The snake by the path had a large frog stuck in his throat. His eyes bulged. He could not swallow.
“He’s been so awhile,” my friend Tom said, his voice calm.
“How unfortunate,” I told him. I did not know what to do.
Tom stepped forward then and crushed the snake’s head under his boot.
I stirred. “Why do that?” I said.
“For mercy.” His voice did not waver when he said it.
I was beside myself. However, I saw the snake was no longer tense. He lay calmly in the grass, his struggle done. Yes, I realized, it was mercy.
MaryEllen Carr says
The first three lines of this story had a great tone. It sounded like the start of a fable or fairy tale. You can disregard my comments but it is because of this original potential, I am taking the time to comment. I realize that my expectation may in no way reflect your intention.
~You could have allowed yourself several more words to clarify the story. You could remove ‘I said’ and …’when he said it’ and … ‘I saw’.
~Tell us more about how was it Tom knew it was awhile the snake was in such a state or why the narrator and Tom are together in the woods to begin with. Does the narrator feel some kind of relief that Tom shows mercy?
~I need to know that the frog was also dead or why wouldn’t Tom have tried to remove the frog from the exhausted (IMO) snake and show mercy to them both.
If these suggest that I missed something key, I do apologize. Thank you for sharing.
Great advice, not to take anything away from the story or the writer but every author should question what can make my story better or clarify the intent of the message.
By the way, I will add this advice to my own writing.
E Barnes says
Was the snake really in distress, though? Snakes eat larger meals than their bodies then don’t move until the meal is digested and that can be days. The snake may have been killed because of ignorance, but it would depend on the reader’s knowledge to get it.