She stopped for a while, and looked up at the sky, for the first time in what seemed like ages. And as she looked, the charm of the few stars out that night drew her into their fire. Any closer and her delicate wings would be singed. Metaphorically, of course. She didn't know the stars by name, except for her old friend Orion, who was also her only friend. Her father had introduced them; he couldn't tell her much else about the night sky as he didn't take much interest in astrology. She couldn't see the Orion now, but had the romantic notion that he would be looking for her, too. The other stars seemed lost behind the grey, wispy clouds of early monsoon, even though the city lights had begun to die out little by little.
Melancholy wasn't natural to Olivia. The stars and a little walk along her usual path would make it all okay. She knew it in her gut, which she had grown to trust implicitly in her ten years even though it had betrayed her more than once, or twice, or a hyperbolic hundred times. She walked forward in the darkness, away from the street lights as they always hid the stars, in the place she called her other neighbourhood. It wasn't very far from hers, and lay on the outskirts of the city. It was a very quiet place, but painfully close to a noisy state highway. The streets were rocky, and perhaps older than the city itself. So was everything else: the stubby buildings that caged her in and away from the stars and even the power supply, she thought. She wished the lights had gone out tonight, like they often did.
But the lights, though dim, stubbornly pierced the heart of the sky and issued life-blood from the stars and clouds, that poured down on her in an abrupt instant. She wanted to go home, and also didn't. Her sister had left her not too long ago, but she had said she would be back. And Olivia would be here, waiting. The mere realisation that the frogs would be out that night was often enough to send Olivia running home. Not to mention there was a man lingering at the corner of her vision.
She was, by nature, suspicious of him. Perhaps it was the way he walked that suggested he was drunk. She had even fancied him for a zombie, but had shrugged off the thought. Perhaps it was just her. Believing his to have the same turns she had for a tad too long.
He had, though. A car passed by her, throwing their shadows on the broken road. The length of her stalker's shadow almost alarmed her, even though she knew light at an angle had the tendency to exaggerate things. And physics, of course. But she couldn't help be more than aware, at the critical point when the car was right beside her as it went, of how close his shadow was to hers, and risked a look behind.
Just an old man with a limp. Nothing to worry about.
"Are you alright, girl?" He approached her.
"Yes. Yes; I'm fine."
"You seem alarmed at my presence."
"I was; I-"
"That's fine. But you did scream, yes?"
She had. The man walked forward, and didn't look back. Olivia felt ashamed.
The rain stopped as abruptly as it had come, and all the rocks seemed to crawl. She felt sluggish, and walked very slowly, putting her toes down upon the road before her heels so her wet slippers made a pleasing sound against the ground. A sound like the clip-clop of horse-shoes, or rather, like the heels of fine ladies with slender feet. A sound like the rain.
The frogs were out, and she knew it. Every rock looked terrifyingly like one. She didn't know the difference between frogs and toads, but it didn't matter. She hated them all the same. But she walked on, drowning in whatever that worried ten-year-old children. Worldly worries, she told herself. Grown up stuff. Snap out of it.
She couldn't, of course.
A woman passed by her, and she was short and plump, and resembled a frog in most ways. She had evidently caught the flu, and would sneeze every two mincing steps. Olivia found this almost comical, but didn't laugh.
The frogs were everywhere, soon enough. The stones leapt up and ran from her path. She didn't care. Then there were more frogs, and she stepped on a few who couldn't move. She couldn't help it, either. There was another power-cut, and the street lights were snuffed out after a little struggle and flicker. One, however, remained.
She walked towards it, into the little yellow light it threw upon the frogs gathered. She could hear a faint tap of water somewhere close, but couldn't tell where it came from. And as she approached the light, the flicker seemed to stead itself until at last it was certain, and she was bathed in its golden glow. It was the only light in the city that night, but she didn't have to know. Behind the street light, a new road was partially illuminated. It was a better road.
Here were the frogs, and the stench of wet decay. Here was where the rain curled up into slime and met its untimely end. She was the ocean and stardust, like the rest of us, and she did not belong there. She knew this all too well, and so did they, but they held her hand with their slimy limbs and led her through. Here was acceptance, in a world of slugs and frogs and monsoons.
The frogs were huge, and very little. They were not afraid of her shapeless form that the rain had soaked. And they welcomed her. The emptiness of the sky resonated with empty croaks that filled it. The only thing powerful enough to stop this symphony was footsteps, as they came closer. The sound died, and the frogs hopped away, leaving behind nothing but a trace of slime.
"Come home, Olivia. Mother is worried."
Olivia longed to refuse, but couldn't. She walked home with her sister, leaving the broken light and sky and rain behind for what she knew would be forever. She had to go home; she had promises to keep, and work to do.
Written by WaveDivisionMultiplexer