Painting Using Negative Shapes
News for November
Tadpolesby Deirdre M. Murphy
Today it rained. Like that's a surprise. It always rains in my birthday month, though it does not always rain frogs.
The ones I felt the sorriest for were the tadpoles. Oh, the ones that fell in a lake will be all right, but they fell everywhere. One even fell into my soda, and swam around looking surprised, and then a little bit drunk.
Cora leaned over to peer at it. Her drink wasn't invaded by a frog. That kind of thing never happens to her. So of course, she wanted to look at mine. "Will it be all right?"
That's Cora for you, always worrying about the wrong thing. I mean, there we were, talking about how to get the Wind Serpent to stop sending rain so I could have a proper birthday party, and she's worrying about a tadpole. "I'll trade you." I offered her my drink, and we traded. As soon as my hand touched her glass, two tadpoles fell into it.
"It's a sign." Amanda said it very solemnly, like she really knows something, and never mind that she's always copying our notes because she daydreams her way through classes. Her drink didn't have any tadpoles in it either. "You have to make an offering to the Wind Serpent."
"Fine." Disgusted, I poured Cora's drink on the ground. "Here, Wind Serpent, I offer you excellent soda, with tadpoles."
Cora scooped up the two tadpoles I'd dropped on the ground, and then started gathering as many as she could find, the ones that weren't dead, anyway, and tossed them into the bird bath. Never mind that the birds would eat them there, as soon as we weren't standing around making noise.
I looked up at the sky to see if my offering was accepted, and a whole slap of tadpoles hit my face. If anything, it was raining harder.
"Way to go, Sassy." Cora looked up. "If this keeps on, the rain will wash away the dance hall, and none of us will have parties this year."
I wiped tadpoles out of my hair. "I'm not making it rain!"
"You're not trying to please the Wind Serpent either. Amanda, what does she have to do?"
Amanda looked off into the distance, daydreaming again. Finally, she answered, "You have to dance."
I twirled around, but just got more tadpoles in my hair.
"Not like that. You have to do a serpent dance."
"A serpent dance." Amanda held out her hand. "Give me your coat."
"But I'll get soaked!"
"That's the point."
I crossed my arms. "Forget it."
She shrugged. "Then forget about your party."
I stomped back and forth, frogs leaping away from my feet. Finally, scooping five tadpoles out of a pocket and tossing them into the bird bath, I gave in. I was soaked under the coat in any case. "Fine. Here."
Amanda took the coat and draped it over a garden chair. "Now lie down."
"In the mud? With the tadpoles? You've got to be kidding!"
"You have to dance like a serpent."
"No way!" I crossed my arms again, trying to ignore the frog that landed on one hand, and proceeded to hop its way across my forearms to the other hand, before leaping into the birdbath.
Cora and Amanda looked at each other, then Cora calmly knocked me over. Amanda nodded. "Now, wiggle."
I started to get up, and they tackled me, then started tickling me. I wiggled, all right. I squirmed. I rolled in the mud. I tried to escape, then tried to cover my sides with my skinny arms. And I laughed until I couldn't draw in breath to laugh with.
Finally, they stopped, and we sat there in the rain, covered in mud, and catching our breath.
While we panted, the rain changed to drizzle, then stopped. The sun peeked over our shoulders, and a bright double rainbow stretched across the sky in front of us.
And I had to admit that maybe Amanda does know a thing or two, after all.
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