For the love of frogs

As the rain falls, the ground squelches and dams overflow, I thought of a very short story (fiction) I wrote a few years ago…

The raw orange scar of the new dam was ugly. Wherever she stood, it leapt out from the subtle shades of the surrounding unskinned bush to catch in the corners of her eyes and accuse her of its injury. Scalped, disembowelled, the shape of the slope forever broken to make this awkwardly perched dish for catching raindrops.

‘It’s for bushfires,’ he boasted to the local blokes.

‘It’s for bushfires,’ she apologised to those rare visitors with an eye for beauty marred. More often she was apologising silently — to the land itself.

The scar would never heal, since the exposed bedrock clay did not belong to the realm of sunlight, could not grow softening plants. As the dam filled, she planted waterlilies, but their beauty only called attention to the glare of the eroding clay above.

‘It needs some life,’ she said.

‘I could put yabbies in,’ he offered, forgetting that she wouldn’t let him eat them anyway. For peace, and from laziness, he ate her vegetarian food, but he was a carnivore at heart. When they went to town, he secretly indulged — a hasty meat pie or a sneaky steak sandwich.

As he told his mates, she had some weird ideas, but he was on a good wicket here — and he’d always been a sucker for long legs like hers, especially in tight faded jeans, like now.

‘Or I could get some tadpoles from the big dam?’

The big dam was a gentle scoop in the land, its edges well-grassed. Deepened years ago from a natural depression, it had never seemed an interference.

From its shallows they filled a jar with tadpoles, bulging, brownish grey, semi-transparent. She carried them on their brief adventure through the world, tipped them into their new home, then forgot them.

Until the first thundery summer, when it sounded as if the dam had been taken over by a flock of demented sheep.

The big dam being far from the house, they’d never heard its frog chorus. She laughed when she checked the frog book — the tadpoles had to be baby Bleating Tree Frogs.

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