Lori Jauntal was eight when she found the egg by the creek. It was small and she thought it might hatch into a duck. Her mom put up a heat lamp in her room for the egg and bought baby bird formula in case the egg survived.
There was no duckling. What hatched instead was a green snake with yellow eyes and two spots on his back where fluffy tufts of damp, downy feathers were poking out. When she tried to pick it up to show her mom, it hissed and slithered under the bed, where it stayed until she gave up.
The snake was nothing but trouble. As it grew, it left dead skins and molted feathers around the house, and it slept on her computer for the warmth and wouldn't let her near it. Several times the snake wrapped itself around the fruit bowl in the kitchen. When she tried to get apples from it, the snake drew back and showed its fangs, making like to snap at her.
One day, she woke up to the sound of hissing-- both snake-hissing and cat-hissing. She ran into the living room and found the cat dragging the snake around by one of its now-grown wings while the other flapped uselessly.
"Bad cat!" she said, chasing it away. The cat dropped the snake and ran.
For the first time, the snake let Lori pick it up. She carried it to her room and set it on her bed and fed it crickets from the yard. She nursed it back to health and within the week, it was better.
These days, she and the snake get on much better. Usually, it can be found draped around her shoulders like a scarf, its wings folded politely while Lori feeds it potato chips.