I know about the frogs, Mother, and I’m coming. You hear their wet, slimy bellies smack the bedroom walls. Dozens of yellow unblinking eyes stare at you. But don’t worry. I’m coming.
I know they waited until sunset, and now they’re everywhere – on the old oak dresser Dad built decades ago. Clinging to the vanity mirror you loved to polish. They’re jumping on the roll-top desk where you sat and wrote to me every week I was in Vietnam. They’re looking at you. But try to pretend they’re not there.
Mother? I’m on my way, just held up a little. I can’t wear the clothes in this closet. But it’s almost dark, so maybe no one will notice I have no clothes. The sun is setting, large frogs have invaded, and clothes or no clothes, I will come.
There are even more frogs now, aren’t there? I hear the thumps when they land on the carpet. You are under the covers. Your eyes are clamped shut, your fists grip the bedspread tight, and your hands are shaking. You’re terrified one will land on your bed.
You’re still trying to pretend they’re not there, right? Don’t give up. I’ll be there soon.
Mother, please don’t cry. I hear you sobbing. The doorknobs here won’t turn in my hands. The window locks are too slippery to grip. But I hear the cries you muffle in the pillow, so don’t be afraid. I promise, I am coming.
“I’m on my way; it won’t be long now. I’m a little lost, but I’ll get my bearings straight. I must have opened the door after all, because now I’m at the bus station. I don’t know when the next bus comes, and I tried to ask, but nobody answers. I have no clothes, and nobody hears me. But I hear the frogs starting to croak. I know you want to scream, but please don’t. Buses run all the time, and I’m coming.”
You’re quiet now. But not the frogs. The belches and croaks, the thud-thud-thud when they land, the sticky squelch of their feet – it’s frightening you more than their staring. But I’m on the bus now; I’m on my way. It’s sunset, large frogs have invaded, and they’re loud. It’s true. But it won’t be long until I’m there to gentle away your fear.
Here I am, Mother. I slipped right through your front door and flew up the stairs. My feet never touched the ground, I was in such a hurry. You were right. Large frogs have invaded, and they are very frightening. But they can’t hurt you now. This I know.
Mother? Answer me, please? Can you pull down the blanket, so I can help you out of bed? My hands slip right through the cloth. I see your tiny frame under the covers, but these fingers can’t feel you.
Please, move – make a sound, something? It can’t be I’m too late?
Listen, the frogs are quieter; they’ve stopped jumping. The sun has set. Stars shine, and moonlight streams through your window. The frogs have started to disappear. It’s safe to come out now, see?
Mother, don’t rush to sit up. Your clothes still cling to you. Hold on a minute. Wait, Mother…where are you going?
Please, wait. You’re almost gone now through the ceiling. Don’t fly away so fast, Mother. Wait for me. I’m coming!
Joan Caska is a freelance writer who specializes in writing magical realism, flash fiction and literary short stories. She lives in upstate New York and enjoys studying the craft of writing, reading great work and being inspired by local writers in workshops throughout her community.