by Jonathan Cardew
The frog was in its usual spot by the median rail. It was enormous, the size of a cat at least. It was sitting in a divot in the grass, which had filled with water. I suppose he had everything he needed. Except food. That was surely lacking on the median.
“How did you end up here, mate?” I said to the frog.
The frog was chewing on something big. Its slit mouth did a sort of Mexican wave—its pink tongue flashing out. I’m guessing it was eating wings. Probably a dragonfly’s. It was too dark to tell.
Was it actually a toad? No, it couldn’t be. Toads were fat, squat things; this had well-muscled legs. It was more legs than fat. It was bright green, too, which was another giveaway.
* * *
“Why are you back?” asked Marjorie. She was standing in the doorway with her hand on the frame.
I looked past her and saw that my plate and cutlery had been cleared away.
“I just had to run an errand,” I said.
“I thought you’d gone for the night.”
“No, I’m back.”
She wasn’t moving. She remained pinned in the doorway. I thought I heard voices and music coming from the living room, but it could easily have been the TV.
“We’ll talk later?” I said, thinking about the frog in the boot.
“Oh sure,” she said, closing the door with a flick of the wrist.
I was surprised by how fast the door shut.
I was surprised by how much make-up she was wearing.
I sat in the car with the rain tapping on the roof and pouring down the windscreen.
The frog was making some kind of noise in the boot. It was almost a chirrup. It sounded like birdcall. Understandably, it was a bit upset about being trapped in the back.
“Be quiet,” I said into the rear-view mirror.
My options were to book into a hotel or walk back to my house.
Either option involved the frog.
Jonathan Cardew’s stories, interviews, and articles appear or are forthcoming in Atticus Review, Flash, JMWW, People Holding, Smokelong Quarterly, and Segue, among others. He teaches at MATC in Milwaukee. He was a finalist in this year’s Queen’s Ferry Press Best Small Fictions. More at his website: https://jonathancardew.wordpress.com/.