She slithered up the tree branch inside her tank to watch the shopkeeper unlock the front door and turn the sign around.
Ding-a-ling. A little bell jingled as the first customer walked in.
“Hello, pretty bird,” the little girl cooed at a cockatiel. She cuddled the kittens and looked longingly at the angelfish. This girl wanted a pretty pet, Nadine could tell.
Nadine coiled around a branch to show off her glistening green skin, but the girl walked past her tank as quick as a wink.
“I don’t like snakes,” she said to her daddy. She chose a velvety brown puppy to take home.
Nadine’s heart sunk. Wasn’t she pretty enough?
A boy came in next. Nadine smiled to herself. Boys loved snakes. He poked at the puppies, rattled the rabbit cages and tapped on the turtle shells. His pink nose pressed up against the glass of Nadine’s tank.
“Ooh, I want a snake.” He counted the coins in his pocket and frowned.
“How about a nice goldfish, instead,” said the shopkeeper.
The boy walked out of the shop, shaking the goldfish in its bag. Nadine shuddered, glad he hadn’t picked her after all.
After lunch, as Nadine lay curled on her rock under the warmth of her heat lamp, a teenager walked into the shop. Nadine’s head perked up. He looked like the sort of person who would really appreciate a snake for a pet. Nadine swayed her head in a snakey dance.
The teenager barely glanced at her. “Don’t you have any black snakes?”
“Just beautiful green Nadine,” said the shopkeeper.
The teenager left with a black rat. Nadine lowered her head back onto her rock. Green was much nicer than boring black.
The shopkeeper stroked Nadine’s smooth skin with the tips of his fingers—the way she liked it.
“The right person will come,” he whispered.
Before closing time, a woman walked in.
She wore a flowery dress and high heeled shoes.
“She looks like a bird person,” Nadine thought.
But the woman barely looked at the colourful birds who preened and sang. She ignored the bouncing puppies and playful kittens who pawed at their cages for attention. She walked right past the goldfish and clownfish and yellow tang.
She stopped right by Nadine. Nadine thought she must be looking at the turtles in the next tank, until she heard the lady exclaim, “Would you just look at that beautiful bright green reptile! I’ll take her.”
Nadine looked around the woman’s apartment from her glass carrier as the men set up her tank. Green pillows adorned a green couch. Fern-patterned curtains hung from the windows. Pot plants with large shady green leaves stood in every corner.
Nadine smiled and flickered her tongue. “I think I’m going to like it here.”
©Jo Hart 2012, image credit
Bedtime Stories downloadable tales for children are an AWO initiative, run in support of the National Year of Reading 2012. We encourage you to print and read these stories with your kids, and revel in the joy a wonderful story can bring. All stories are original and have been penned by established and emerging Australian authors. Every month, we will publish four stories running to a central theme, each on a Monday morning. See here for more.