of its six-foot body — a body that, up until this point, had been stretched out on the pathway trying to catch the first rays of warming sun.

The snake knew whatever monster had made the sound was too big to fight off. There was only one thing to do. “Too big to bite. Find a rock. Hide!”

Slithering across the damp forest floor, more screeching sounds and thundering vibrations from the monster hastened the snake’s progress. Nearing his hole under a nearby rock, the snake had but one thought: If I had legs, I could run away. All I can do is slither. And with that thought of being inadequate, the snake curled in darkness under the rock eyeing the monster and hiding. If only I had legs.

The black wood beetle was also startled by the strange screeching noise, but that’s not what woke him from the nightly slumber. Suddenly, the log he was sleeping in was tossed high into the air, then started rolling down a hill. The black beetle tumbled out of the log and was up on its six legs scurrying faster than ever before.

Get away! Get to log. Need more legs. I’m so slow. And with that thought of being inadequate, the black wood beetle finally reached another fallen log and dug himself deeply into the soft decaying wood to hide from the monster. If only I had eight legs.

The black and yellow garden writing spider was alerted by a sudden unnatural movement of its web. The violent shaking alone would’ve been enough to cause the spider to quickly scale the length of the sticky white threads as they were being torn away right from under him! Seeking the safety of a small tangle of twigs on the far side of the once magnificent web, the hideous noise that followed only hastened its crawl.

Too big. Must hide! Tucking its eight legs under, waiting for what surely would be a fatal attack from the monster that just destroyed her newly finished web, the spider had but one thought. If I could curl into a tighter ball, I could quickly roll away. And with that thought of being inadequate, the spider pushed back even further into the pile of twigs. If only I could roll away.

Even though it had seven pairs of legs, the roly poly knew if it were to escape, it had to move fast. Curling up into a tight ball, the pill bug started rolling down the hill away from whatever had disturbed his home of leaves on the moist forest floor. Rolling faster and faster, he had one thought. If only I had just one pair of long legs, I could run away. And with that thought of being inadequate, the pill bug rolled under a freshly fallen leaf, hoping it was hidden from view and safe. If only I had just two legs.

Taking advantage of the cool early summer morning, the man started his walk down the familiar pathway in his backyard. The path wove through a heavily wooded forest, a forest that eventually fell away revealing a small fishing pond in the neighborhood park.

The pond was the man’s destination for the morning, one he did not reach without a near death encounter with a king snake. Halfway to the lake, pausing for a moment to watch a garden writing spider putting the finishing touches of the telltale thick scribble on her morning web, the man failed to notice the outstretched snake lying on the pathway ahead a few steps away.

Not wanting to disturb the large black and yellow spider, the man continued down the path towards the lake. Later, if asked, the man would say he didn’t know what made him look down, only that he was glad that he did.

Inches before stepping on the unsuspecting snake, the man froze then screamed while trying to perform a one-legged jump backwards. Off-balance, he fell over a rotten log lining one side of the path sending the log rolling down the hill and black wood beetles falling out as it rolled.

As he fell, the fishing rod he flung into the air tore through the spider web he had been admiring, sending the large garden writing spider scampering to safety in a small pile of twigs.

The man fell to the damp forest floor with a thud disturbing a pile of wet leaves — and a small family of roly polys. Struggling to get back to his feet, the man caught a glimpse of the black snake as it quickly slithered under a nearby rock.

Brushing the wet leaves from his clothing and gathering his fishing pole, the man had but one thought. Wish I could move that fast, then I could get away from anything. With that thought, the man continued down the path to the fishing lake.

All my life I have looked at others for acceptance. Seeing some of their traits and skills being better than my own. I now realized there is a better path than comparing yourself to others. We are all unique with our own special traits and skills. And even if we don’t recognize how special we are, others do.

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001.]