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Enumerated enucleating effluence


Swamp

There I lay, on my back, eyes tickling with water half covering them. Washing in and out, blurring my vision, little islands of algae and dirt passing over my corneas. My ears, mostly submerged, every now and then peeking above the water line and I'd hear a gasping noise of the world above the puddle. When I opened my mouth, water rushed in. I could taste the putrid tang of the swampy muck in my mouth; tadpoles wriggling and fighting to escape. I breathed deeply, inhaling the water and the tadpoles in a raspy breath. Half air, half water. The tadpoles tickled as they fought to escape between the alveoli of my lungs. I lay still, fighting the nascent urge to cough out the water. I just let it sit there, right on the verge of a coughing fit, refusing to dignify it.

I could smell the tadpoles who had been unable to escape the shallower parts of the puddle. It was hot enough in the midday that they'd dried up, leaving thousands of them beached. They were rotting, their little bodies popping as their inner gasses expanded. It sounded like I lay in a huge bowl of Rice Crispies every time my ear canal breached the surface of the water. The smell nearly made me retch, but I held out.

Above me, the sky was gray with long heavy clouds. It was always just about to rain. The sun itself was an impotent pale disc. Just enough clouds in the way so that staring at it didn't hurt your eyes so much. The trees of the swamp reached above me, like bare black arms. Curling over me, as if futilely shielding me from the sky. But the sun was doing its work, even if slowed by the clouds. My skin was burnt, turning from pink to red as I cooked longer.

I lay in the shallow pool of dead or soon to be dead tadpoles, near the tall reeds in the swamp. And I thought about what had happened in the years before.

  • fiction