by Anna O’Brien
They say don’t open with the weather but how can you not when she opened the door and in came:
The rain, no;
The pouring rain, no;
Cats and dogs and, no;
Dead fish, better;
Wind and rain and toads somehow dry as parchment.
And that’s what made her close the door again, go back to bed, and push her dented shoebox of memories and secrets further under the covers, so far she could touch it just with the tips of her bare toes.
But as she turned over on her good hip and pulled her knees into her stomach in that C shape of recessive comfort, there sat a toad on her lumpy pillow, fat yet taut, like a wrestler on TV, banded in dark green with kind eyes and a mouth that croaked:
“Hello, hello, my daughter.”
And she had to push herself up on her good arm and squint in the muted light of the late afternoon bedroom and teeter in that delicate space between horror and awe because this is exactly what her children wouldn’t believe, or her doctor, or that kind waitress at the café, but it would be exactly what her father, so long ago, would dream up.
And if you can’t say all that because it started with the weather, then what the hell is that poor woman supposed to do?
Anna O’Brien is a writer and veterinarian living in Maryland. She is a contributing editor for the magazine Horse Illustrated and managing blog editor for the speculative fiction journal Luna Station Quarterly. Her fiction has most recently appeared in Cheap Pop, X-R-A-Y Literary, and Mojave River Review. She is a 2017 Pushcart nominee. She loves bicycles and dogs and bicycling dogs. She can be found on Twitter: @annaobriendvm.