This week I get a little surreal and allegorical. Whether you like it or not, let me know. I value your opinions and am particularly fond of verbal thrashings. It keeps me humble.
One catches her eye and stirs something within her. She reaches out, lifts it from a large glass tank of rocks and foliage; takes it from its home. It is glistening wet. Resting in the palm of her hand it shifts from side to side, tucking limbs in close before becoming still and observant. He gets…comfortable.
Could this one be her prince?
Outside she imagines it is raining frogs; small greenish-brown frog droplets with limbs splayed to keep righted. They splat—or better yet, bounce—on moistened pavement, shiny cars, and vibrant green lawns. Most hop about after landing, adding to the effect on the ground where it looks like frog-popcorn.
There is a flag pole jutting out from a building which gives it the appearance of masculine excitement. A frog lands at the very end of the pole, which flexes and springs the little froggy away. The unlikelihood of the occurrence doesn’t escape her; she smiles distantly and sidelong.
She can’t explain her affinity for them. She loves the impossibly small jointed toes, long and slender. The nose—she thinks—is cute as a button; two holes ready for thread. The skin feels like soft rubber—like genetic nanotechnology stretched over rigid, rounded hooped lips.
She thinks it’s amazing that such fine and hairless skin can feel one way when it is dry and another when it is wet. She holds the slimy glistening frog up to her face, palm up like a waiter. It looks back, orange eyes seeing green. She waits until it blinks; it is a game the poor creature is not privy to. It is all too aware of the large mouth before it and swallows back a dry lump.
She is unaware of its anxiety, senses muddled by modest arrogance.
She runs her wet tongue slowly from the crown of its head, down along its spine; feeling the soft slimy rubbery skin stretched over knobby bone. After a moment it blinks its eyes back open. She considers the flavor: cucumbers and recently washed feet—or maybe it’s feet washed with a cucumber melon exfoliate. She glances into the tank with its frog varieties—colors like Jelly Bellys—wondering about flavors.
Too bad tasty frog doesn’t turn a prince.
Their names are sort of cool: Green Tree Frogs, White Tree Frogs, Red Eyed Tree Frogs, African Dwarfs, Firebellies (which are toads, but the name…). Taken together, the names follow a tree trend; which is sort of counter-culture to the normal thoughts on frogs here in the states. Our swamps—like our cities—are filled with frogs; green generic everydays singing into the evening. Singing for their dinner; singing for a mate.
She wonders on a mate; on her own prince. The thinking doesn’t go far, doesn’t get specific. It glazes over, fades to a blur, and is replaced with a grave sort of futile and bleak hopefulness. Yes, in the end it is a measure of hopefulness. Hope fans out in a nimbus of experiences.
Back to the contents of her hand, this speckled frog; its bulk is less than that of a golf ball as it sits, not blinking. She tosses it back and moves it about in her mouth, sucking and slurping as though it were…say, a jaw breaker. Limbs occasionally jut out in an effort to right itself like a child’s spaceship ride in mom’s dryer.
An ancient story presses out from memory; dredged silt thrown against a picture window, recognizable pieces showing in the smear. The name Jonah comes to mind. She makes the connection and the idea that she is the whale has her immediately spit the frog back out into her hand.
She’s no whale.
Holding it in her palm again, thumb resting ever so lightly on its back to keep it from jumping; she peers down into the tank full of different frogs. She imagines eating a cake like Alice. Imagines swimming with these frogs as if they are like-sized; her skin scintillating under the heat lamp. Could kissing one bring her a prince?
Or would the shoe be on the other foot?
I started playing around with a piece that was posted a while ago titled “Merrick Tree.” It is a story that haunts me occasionally. I wonder what the rest of the story really is—enough that I’m outlining it, playing with themes. I’m…fleshing it out.