by Darby Larson
The thing with lights for eyes answers yes to my question of whether snakes live in lakes. They do, the thing says, yes. And I see the thing is being sarcastic. Snakes, it says, live in lakes, at the bottoms of lakes, at the soggy bottoms of great lakes, snakes make stakes. The thing with lights for eyes says nothing for a moment and looks into the lake we both look at from the tops of rocks. I see where it looks, beams of light on the green water. Eels, I say.
Later we camp in a tiny tent, parallel sleeping bags, head to toe, toe to head. The thing turns out the lights, shuts its eyes.
I dream I am a fish caught in the mouth of a bear. It is a quick dream. I wake quickly. The whole dream was I was a fish caught in the mouth of a bear.
The lights are bright in my eyes. The thing's face is over mine. It is telling me about the snakes. It is furiously telling me about the snakes.
The gills on our necks are flapping. We are on the bottom of the lake. We are in the tent that is now staked to the bottom of the lake. The tent crawled to the bottom of the lake while we slept in it. Or the lake moved on top of us.
The thing holds a snake in between its eyes and my eyes and all I see is a blurry silhouette of it. A snake! A snake! the thing, says. I say, sure, okay. No, it's an eel, the thing says. I say, sure, okay. There is a time for sarcasm and there is a time for sleep, I say.
Lights above us, faint. Giant lights. A roped ladder dives through the water and the thing with lights for eyes grabs hold and is taken to the surface. Maybe it is a helicopter, I think. Maybe it is its mother.
I take in a lungful through my gills and rest on the bottom. A few eels slither above my head and I smile at the thing's sarcasm.
I am a fish caught in the mouth of a bear. I am torn apart and consumed by the bear. A piece of my skin is left near the edge of the lake and in the morning, a dragonfly lands on it, attracted to its shiny reflection.
Darby Larson lives in Northern California. He blogs at http://www.darbylarson.blogspot.com.