Bullfrogs and Ferns

It started with the frost, soft and slushy and the color of bullfrogs. Myrna Jane had thought someone was dumping pollutants into the river, reported it to the authorities and scooped it to journalists. The scientists discovered nothing remarkable about the river water. The journalists sniffed around but found nothing worth pursuing once the scientists left. The tabloids, however, ran features on swamp monsters for three months before switching to aliens.

Myrna Jane spent the season feeling unwell. Her body ached to such a degree that she self-diagnosed fibromyalgia with the help of WebMD. A part of her still wondered about toxins from the river and if her insides were slowly rotting from cancer. There were just as many rumors the scientists had been paid off as there were about a swamp monster. And she didn’t have the insurance, money, or constitution for dealing with doctors to be sure what ailed her.

She didn’t remember the sex that had gotten her pregnant, but she did remember how good she felt that night. And she remembered the guy she had fancied at the bar off Highway Route 15. A handsome man despite his crooked nose, Pete had been quick to laugh, which made him easy for the locals to tolerate. When she’d been brave enough to meet his eyes on his last visit, emboldened by the euphoria that came from being pain-free, she let him buy her a couple of drinks and took him back to her place.

Once she’d known about the pregnancy she signed up for the government health insurance and forced herself to visit the doctor on the little one’s behalf. The doctor had refused to diagnose Myrna Jane with fibromyalgia, and had suggested that every symptom she reported could be explained by pregnancy, and that they could test for other issues after she delivered the baby. The doctor had emphasized that she was in good health and so was the baby, no sign of cancer. Everything was fine. Myrna Jane tried to believe it.

The birth came fast and hard. Her neighbor, an elderly woman, had heard her screaming and assisted her. Neither of them suggested calling for help. Myrna Jane struggled, but was unafraid. With the final push, Myrna Jane laid back, spent, eyes closed as she caught her breath.

When she opened them, her neighbor held her baby. Fear flashed in the woman’s eyes. The baby cried and she handed him to his mother. Myrna Jane took a good look at her son. His skin was bumpy and the color of baby ferns. Her heart sank even as she drew him to her breast.

Mother and son had been dozing together when the door opened and a man entered her home, unbidden. The man shared her son’s skin, but also had dark ridged protrusions on his face. A woman with a similar look hugged the walls, uncertain.

Myrna Jane nodded. “Cousins. How did you know?”

The man lowered his eyes. “I could smell him.”

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Genre: Paranormal
Wordage: frost, flash
Wordcount: 499

Image: Nicolas Guionnet

1 comment:

  1. Haha, this one stuck with me, even days after reading it. I loved the imagery of the last line. Very nice piece :)


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