My first pet was a grass snake. I'd found him down by the lake on a June afternoon. Under mom's slightly disapproving gaze, I created a makeshift home for him out of a cardboard box filled with grass. I named him Fred, and I spent the day talking to him up in my room. When mom called me down for supper, I told Fred that I'd be right back. When I returned, Fred was gone. Mom was terrified and furious that Fred was on the loose. I was devastated that my first pet was gone. I cried myself to sleep that night. We never did find Fred.