When we met you were angry. You felt as if the universe had cheated you from a proper life. Of course, it had not. The dice were rolled the same for you as for everyone else.
“Look, I already have thirty two years done with,” you say, “I am not starting over.” You pace up and down our surrounding nothingness. All that exists here is my desk and my chair. I pull your file from a drawer.
“There’s nothing I can do about it. This is just how it works.” You contemplate this information quietly before responding.
“I want to make the choice,” you say, “and I want to be a falcon. Or an owl. I think I deserve that much.”
I laugh. You frown.
“Was that funny to you?”
“People always said that I was funny.”
“I’d have to agree.”
“I don’t want to lose myself. I don’t want to change.” “But you will.”
“Where will I go? Who will I be?”
I shrug, “ what will you be?” I correct. Your eyes widen. “Who are you?”
“You like observing people?”
“No,” you say, “They never stop thinking. It isn’t at all entertaining.”
I laugh again, “You don’t approve?”
“Can’t say that I do.”
“You didn’t really do much with your thirty something years, did you?”
“Thirty two years,” you say, “and I had a family. I had a career.”
“What will happen to my family now that i’m gone? Will they be okay?”
“Do you actually care?”
“They’ll go on as they always have,” I say, “like nothing ever happened. As if you never died.”
“Oh.” You don’t seem surprised.
“Look . . .” I say, “it’s time for you to go.”
“I’m scared,” you squeak, “I don’t want this.”
“I’m sorry, I really am.”
“What’s the point of this?”
There is water on all sides of you. Consume , your brain tells you, and so you do. You grow exponentially in a matter of a few weeks. Now inches long, you sprout tiny legs and creep hesitantly from your creek. Nothing motivates you spare innate urges to procreate and eat.
You seek refuge in the crevice of some cracked limestone and name that place your home. From there, your weak eyes struggle to witness the metamorphosing twilight. Bats stir overhead. Your neighbors are composed of black beetles and mosquito larvae. In your past life, you had wondered if lesser creatures, who feasted on insects and such, felt that they had a fine taste. Now you know that they do not have any distinct flavor. They do, however, have a satisfying crunch.
Your life is simple. You creep around with no true destination. You consume whatever you come across and mate without formalities. When a possible predator lurks nearby, you hide behind towering stalagmites. In the small moments of time in which you are not hunting, or being hunted, you are sleeping. All you know of the world is that the cave floor is wet, glossed by a fine mist, and that you’re always hungry.
It’s much easier for you in a rotten grotto than it ever was in a three bedroom house stamped in the middle of the suburbs. Salamanders don’t have children that resent them, they don’t have debts, and they have no responsibility outside of protecting their lives. The nature of the salamander is isolated, easy going, therefore you belong perfectly to the algae and the darkness.
We never got the chance to meet again.
Provolone Sinatra is an emerging writer from the University of Central Florida. Follow him on Twitter @CavinBryce