A benefit to living in Florida is that you get used to really weird things. Like gators, for instance. Around the corner from my parent’s house is a state park that’s home to canoeing, a really great swimming hole, and, yeah, a ton of gators. You just canoe around them. Behind my grandparent’s house is a lake that oftentimes has gators swimming in it. When they’re out, you just don’t let kids play by the water – simple as that. And then, overnight it seems, these gators disappear.
Florida wildlife is weird. And also very cool.
A month or so ago, my supervisor urged me to enter this Florida 250-word micro-fiction contest, wherein the prompt was simply “They named the gator…”. I didn’t win, but I still have my entry and thought i’d post it here. Though to me seeing a gator in your backyard is completely normal – apparently it isn’t for everyone.
(If interested, I’ve posted previously about weird Florida wildlife interactions, only that time about black bears!)
They named the gator Green, because that was its color. It showed up in their backyard one night, slithering out of the pond that gently shivered with the wind. How it got into the pond was never asked. They wanted to play with it, teach it tricks like they did their dog Chip (named after his color, too, that of a chocolate chip). Their mom said no and kept them inside, fearing what a gator would do with two inquisitive five-year-olds who yearned for another pet.
At night they snuck out anyway, creaking open the back door they’d seen their parents lock and unlock hundreds of times. With G.I. Joe flashlights in tiny hands, they crept down the yard until they sat beside the black pond. There was no air that night, no wind creating waves, but still there was movement. The water lapped against their naked toes as two yellow eyes watched on. “There,” one whispered, pointing a shaking finger. Green moved its head, blinked twice, then opened its mouth to expose rows upon rows of sharp teeth. Daggers glistening in the night. The boys screamed and darted back into the house, flashlights forgotten in the hustle. Woken up, their mom scooped them up nervously, reprimanding them for their disobedience.
After calming quivering fears and tucking them back into bed, she looked outside. The gator was still there, still staring at their house, waiting, contemplating. As if to say, come back. As if to say, goodnight.