“You want another one?” he asked in a voice meant for church. He always sounded expectant, as if he was waiting for me to become a better person.
“I’m still eating this,” I said, sticking out my tongue to reveal the cantaloupe lifesaver. I noticed my nails, how long they’d gotten, more like claws. I noticed my shell ring. It was half missing, not a good sign.
We were in his Camaro on a sticky July night. We’d just made out, bodies gnashing. My lips still tingled, my skin burned from the entire day at Stimson Beach. “You going to invite me in?”
He shrugged. His shaggy locks fell over his forehead like a wig that was too far forward. “Sure. But I have to warn you. I have something new.”
My brain raced as we walked toward his porch- another woman, lost his job, STD? We stood in his cluttered living room, he flipped on a light. Might have been better in the dark.
“I have a new pet,” he said. “Follow me.”
Great. I hate cats, not crazy about dogs. Birds nauseate me, hampsters scare me. He was leading me toward the bathroom. “Don’t tell me it’s a freaking turtle.”
“Shhh,” he turned around, finger held to those lips. Switched on a flashlight, slowly opening the door, as if a dinosaur might eat us.
I swallowed, hard.
And there, floating in the bathtub: a yellow-striped baby alligator. Those lifeless eyes glared at us, eyes I will never forget.