Goodnight Pond

The tadpoles were in bed and Mike sat on his favorite lily pad looking up at the moon.

“Croak.”

He enjoyed that time of day.

George glided over. He liked to skirt the edge of the pond looking for snails. A tuft of weeds jerked up and down in his beak as he chewed. George was a duck.

“Hi, Mike.”

George didn’t care for frogs, as food, and so they could be friends.

“Hey there, George. Man, I saw that close call you had earlier today with Tracy. I was really pulling for you.” Tracy was a fox. She didn’t care for frogs either, as food, and so Mike was friends with her too. She was a good friend to have because she got around so much. The stories she could tell!

“Yeah. Thanks.” George munched away, not much of a talker. He drifted away, the moonlight sleek on his back.

“Croak.”

Mike dove in the water. He did not decide to dive in the water, but merely responded to a signal that went from his amygdala straight to his muscle fibers. The tongue of a snake flicked ever so slightly over the water. Gertrude. She cared for frogs as food very much.

Mike checked on the tadpoles and swam to a more discreet lily pad. He looked around cautiously before emerging from the water and happened to see a juvenile grasshopper not 3 inches from the edge of the pond. Again, he acted without being particularly conscious of thought and ate it. As he enjoyed the juicy, crispy treat, he wondered if the grasshopper had a name. Had it lived long enough to be called something by another denizen of the pond? Probably not, and he had saved someone the chore of coming up with a name. He looked up at the moon again, the benevolent, honey-colored moon, which had started to dip behind the elm trees at the far end of the pond.

“Psst.”

He nearly dove again, but recognize Tracy’s sibilant greeting.

“George been by yet?”

“George? Yeah, he came by a few minutes ago.” Tracy expelled her air and let her tongue loll to the side.

“Say, Tracy, what’s over there past the elm trees?”

“Oh, there’s some corn fields, a big old tractor gathering rust, lots of tasty mice.” She licked her lips.

“I wonder if I might visit there.” He didn’t know what brought on his sudden wistful feeling.

“A bit dry, I’d think, for someone such as yourself.” She paused. “How long George take to make a full circuit of this pond, you think? I wonder, maybe I’ll sit right here quietly and wait for him to come back.”

“Oh, George never comes around more than once. Probably tucked away for the night already. Croak.”

“Right.” She rested her chin on her front paws for a moment. “Eh, going to look around the side of the barn. ‘Night Mike.”

“‘Night.”

The pond was lovely, and soon the moon would sink down in its big pond in the sky, and he would do the same in his, and the tadpoles in the morning would be bigger. And maybe he would give them names.

“Hi, Mike.” George again.

“Tracy was here looking for you, but I put her off. I told her you went to bed.”

“I owe you one.” George stopped in front of Mike. He seemed tense, expectant.

“Something on your mind, George?”

“No.”

Suddenly George lunged for Mike. If Mike had thought about it he would have wondered what the heck his friend was doing. Fortunately for him his quick twitch muscles took over and he got away. There was a mad flurry of feathers and water and soggy weeds. When all was said and done Mike was still there, but George had eaten the tadpoles, saving Mike the chore of naming them in the morning.

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