Like her namesake, Trout lies motionless on the water. Her arms are stretched out beside her and her short hair pulls behind her. Her backside, still encased in its plaid school skirt, lightly scrapes the creek bottom as she drifts. She closes her eyes. For this moment, her mind is still.

And still is good, better than the disgust she always carries. She’s never really liked anything or anybody, but lately, just lately she has to admit that life is serving up a few treats.

It blooms like a secret inside her, and it’s about her software design class. It started off as stupid as all the rest of school and the half-witted cattle who go there. But Monty, Mr Montgomery, gives her a lot of extra work and projects, and then one day she’s working on source code. Her eyes pop open, and she thinks, when you’ve got the principles you can make sense of anything. You can create whatever you want. The world of technology swells before her, no longer a sewer of emojis and selfies. The course has a lot of carry-on about team work but even that isn’t too bad, as long as she gets to work with Toby or Max, who aren’t complete morons. It’s like the future has a crack of bright sunlight shining through the perpetual cloud.

“Hey, Trout, don’t move.”

It’s a boy’s voice, nearby, quiet. Trout is startled and splashes to her knees. She registers one of the older boys from school. “Zach!” she hisses. “You followin’ me?”

“Keep still. I’m not some pervert, I’m just walkin’ along the creek. But look.”

Trout wobbles erect in the shallow water and looks in the direction Zach is pointing, toward a clearing close to the creek. She can’t make sense of what she sees. It looks like a stake pounded into the ground, but it undulates. And it had two heads.

“What is it?” she breathes. “Is that a two-headed snake?” She lurches backwards to put some distance between herself and the thing.

“No, just stay still,” says Zach. “It’s two red-bellied blacks, copulating. They’re too busy to care much about us.”

“Copulating? You mean, like, having sex?”

“Yeah. Mating. They do that this time of year.”

“I never heard of such a thing. You’re full of shit!”

Zach squats down on his heels, watching the snakes closely. “Did you know the female can carry the male’s sperm in her cloaca for years and years, until conditions are right and she feels like making eggs? And did you know a snake has two penises? Hepipenes, they’re called. How about that?” He glances at her before returning his gaze to the snakes.

“You ARE a pervert,” she says. She can’t suppress a hint of a smile.

“Nah, I’m just interested in how animals work. The bloody creativity of nature bends my mind.” He stands and turns to look at her. “But on the other hand, it’s kinda fun looking at you drippin’ wet with everything stickin’ to you. School clothes never looked so good before.” He grins at her. “Won’t your mother kill you?”

Trout shakes her head like a wet dog. “I don’t care. It was hot.”

Zach reaches out his hand to help her climb the shallow bank. She accepts the gesture, a new kind of self-consciousness flowing through her. She stands beside him, dripping, while they silently watch the snakes in their sinuous dance.

The world crackles with the energy of creation.

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1 Comment

  1. Adele

     /  November 10, 2017

    Wow Heather Bolstler this is a beautiful short story. I wanted more!!


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