Andrey Shamshurin, 130 TESS
The frogs are making love in your shoe again. It is a blue sneaker, sand stuck to the rim, dented toe, heel loose and peeling. You shake the frogs out, flat fingers stuck to wet stone, red stripes marking their backs. You can’t tell why they are in this rose garden, why this shoe is their house. Or maybe, not a house—perhaps something metaphorical, like a church or brothel. The wind swirls the grass and the loose bush leaves, roses soaked in warm drizzle. Maybe, you wonder, there’s something in the sweat of farangs that attracts frogs. Their eyes rest on each other, slippery skins, loose tongues.
You wonder about their frog life: How did they meet? Did he use a pick up line: “Yo, babe, you look hoppin’. Let’s hook up in that farang’s shoe.” Did he find her on in a bush? Ask about her life? Chat about philosophy? Are they married? How long? Is this shoe a sign of their commitment to each other?
Rain spots spread along the shoe. The frogs don’t move, their bodies frozen in the wind. Maybe, you think, after a long marriage, jumping doesn’t feel the same, and her eyes drain when he is near. Maybe the taste of mosquitoes and flies no longer clings to her tongue, so they go back to this spot, where they met, where the rain soaks into the garden, and the white and yellow roses spill into the air, cut through the shoe, swell the wind to some semblance of passion slipped from sounds and smell.
Perhaps she is not his wife at all, but a “gik,” some sidepiece his frog wife knows nothing about, and after he impresses the girl with the garden and the farang who walks around in his underwear, reciting poetry, they make it to the broke-down shoe, but she’s not ready yet, so he tells her stories: how he will leave his wife, how the wind races in his little frog heart, and how this shoe is their only shelter from the cruel world, baby. Maybe they picked this shoe because it is dirty, because it smells like their intentions, and beneath a story of a happy frog life, he’s doing this frog chick and coming back to his frog children. The frogs stare at you. A cluster of roses sways above their small heads. ”Shame,” you say, “what will your wife think?”
You wait for an explanation, the frogs to develop speech, or at least sign language. But they don’t. And you stand there until the wind has settled to a soft brush along the long rose stems and the rain has dried—and the frogs, in unison, hop over the frayed shoelaces, limp on the ground like flaccid worms, dive into the shoe, and keep going.
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