Living in a Box

By Gino Savaria

Apr. 15, 2022

For one year, my mind fluttered between admiration and guilt. As I would gaze into the film-coated terrarium, reptilian eyes mournfully peered out. Ralph was an eastern fox snake, a wild animal seized from his natural habitat and gifted to a twelve-year-old.

At first, he fascinated me. I would watch him wind through artificial dirt and around plastic rocks, the successive movement of each scale reminding me of people trapped in a queue. As one progressed forward, the others followed, only to hit another wall.

The longer I looked, the more sorrow I felt. It became clear to me that Ralph lived in a mirage. I had replaced his wild with a pet store knockoff, and it felt criminal. Yet, I couldn’t bring myself to set him free, nor did I ever have to.

One day I approached the terrarium and discovered its wire lid pushed to the ground next to it. My gut twisted, realizing Ralph had escaped. I scoured the empty garage looking for signs of a snake, but I knew I wouldn’t find him hanging around. He had left to find his home.