Chris rubbed at his eyes and squinted through the dust cloud. He heard Taya before he saw her. She was backed up against the door, rattling the doorknob, her eyes wide with fear.
'It's okay. Nothing else is going to fall. We're fine,' Chris assured the clearly terrified girl. 'Can you come help me shift this wardrobe off my leg?'
Taya stayed where she was. 'Where is it?' she whispered. 'Chris, where is it? Is it still here?'
Chris looked uncomprehendingly at her. 'What? Why are you whispering?'
'The snake - there was a snake in that box. I don't know where it is now.' She was tugging at the door handle as she frantically scanned the room. 'Why won't this door open? Come on, you stupid door.'
'There's too much stuff blocking it. Calm down. You're fine,' Chris answered, gingerly probing a sore spot on the back of his head.
'Did you not hear me? There is a snake, a huge snake, in here somewhere. We have to get out,' Taya protested.
'No, we don't. The snake is not a problem. It's just Fifi and she won't hurt us. Now, come over here and help me push this wardrobe over a bit, so I can get my leg out.'
Taya maintained her position by the door. Chris pushed at the wardrobe. 'Taya, move yourself. I can't do this on my own. It's perfectly safe, I promise you. Like I said, Fifi is a carpet python. She lives up here. You probably frightened the spots off her with that scream.' He chuckled to himself.
Stung into action, Taya moved to help him push at the wardrobe. 'I - scared her? Are you kidding me? A huge snake jumps out of a box and attacks me, but I scared it. I don't think so, Mister!'
The extra effort accompanying this statement shifted the wardrobe enough for Chris to be able to slide his leg free. At the sight of Taya's furious face, he snorted and burst into laughter.
Taya returned her attention to the door. No amount of tugging would budge it.
"Christos!' Mr Comino's voice came from downstairs. 'Christos, I heard a crash.'
'We're fine, Papou. I just knocked something over,' Chris called back. 'Don't worry.' He got to his feet, gave his leg a shake and limped over to the door.
Taya poked her friend on the shoulder. 'We are not fine,' she hissed.
'My leg is sore but I think I'll live. Thanks for asking,' Chris replied sarcastically. He began clearing up the fallen boxes. 'Taya, everything is okay. Stop stressing, please. Fifi won't hurt you. Like I said, she lives up here. Doesn't bother anyone. She is very gentle and you can even hold her. She is easily scared though, so when you squealed, she would have tried to find a safe spot. She was probably sleeping in that box.'
Taya pulled a face. There's no way I am going to be holding any snakes.
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