Ever since photography was invented in the 1830s, people have enjoyed taking pictures to commemorate the important moments of their lives. Whether using film or a phone, we like to capture and reproduce our memories. Some save their images in photo albums, while others display them on social media.
However, for this Alabama mother, taking a photo of her daughter turned out to be more than just a memory. Joy and Brooke Mills’s photoshoot went from an innocent yearly tradition to a potentially life-endangering experience. Luckily, these brave ladies lived to tell the tale.
An exciting morning lay ahead for this lovely family from Auburn, Alabama. It was thirteen-year-old Brooke Mill’s first day of seventh grade at Auburn City School. The young lady was gushing with excitement to see her friends and kick off the year on the right foot.
Brooke’s mother, Joy, was delighted and helped her youngest kid get ready for her big day. She knew how much Brooke liked school and was proud of her daughter for doing so well. Little did they know how exciting their day would actually turn out to be.
Brooke wore a black t-shirt and blue skinny-jeans with stylish rips at the knees; she topped off her look with sneakers and a brown leather belt. It was no shock that Joy wanted to snap a photo of her beautiful daughter. Any loving and supportive mother would do the same.
The seventh-grader posed for the shot with a carefree smile on her face, under a beautiful tree, unaware of what was beside her. The poor thing had no idea what she was standing next to; if she had known, she surely wouldn’t have looked so calm and collected.
Almost everyone these days has a picture of themselves on their first day of school. However, the photo is usually taken on the first day of first grade and not the seventh grade. What made Brooke’s mother take that fateful picture of her thirteen-year-old?
Truth be told, Joy had started a family tradition on Brooke’s older sister’s first day of school ever. The attentive mother continued with her custom every year, snapping a shot of each of her daughters on the first day of school. Her tradition had lasted so many years; why would she stop now?
As a result of Mrs. Mills’ picture tradition, the family had a snapshot of Brooke for every year of her childhood. It was a fantastic way to watch the girl grow up. She had grown from a chubby toddler to a sporty pre-teen with a black belt in karate and a passion for basketball.
The subtleties of the changes she went through from year to year were easier to spot when comparing the photos. However, her seventh-grade photograph was way more than just a part of the series or a fond memory; it would soon become a viral photo.
As the Mills got ready for Brooke’s first day of school, they were also excited about something else. They had just moved to a new house and couldn’t wait to take the first back-to-school picture at their new location. The family’s gym, Kage Fit, had grown in recent years.
Their success had allowed Shane and Joy Mills to buy a larger house in the suburbs instead of staying in their apartment. They finally had a big yard for Brooke and Ali to do sports in together. As a fitness-oriented family having a lawn was a dream come true.
Before moving to their new digs, the Mills family had also taken their snaps indoors. They had lived in a lovely apartment in the city; however, they hadn’t had any outdoor space. So naturally, after moving to their new home, they preferred to record the traditional photograph on the lawn.
Had Joy known the danger she was subjecting her beautiful daughter to, she would never have agreed to take the picture outside. However, the doting mom only noticed the imminent threat she had exposed Brooke to after taking the photo, and by then, it was too late to avoid.
Brooke was a popular member of her middle school class and a model student. The lucky girl got good grades and had a good set of social skills. Being on a few sports teams helped her gain more friends and be a well-known face at Drake middle school in Auburn.
Therefore, when Brooke didn’t show up to school on her first day of seventh grade, everyone immediately began to speculate why. Soon enough, teachers and students alike would find out, with the help of one photograph full of twists, bound to shock them all.
Brooke’s best friend was especially dismayed when the girl didn’t show up for school. She knew that her friend would never miss the first day, and if she did, she would surely text with an explanation. She wrote a few messages to Brooke, but it took a while to get an answer.
Finally, Brooke texted her friend back and sent her the fateful photo. The girl didn’t waste time before running to tell the rest of their peers the news. By the panicked look on her face, it was evident that something extremely terrifying had happened.
Brookes’s friends and teachers were apprehensive when they saw how scared her best friend looked. However, she urged them all to check Brooke’s Instagram, where the truth of the matter had been posted and was already getting lots of attention from the local media.
As active members of the Auburn community, famous for their gym in Opelika and the many sporting events they attended, locals were shocked when the Mills shared Brooke’s photo. Thank goodness that Shane was a wrestler and MMA fighter, and a karate master and wasn’t as scared as his wife.
The news of what had happened to Brooke quickly spread, first around her school and later around the whole town. The story gained so much attention that even the local news featured Brooke and her first day of school surprise. Not only Brooke had shared the picture on her Instagram feed.
Brooke’s father Shane shared the picture on his social media and his fitness center’s social media, and his daughter’s story continued to spread. What was so special and scary about the photograph that Joy had taken of her daughter to warrant so much shock and surprise?
While the local middle school and the rest of the town of Auburn learned about what had befallen Brooke, the poor girl herself was hiding in her house, processing the horror of the occurrence. The craziest part about it was that Brooke and Joy were utterly oblivious to the imminent danger as they were snapping the picture.
However, after she finished photographing Brooke, Joy noticed something in the picture’s background that filled her with terror. Closing up on the fateful image, Joy realized the danger of what she saw and moved to protect her pride and joy.
Joy and Brooke Mills had discovered something that they’d both willingly unsee. Directly behind Brooke in the photograph stood and beautiful and regal tree. The tree’s rough and detailed bark hid something horrifying and surprising, concealed perfectly by the pattern of the tree’s bark.
Perfectly camouflaged on the tree trunk behind Brooke in the picture was a gigantic snake making its way towards her arm. Both mother and daughter hadn’t initially noticed the enormous animal, and both didn’t quite comprehend how vulnerable they had been. Unaware of the actual danger of what would have happened had the snake pounced.
Although Joy Mills was extremely scared, she had no choice but to remain composed to help her daughter to safety. She needed to keep and clear head and not panic, calmly protecting Brooke. Luckily the young girl hadn’t realized how terrified her mom had been at that moment.
Had she known of her mother’s panic, Brooke might have jumped or made a sudden movement and accidentally touched the dangerous creature or startled it into lashing out. Thankfully, Joy kept calm and carried on, telling Brooke to walk straight toward her and not to waste another second.
Joy Mills hoped and prayed that Brooke would heed her and promptly walk out of danger’s way. The snake itself was literally inches from the girl’s arm with its head extending towards her, ready to attack. The young teen had no idea that she was seconds from disaster.
Thankfully, Brooke did as her mother directed and ran into Joy’s arms. When Brooke was finally safe and sound, her mother pointed out the snake to her, and the two of them got a better look at the creature. Brooke screamed in fear, realizing what had almost happened and what still could.
However, despite leaving the perilous shade of the tree, Brooke and Joy were still not completely safe. The snake could still slither down the tree trunk and make its way quickly to them. The Mills ladies needed to get inside and do it fast.
Fast as the wind, they ran to shelter, opening the door of the house and bounding in; Joy promptly locked the door behind them. Yet, once they were truly safe, the two of them burst out crying. Whether they were tears of fear or of relief, they couldn’t say. It had indeed been an emotional morning.
Brooke and her mother registered their shock and shared their traumatic experience with Shane and Ali. They tried to laugh it off and go on with their day, though this was easier said than done. Furthermore, the two weren’t even fully aware yet of the terrifying truth of the matter.
In actuality, the snake that had been only inches from Brooke on the tree was a poisonous rattlesnake native to the region. The Mills had been scared just by their unexpected run-in with the enormous reptile, so when it was identified as a rattlesnake, their terror only grew.
Getting so near a rattlesnake felt like having a brush with death itself. The venomous snake’s bite is considered a medical emergency and can cause immediate symptoms that range from nausea to shortness of breath. It is recommended to get medical attention right away, for if left untreated, the rattlesnake’s venom causes fatal consequences.
Patients who are bitten but the deadly serpent must receive an antidote within the recommended half hour after the occurrence. If mistaken for the bite of a less poisonous snake, the victim’s bodily function will break down within three days, causing organ damage and possible death.
Most people assumed that Brooke’s first day of school snake photobomb was a hilarious occurrence. However, it was not as funny as it seemed, considering that the rattlesnake could have felt threatened and proceeded to hurt the innocent young woman within seconds.
When taking a closer look at the photo, it is apparent that the snake was aware of Brooke and even making its way toward her, even if she hadn’t seen its movement. It’s possible that the reptile believed that Brooke was trying to provoke it by move around and posing so close to it on the tree.
Incidentally or perhaps fatefully, this wasn’t poor Brooke’s first run-in with a snake. She had encountered a similar slithering reptile before as a young child. The last time, Brooke had been just a toddler, although the traumatic memory had stayed fresh in her mind.
As a little rug rat, Brooke had been bitten by a snake. Luckily, her bite had not been fatal or dangerously venomous, and the tot had survived. Brooke had remained desperately phobic of snakes despite her survival since her childhood encounter and was deeply grieved to be going through a similar experience.
Due to the awakening of her mortifying trauma, Brooke couldn’t calm down and refused to leave her house. Understanding that she had been inches from a snake was distressing, especially considering the reptile was the deadly type. Her parents did their best to comfort and calm the teenager.
However, their efforts were useless, for Brooke wouldn’t exit her home without proof that the snake had been taken away from their yard. Her fear was justified considering the deadliness of the snake and the childhood trauma she bore, but how could her parents guarantee that the snake was gone?
Shane and Joy Mills understood that their daughter needed reassurance before she risked going outside again. They remembered her first encounter with a snake and how worried they had been for their toddler’s life and wanted only to protect her. However, it was still the first day of school.
Brooke’s mother understood that she would have to take drastic measures to get her daughter to school. However, she couldn’t very well catch the snake herself. Therefore, she opted instead to call Animal Control to come and take care of the animal and make sure it was captured.
So, Joy made the call, and they proceeded to wait for someone to come and deal with the intruder. It didn’t happen very quickly, and the mother and daughter cowered in fear in their home meanwhile. When they finally arrived, things did not go as planned, and another obstacle awaited the Mill family.
The snake was no longer perched on the tree, and the Animal control people couldn’t find it anywhere. The girls remained terrified, aware that it could be lurking anywhere on their property, waiting to pounce on vulnerable visitors. What would they do?
The disappointment and fear overcame them when they understood that it wasn’t over and the snake was still at large was too much. Joy and Brooke felt that their first brush with danger had been quite enough and now felt at a loss; they didn’t know how to continue if Animal Control couldn’t help.
Brooke’s trauma and terror peaked, and she resolved never to leave her safe and protected home again. The only way the girl would reconsider was if someone would make sure to catch the rogue reptile and save the day, allowing her to go to school.
Joy wasn’t willing to give up the matter quickly and let Animal Control know that they weren’t yet excused from their task. She expected them to stay until they captured the snake. Meanwhile, the mother would do anything for her daughter and encouraged her to relax and chat with friends.
The young girl began to calm down and even looked at the picture itself without reliving her fear. At that moment, Brooke realized what a sensational shot her mother had taken, and so she shared it on social media, gaining immediate attention.
The photo gained quick notoriety because it took a minute for anyone who saw it to spot the snake. The shock factor was incredible, and Brooke’s friends and classmates all wanted to make sure she was alright. Therefore, within moments of sharing, Brooke got tons of comments and likes.
The attention her post received was no surprise, it was truly a crazy photobomb, and it was no wonder people were reacting with excitement. However, even her viral post’s attention couldn’t fully distract young Brooke from her terror. She desperately wanted to make sure the snake was caught.
The Mills girls stayed safely inside while the heroic people from Animal control tried their best to find the slick and elusive rattlesnake. However, snakes are not the easiest animals to catch. Not only are they dangerous, but they are also quick and know how to hide and camouflage.
The Mills couldn’t help but speculate about whether the Animal Control people would find and successfully catch the snake without being bitten. They sure hoped that the people had enough experience and knew snake’s tactics on how to escape predators in the wild.
As it was, Joy and Brooke felt as though their lives were in the hands of the Animal Control employees and sure hoped they were capable. The family did not want to wonder if the snake was still around constantly, and Brooke wanted to join her friends at school.
The young woman was too petrified to go anywhere and unable to bring herself to cross the yard and get to her mother’s car to drive to school. After searching and scoring the entire property, the hard work of Animal Control finally paid off. They’d found and caught the snake!
Thank Goodness! Brooke and Joy were wholly reassured and could go on with their day. The horrifying vermin had been taken away, and Joy could finally convince Brooke to go to school. Despite everything that had happened, the day’s excitement had begun with the prospect of starting a new school year.
So, Brooke Mills finally made it to school, however late she might have arrived. The popular girl, of course, was cheered by her friends when she got there, and she was glad that the day was finally getting better. She had been through quite a trying ordeal!
One can but imagine the terror and fear that the mother and daughter must have felt during that fateful day. Fortunately, they made it through unscathed and lived to tell the shocking tale and share the incredible photograph. In retrospect, the Mills appreciated the picture Joy had captured.
It was a fantastic feat to have photographed such a snake in action. It was a beautiful animal and not to blame for its venomous fangs. Looking back, Brooke can cherish the picture for its crazy story and because it provided proof that she’d survived and came out stronger for it.