Steve Sets Out


by Marc Isaacs

Steve spent his days under the porch of a bungalow on Mount Vernon Street. He wasn’t fond of the hot days in Houston. He preferred to come out at night when the temperatures were cooler and he could peek at the stars in the sky.

Night after night Steve slipped out to check out the stars. He saw single stars. He saw groups of stars called constellations. He loved these stars most.

One night when the sun went down, Steve slithered out from under the porch but stopped quickly when he looked up and saw no stars. Steve was unhappy and confused. Where were his stars? He went back under the porch feeling disappointed.

The same thing happened the next two nights. Steve started feeling lonely under his porch. The next night when he came out and saw no stars, he thought that the stars must have moved. He figured they couldn’t have gone far. So Steve set out to find his missing stars.

He slithered down the street with a school sign.

He slithered past an apartment building with a lot of bricks.

He slithered through a park with a jungle gym.

He slithered and slithered until he noticed something bright and shiny in the sky. That’s when he looked up with excitement—but he didn’t see his stars. He only saw the bright lights of a grocery store parking lot.

So Steve kept on going.

He slithered all night and lost track of time. Suddenly it was morning and the sun was coming up. Steve realized he had gone a long way from home and had not seen a single star.

This was something new for Steve. Normally he would be under his porch on Mount Vernon Street and safe and sound. But that wasn’t happening on this day.

As a little snake, Steve could only move so fast. He needed something faster to get him home before the heat became unbearable. Suddenly he heard a sound in the sky. He looked up to see a plane flying overhead. The plane looked fast but it also looked far away. That plane would never see Steve on the ground. He was too small to be seen easily.

Just then a bright yellow school bus came rumbling down the street. It stopped to pick up some kids so Steve followed it. Just as he got close to it, the bus began moving again. Steve was again too small to be noticed.

Steve decided to slither alongside the street, hoping something smaller would come by. That something smaller did come in the shape of two eager dogs out for a walk. They sniffed Steve and startled him. He slipped away and bumped into something in the grass.

“Sorry,” said Steve.

“That’s okay,” said the something with a deep voice. Tiny voices repeated “that’s okay” and giggled.

Steve had run into a snake family. A daddy snake was out with his two baby snakes playing in the grass.

“I haven’t seen you before,” said the daddy snake.

“I think I’m lost,” Steve replied. “I was looking for stars last night and didn’t seen any.”

“That’s because the clouds are blocking the stars,” explained the daddy snake. “But the clouds should be gone by tonight.”

“So I can see the stars again?” asked Steve.

“Of course,” the daddy snake quickly replied. “But you’ll want to be home to see them.”

“That’s the problem,” said Steve. “I have been out since last night and I’m tired. I need to find a fast way to get home.”

The daddy snake felt he had the answer Steve was looking for. “How about a plane?” he asked.

Steve said the plane couldn’t see him. It was too high.

“How about a bus?” asked the daddy snake.

“No good,” said Steve. “It went right past me.”

The daddy snake realized Steve’s problem. “The trouble seems to be your size, my little friend. We need to find a way to make your bigger. Try stretching.”

Steve tried stretching.

He stretched his mouth.

He stretched his body.

He stretched and stretched but he was still as small as he was before.

Steve felt he couldn’t get bigger on the spot but he had an idea.

The plane didn’t see him.

The bus didn’t see him.

But the snakes did see him. He would need to find something small like the snakes.

Something small. He looked around. A rock is small. But it doesn’t move.

A stick is small. But it just sits there.

A wheel moves. Likes the wheels on the bus. Or the wheels on a bicycle.

Steve had seen bicycles before. Big people rode them. Little people rode them. He would have to find someone big enough to ride a bike but small enough to see him.

A boy rode by and kept going. A girl did the same. Then another boy rode by. Steve was wondering if anyone would stop.

The snake family had returned to playing in the grass by that time. Steve knew he needed their help so he slithered over to them.

“Can you help me?” asked Steve timidly.

“Sure,” the daddy snake said. “Come on, kids.”

The snake family followed Steve to the side of the street. Steve explained that he was too small to be noticed by the kids on bikes but if they all worked together, maybe someone would notice and help Steve get home.

When the next bike rider rode by the four snakes started dancing to get the boy’s attention. It didn’t work.

The snakes spelled out “S-T-O-P” hoping the girl riding by would see them. No such luck.

“We’re still too small,” complained Steve. Then he had an idea. If the snakes stacked up, they would be tall enough for someone to see.

The daddy snake said he would stand on the bottom and let his little ones stand on top of him. Steve would be last and the highest off the ground.

At that moment, a little girl slowed down to see this unusual pile of snakes by the street. She stopped and smiled at the snakes.

At school, the girl learned about different kinds of snakes. She knew which ones were friendly and which ones to avoid. These snakes were definitely the friendly kind.

“There’s your chance to get a ride,” said the daddy snake.

Steve nodded and slipped into the basket on the girl’s bike. She didn’t seem to mind. In fact, she seemed to like snakes. Steve felt happy in the basket and when the girl started pedaling again, Steve waved goodbye to his new snake friends.

What a ride! Steve couldn’t believe how fast they were going. It felt so good to be going home.

The girl pedaled and pedaled until Steve started to see places he recognized: the park with the jungle gym, the apartment building with all the bricks, the street with the school sign. Did the little girl live near him?

“Hey there’s my porch,” shouted Steve. The little girl didn’t hear him and didn’t stop. Steve wanted to get out but he stayed in the basket to see where the girl was going.

She turned the corner and rode up a driveway. When she got to the end she got off the bike and pulled Steve out of the basket. She smiled and set him down on the ground. He knew his porch was just around the corner.

That night Steve came out to check out his stars. They were bright and twinkling at him.

“It feels good to be back,” thought Steve. “But the next time the stars disappear, I’ll just wait for them to come home again.

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