Marta was a cute little girl, with jet-black hair and deep brown eyes. Her bronze skin and dark hair were a trademark of her indigenous heritage. Her ancestors had lived in the Amazon, but she lodged with her father in a small shack on the outskirts of town. Their home brushed up against the mysterious flora of the jungle; vines of epiphytes dominated the wooden structure. Snakes, birds and spiders were all common tenants of the small home as well.
The young girl was in her third year of primary school in the city of Manaus and her father was the janitor of a private school in the neighboring district. This was the reason Marta was able to get a decent education. School was a dreadful place for the young girl. She was an outcast and constantly bullied. Her disheveled clothing and Amazonian features were a teasing point, even for eight year olds. Her father, who would do anything for his little girl, would walk her to school every day. The look of apprehension on his daughter’s face every morning was a constant tear at this man’s heart.
Marta had one escape, the jungle. When the girl would come home from school, she would spend hours wandering the stretches of dark green forest right behind her house. Nothing scared her out there. She would capture frogs and snakes; the more colorful they were, the more she was interested. More than once the young girl attempted to bring a snake home as a pet. Her father never allowed it.
When Marta turned nine years old, she met a friend that would change her life forever. She had been wandering the jungle as usual, and had found a baby anaconda struggling to move. The lime green snake was about two feet long and was obviously in need of some help. The young girl picked up the creature without a moment’s hesitation, and ran him back home. The shack they lived in was one room. Marta’s bed was in the corner, and her stuff was all on a small shelf by her bed. The girl cleared the shelf and laid down a blanket for the snake to rest. She proceeded to open up the kitchen cabinets in search of a mouse. This was the reality of living in the Manaus favelas – rodents everywhere. Waiting in the back of the cabinet was the trap, with a dead mouse clasped in the device . The girl grabbed the dead mouse and brought it over to the snake, setting it right by his head. She anxiously watched the anacondas eyes blink open as the smell of the mouse stimulated him. The juvenile snake’s tongue slithered out as if tasting the bait, and with a swift motion he wrapped his tail around his meal. Like a coil he wrapped his body around the prey and swallowed it.
Marta was relieved and knew that the snake just needed to rest now. The little girl, as if taking care of a baby doll, tucked the snake in the blanket. When her father got home, Marta showed him her new friend, she had named him Boffo. Although, her dad was against keeping the snake, the smile on her face was enough to break him. It had been a while since he had seen his daughter seem this happy and confident. Marta was ecstatic that her father couldn’t bring himself to say no. She spent most of the night looking over her new friend. After a few hours, the young girl’s eyelids got heavy and she dosed off.
The next morning Marta woke up with a weight on her left hand. As she was sleeping, the baby anaconda had slithered his way into the girl’s bed and, like the constrictor that he is, wrapped himself around the girl’s wrist. The snake had found comfort in cuddling up with his new protector. Marta got up and got herself ready for school. She changed into her school uniform, and put Boffo back in his blanket. The snake had become too attached to his keeper. He wrapped his tail around her wrist, like a snug embrace, and wouldn’t let go. The snake needed Marta. The girl was running late for school at this point, and decided to bring Boffo along. For the first time, in a long time, Marta was excited at the prospect of going to class. Although Boffo was in need of the girl, she felt the confidence of having the snake as a guardian angel. Upon arriving to school, every single child in the courtyard was fascinated with the new companion. The school kids watched in awe as Marta handled her baby anaconda.
Over the next year, Boffo had become an integral part of the family. Boffo was a welcomed member of the household, and the most effective mouse trap the family ever had. The snake was now almost six feet long. His lime green skin seemed almost fluorescent inside the home, although he was invisible when he would slither out into the yard. Marta and Boffo were inseparable, although he had overstayed his welcome at her school after the first day. The snake would follow the girl everywhere he could, and they both would set out into the jungle everyday after classes. They would wander around, climbing trees and exploring. Marta would tell the snake stories and had finally found a friend she could confide in. Although he was just a pet, Marta felt a deeper connection. She felt as if he understood her.
The snake continued to sleep in Marta’s bed. He was her protector of the night. She would use his belly as a pillow and the snake would snuggly rest his head on her shoulder, and wrap the tip of his tail around her wrist. Although shocking in appearance, this had become the routine with the pair.
A couple weeks after her tenth birthday, Marta had been a little worried about Boffo. The snake was almost seven feet long at this point, but he had stopped going outside with Marta. He was lethargic, and his lime green color seemed to fade to pale a little bit more every day. Marta scavenged for mice and attempted to entice her frail friend, but to no avail. Her father insisted that adult anacondas were not fit for indoor living. He suggested that they free him back to the jungle, the snake wouldn’t move. It was evident that Boffo was suffering.
It had been three days since Marta had been able to sleep. Her nights were filled with worries about her friend. She spent the hours caressing his body and softly kissing the top of his head. It was evident that the snake was dying, and with every tear that leaked out of Marta’s eyes, her acceptance of this fact grew. Every inhale the snake took seemed like an agonizing process. Every exhale would emit a small hiss and felt like it could be his last. The girl cuddled her best friend, softly caressing his belly and gripping the tip of his tail which was softly wrapped around her wrist. For the first time in days the fatigue overwhelmed the girl and Marta dosed off. With his loving embrace, Boffo wrapped his head around to lay his head back on her shoulder. The tight squeeze made the young girl feel safe and loved.
Her father had been right though. Once Marta was fast asleep, the snakes grip on the girl slowly tightened. He slithered his head across her neck and wrapped his body around it. The slow and gentle motion of the snake was never enough to wake the girl. Without ever disturbing her sleep, the anaconda had made his move, suffocating the young girl. By the morning, Marta had been swallowed and the engorged snake laid on her bed. Her father woke and the worst had arrived.