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Rana

A friendship

By Sarahmarie Specht-BirdPublished 12 months ago 3 min read
Runner-Up in Tall Tail Challenge
3
Rana
Photo by Maddy Baker on Unsplash

“Serena?”

“Yeah, it’s me.”

Evening. Sunset. Flat gray rock by a pond ringed with long grass.

“You’re late today. It’s almost dark.”

“It was a rough day.”

Drop my bag down on the rock. It’s April, the world just now fully awake, reeds whispering against each other above the lapping water.

“Want to talk about it?”

Some days are easier than others. On those days, I can brush it all off. Remember that I only have a little while left here and then I’m free. Not let it get to me. And then there are the other days. When it’s all muddy. When I can’t sit above the surface. When the silt consumes.

“Not really.”

Grasses sliding past each other. Shush. The lightest little breeze. The sky is warm orange now, spilling through the trees. It took spring a long time to get here this year. For a while it felt like the peepers would never sing again, the pond’s grasses would never be green, the trees would never bloom. And then, suddenly, they did, all at once. It felt like a fanfare. Like a goodbye has begun. Or a good riddance. Or all of the above.

“Okay.”

My sketchbook is warped and funky from all the times I’ve shoved it in my bag. Its corners are fraying and almost all the pages are full. There are places where I’ve had to draw underneath something else, squeeze an image in the margins. Cattails dance with sunsets. Dragonflies mingle with moons. Fish poke their curious mouths to the surface. Open, close, open. Indecision and instinct and hunger.

The pencil hovers above the paper. I’ve saved a few pages at the end for the days I really need the fresh space. This is one of them. And here is the soft moment before the creation. The waiting to put instrument to material and make. Here, in this liminal place, I never know what will become. Here, I am not tormented. Here I am not bizarre. Here I am not other, and punished for it, and dead. I am creator, creating, waiting for the world to flow into my channel and become me.

The softest slide, the gentlest scratch. The graphite sings into being.

“You have a mark on your face again.”

Scratch, scratch, scratch. This world smells like chlorophyll. I can hear the peepers now. They sing so sweetly. Their voices so high. Higher than Rana’s. But beautiful still.

“It’s nothing.”

“I know you better than that.”

Flash of lightning, far in the distance. No thunder, no sound. The memory of a face, angry, bent in distorted rage. Crack in the distance. Crack beneath the skin. So tired of being here again. Counting down the days until freedom. And yet.

The gray slides against the white. Delicate curve here, a circle there, feet splayed on wet surface. Curious eyes looking up. Brown and green, eyes buried in sockets that let me know I’m seen.

“I’m scared.”

Complete the circle. Round the curve. Shade just so. Fill out the background. Scratch, scratch, scratch, scratch

“I know. That’s okay. It’s okay to be scared. But you have to do it anyway.”

It is the longest line I have ever heard her speak.

The light has almost faded. The house will be empty. He will have gone to forget. The sunset is red now—a warm red, an apple, a pie, an unbroken circle of light. In its dregs, I behold my amphibious likeness.

It’s not an exact replica. Rana’s eyes are more sparkling. Her toes splay more widely. Her back is not so dark, even where it rises above the water. The line of her mouth is more gentle, more turned up at the corners, lighter. But it’s her alright. Her, in her spot next to me, where she always is, where she has always been.

“I’m going to miss you.”

I show her the drawing. She smiles. Looks up at me with loving golden eyes. Says nothing. And says everything.

Fantasy
3

About the Creator

Sarahmarie Specht-Bird

A writer, teacher, traveler, and long-distance hiker in pursuit of a life that blends them all. Read trail dispatches and adventure stories at my website.

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  • Morgana Miller11 months ago

    Beautiful, morose, but beautiful. I really like your writing style. You painted so many vivid word pictures as your character sketched their own picture, and I loved that about this story. It felt very artful. Congratulations on placing!

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