A Reptilian Tale
Looking back, I remember the day well. I was skipping rocks near the water’s edge, when I spied two bulbous sockets breaking the liquid plain. Parting the waters like a submersible vessel, her massive crocodile body rose up. Her head cocked slightly as she surveyed my posture. I held the nonthreatening pose of a seaside pelican. She promised not to eat me for lunch if I promised to be a good listener. We both agreed.
I sat on a limestone shelf – one toasted by the morning sun. I leaned in close to her large triangular head. Her rows of teeth brought to mind the alien pillars of Bryce Canyon. I recalled how I’d been more enamored by Utah’s stalagmite forms than all the grandness of the Grand Canyon. I was surprised when her putrid breath hit my face. I didn’t wince, for those cold melancholy eyes kindled my reptilian compassion.
She sighed or snorted through her surface nostrils then whispered why she was brooding. Her words confounded me. She wanted – or that is – desperately needed to share her miraculous beauty secret. I didn’t know crocodiles held vanity in high regard. Expecting to pen an extensive list, I licked the tip of my blue ballpoint and flicked over the spent pages of my pocket-sized notepad. I sat pumped at the edge of my toasty rock. This astounding, fifteen-foot, two-hundred-year-old reptile appeared primed to live two-hundred more years, I suspected she must possess a powerful cosmetological recipe. I was certain, minerals and plant wraps would be involved.
Then that ancient reptile with rows of murderous teeth and callous gold eyes confessed to me that she’d been cheating death. I leaned in closer, my Bic hand sweating. She said humans had it all wrong and that crocodiles did most definitely shed tears, in fact, they shed many. It was tears that escaped her yellow eyes when her children were taken. It was fear that had frozen her ancient heart, when her bold sons and brazen daughters became pricey stilettoes and elite attaché cases.
Before sinking back into the dark water she whispered her beauty secret to me. “Beauty is submerging your body in quiet bubbles. Beauty is water changing from aqua to deep blue as the orange sun burnishes the wavy surface. Beauty is living two-hundred years and hoping to live two-hundred more.”
I watched the silent trail of delicate foam disappear along with her brown, wrinkled form. I never saw her again. I did not pen her beauty secret in my frayed notepad.
May you dream beautiful dreams when you’re two-hundred years old.
Croc rendered last week with Tombow markers, a little white acrylic paint, a touch of Prisma pencil and lots of coffee. :-)