I put this short story here because it is not a poem and because it related so well in an abstract or analytical way to PTSD. If it needs to be moved elsewhere, please feel free to do so as where ever it goes I'm sure it will be read. Love, Marilyn I wrote this after the pastor of my church, bless his poor pointed head! Made the following statement, "Some people just need to be like the apostle Paul and just shake the past off." He had a daughter die in a horrible auto accident and I believe that he has never really delt with his own emotional loss. Legend of the Small Green Viper On a very tiny island surrounded by a vast expanse of endless ocean blue there lived a tall quiet man with his wife and two young daughters. They lived in humble poverty, unnoticed by the giant and complex world that lay beyond the treacherous tempest of the mighty sea. In simple solitude they labored to achieve a meager existence. One silent and subdued morning as the bright pink sun lifted itself from beneath the ocean, coloring the waters with a brilliant violet hue, the older of the two daughters took a walk about the island to collect some small sticks for the breakfast fire. While performing this menial chore the young girl was very careful where she walked. Small green vipers lay hidden in the thick undergrowth of the jungle floor. Any time the young girl would venture past the clearing of their rickety beech cottage, her mother would scold her with words of caution about the dangers of the small green vipers. Although the young girl heeded her mother’s caution, she had little fear of their poison. For one night while in a deep sleep, God had given her a dream. She knew the dream was from God because it gave her such sweet peace. In the dream she was walking under the jungle canopy collecting the sweet ripened fruit of the island vines that had fallen amid the dead twigs that covered the canopy floor. While reaching for her last fruit, one of the small green vipers wrapped itself around her hand and sunk its venomous fangs into the soft flesh of her tiny forearm. Rather than writhing in fear she simply looked toward a small stream of warm yellow sunlight that broke from between the very tallest branches of the thick canopy. Feeling its soft warm touch against her face she shook the small viper from her hand and stood smiling. Because of this dream, the young girl had little anxiety about performing her chores and took joy in freedom she felt as she walked about her island home. After collecting twigs for the fire the young girl returned to the cottage. Her mother was busy chopping greens while her little sister rolled out thin flat pieces of dough made from the coarse brown powder of acorn flour. Their father’s shadowy silhouette stood silent in the dark corner of the cottage where light from the windows was blocked by a wall he had built made of many small and jagged stones he had collected over the years. Not far from the father’s dark corner near the resting area of the young girl was the family hearth. The young girl took the sticks she had collected and began to stoke a small fire to cook the morning meal. While doing so she noticed in the corner of her eyes a giant dark and sinister serpent with large glowing green eyes and a fiery red forked tongue. Before she could even move, the giant serpent opened its mighty jaws and buried its huge venomous fangs into the young girl. Unlike in the dream, she could not merely shake this beast from her hand. She looked about the cottage in a frantic and helpless cry for help but it was as if she were the only one in the cottage who could see the large serpent. After making its venomous mark, the large serpent slithered away. This was nothing like her dream. She began to feel the poison set in. She felt so helpless and powerless to fight the power of the poison’s painful presence. Yet with her family, it was as though the whole experience never happened. Because she was alone in her experience, the young girl decided that it must have just been a terrible bad dream. Until on many other occasions, at times when those she loved seemed blind, the giant serpent would come to bite her again. Even though the bites were quite real to her, she chose to ignore the pain. She reasoned to herself that perhaps after time the poison would evaporate from inside her. This seemed quite effective. As time progressed, the young girl could no longer feel the pain of the mighty serpent’s bites. A very strange thing happened. The more time passed, and the older the little girl became, the less of anything she felt. On hot days when the bright summer sun beat down upon her shiny brown hair, she felt no heat. On cold days when the brisk winter wind and cold torrential rain turned her cheeks a rosy pink, she felt no cold. One day, while helping her mother chop vegetables with a small sharp paring knife, the knife slipped and made a small cut in the palm of her hand. She simply kept chopping. She never even felt the cut. She couldn’t feel the warmth of her mother’s lips kissing her forehead. She couldn’t feel the touch of her little sister’s gentle hugs. She couldn’t feel anything. Empty inside and longing once again to be able to feel, the young girl built a small raft with a makeshift sail and set forth on the open sea in search of a cure for her haunting numbness. For weeks she struggled over each tremendous ocean wave as though it were a ripple in a small pond, until at once, exhausted from her fight, she spotted beyond the watery horizon the skyline of a brightly lit city. Encouraged by the sight she made her way quickly to shore. Upon her arrival she encountered many new and interesting people. Some of them looked and acted very different than she had ever dreamed of. Initially, this did not discourage the young girl from seeking the cure that spawned her journey from home. However, the more time she spend interacting with the people of the bright city the less her mind dwelt upon her affliction. Gradually she was able to acclimate to the nervous scurry of city life and lived there until the reason for her journey from home disappeared within the deepest corners of her mind. Many years later, she began to remember home. Though she was no longer a young girl, images of the large serpent began to appear in her dreams. Soon the large serpent’s image haunted her mind at day until the numbness she had became so accustomed to experiencing was replaced by a dreadful fear that chilled her skin and stopped her heart from its normal beat. One morning while standing under the tree in her front yard, the fear overcame her. She fell to the ground. There, alone, with her face on the damp cool ground, she went into a deep sleep. She had a dream. She dreamed that standing before her with all its while and vigor was the giant dark serpent. Resting beside the large serpent, coiled in a moist green leaf was a small viper. The small viper slithered up to the large serpent and with very little effort devoured it. She then went into a new dream. In the new dream she saw herself under the large jungle canopy were she had lived as a young girl. She was collecting fruit to share with other people who had moved to the small island and were in need of food. After picking her last fruit, a small green viper wrapped itself around her wrist and placed its fangs in the soft skin of her forearm. Rather than shrieking in fear she merely shook the small viper from her arm and stood smiling. Standing beside her, with His arm around her shoulders, stood a tall benevolent and fatherly figure clothed in purest white. His hands were large and weathered like someone who works in construction. As He lifted His other arm to move a tree branch that was obstructing the light, she noticed that there was a deep scar in the palm of his Hand. After pushing the branch aside He gently took her hand, lifted her up from her fallen position, looked into her eyes and smiled. Upon waking from the dream she lifted herself up from the ground and looked strait ahead. In front of her, stretched out cautiously on a small fledgling branch protruding from the trunk of the huge oak tree in her front yard, was a small green viper. She gently stretched her hand out toward the branch allowing the small viper to slither hurriedly upon the top of her hand. The small viper, almost in a gesture of relief, lifted its tiny green head and looked directly into her eyes, after which it inched its way up her arm, across her shoulder, and into the front pocket of her blouse. There it coiled itself up in a comfortable pose and rested. At that moment, as though by some grand epiphany, she realized that she never truly was alone in her experience of fear and trauma, and although she still felt quite isolated from the sheltered and protected reality of those around her, she no longer felt numb. She felt many things. Some of them were pleasant and some of them were very painful. But for the first time since the large serpent’s bites, that was no problem. She knew that what ever she felt, God was with her and understood her. The small green viper had a home in her pocket. At times, when reality gave way to shadows of the past, she would pull the small viper from her pocket, look into its tiny yellow eyes, and remember that the huge viper was no longer able to bite her. This is only the begining of the story as the young woman will still have much healing to do. But always remember, my friends with PTSD, THERE IS HOPE! IT IS EVERYWHERE! Whether you are Muslum, Jew, Hindu, Budahist, or athiest, there is HOPE! Where ever there is life, there is HOPE!