On the Table with the Half-Eaten Birthday Cake

Rainie Oet


Diane had had two translucent tadpoles. Head-sized plastic tank on kitchen table. She could see their silvery hearts beating. They grew into two opaquer frogs. Big! Legs, legs! (From tails that self-devour.)

Looking at them, Diane imagined the ghost of her own tail trailing behind her, her seconds-ago self on a leash, dragged inextricably forward. Behind her, the door opened. Diane turned and looked, the doorway empty.

One day the one frog ate the other. Well, Diane came home to see just one where there'd been two—had there really been two? 

Diane grabbed the frog, fingers ripping through custom-chemicalled moss, and held it up in the air (dripping, kicking slowly), pinched between fingers, under the rotating ceiling-fan light. Diane could see the frog's heart pumping blood through its faintly clear body, but not the second frog inside. 

Diane shuddered and sighed as if she were in a movie, blown up on a big screen, in a dark theater, watched by hundreds of people without faces.