I’d been working hard and needed a break, so I grabbed a book and headed for the hammock. My hammock is the perfect spot to relax.
I opened my book and felt so content. I love this place. I haven’t seen a drop of rain since I arrived, yet everything is so lush. It’s peaceful, but never silent. The air is alive with birds, laughter from the neighbor children, the bleating of the neighbor’s baby lambs, and the sound of roosters, who are the yapping dogs of villages everywhere. The giant bamboo stands creak in the wind like old rocking chairs.*
*When I first arrived I would have said “like the creepiest haunted houses imaginable why do they make that horrible sound all the time?!?!?” but I’ve gotten used to it now.
After a while, I felt a tiny twitch under my right butt cheek. Just one. Puzzled, I used the wall to push the hammock to one side so I could look under myself. I was expecting to see the landlady’s cat, or a chicken, but I saw…nothing. Very strange.
I went back to my book and my hammock-induced Trance of Relaxation. Several minutes later, I felt another little twitch. Still nothing under the hammock. I decided it must be a spasm in my glute. It felt like those muscle twitches you get in your legs after a long hike, or when your eye gets a tic. Weird, but I’d done a pretty intense yoga workout that morning. Stranger things happen to my body these days.
When I felt it again a little later, though, I was sure it came from outside my body. This time I did something dumb. I reached my hand underneath me to feel for… what? Barnacles? A scorpion? What did I hope to meet WITH MY HAND under that hammock? A stupid move, in retrospect.
What I felt was a lump. A weird, knobby, cold, damp, clammy bump under my right butt cheek. And it was unmistakably ~~ALIVE~~
I don’t remember having a single lucid thought about what was going on. Some primitive impulse rolled me out of the hammock onto the porch — and a half-dead frog tumbled out after me, landing belly-up with a splat and gasping for breath.
I’m proud to say I didn’t scream like that studio head in The Godfather when he finds the bloody head of his favorite horse in bed with him. Even though this was exactly like that. What a wimp! But I did shriek, loudly, then sat there stupidly for a moment. I’ve learned over the last two years that my reaction to a crisis is to become a brain-paralyzed and useless mouth-breather for several seconds. It’s like there’s a printer jam in my head. Not very helpful, but it’s what I have to work with.
My shriek didn’t attract any neighbors. Apparently I’m on my own in an emergency. When I recovered my functions, I checked out Kermit.
He was still lying there, breathing weakly but not moving. One leg was bent at a funny angle, but it didn’t look broken. I tried to help him flip over. He flinched when I touched him and my brain short-circuited again. Zzzztt. I couldn’t handle his pain or my guilt. (Also, I’ve never felt fatter in my whole life.)
I decided he was a goner and I would let him expire in peace. I’m sure my presence was no comfort to him. I went inside and flung off my sundress. It had a clammy damp spot on the back that might as well have been a blood stain. I’m not sure I’ll ever wear it again.
Then I went to Facebook, because when something dramatic happens to an extrovert, our first impulse is to tell someone, quick!
I went back to check on him with vague thoughts of a burial — but he was gone. I scanned the yard for a grinning cat or smug-looking chicken, but saw nothing. I’d only been gone about two minutes. Could he have recovered and hopped away?
I’m thinking yes. And since I’ll never know, please leave me my illusions.
I’m very lucky that it was a frog and not a scorpion or poisonous snake. In the Amazon, our guide taught us to always look before we touched, and I follow that rule religiously here. I look at the wall before I reach for the light switch, I look in the toilet before I sit on it. Why on earth would I just drop my butt into a hammock without looking? I assure you that won’t happen again. I have a sophisticated 3-point hammock check program in place now.
I’m struggling to find some other moral for this story, some greater meaning in the little guy’s suffering, but I’ve got nothing. Maybe you can see a theme here that I’m missing? If so, please drop a comment below!