Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Grrr! (01/28/10)
TITLE: That Cambrian Age
By Troy Manning
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Given Ambrosia’s intense disdain for cockroaches, she turned into a crawfish instead. But as much as her irritation with her parents made her want to climb the walls, her cumbersome claws and legs made this impossible. She opened the window and climbed out like she did every other Tuesday night and took hold of the trellis. It gave way under her additional weight and Ambrosia collapsed onto the lawn. She was afraid the cracking noise of her shell might have woken her parents, so she sat quietly for a few moments before scuttling toward the pond.
Ambrosia received an initial chill as some of the October water seeped through the shell’s crack but she otherwise felt quite in her element. She was fifteen in human years and began to suspect that, in crawdad years, she was almost a fossil. It seemed rather tragic that a young girl who had just recently begun to take a more active interest in boys would have to settle down at the bottom with someone firmly encrusted in their shell. As she looked around however, not only did all the other crawfish appear terrified of her, but they were altogether too picayune.
She thought about going back to her old way of life but began to be concerned about the fluid issuing from her shell. She wondered what that might translate into in human terms. Rather than finding out the hard way, she decided to stay the night in the pond. As she was about to submerge, she saw the beams from two lights scanning the water’s edge. Even though she feared it might be her parents with flashlights, she realized they would never recognize her in her new regalia and moved closer to the shore.
Ambrosia recognized Ellis and Stanley Crawford, fraternal twins who were the same age as her in human years. She always thought Ellis was a bit of a weasel but the name Ambrosia Crawford crossed her mind more than a few times on account of Stanley. She presumed they were down at the pond at his bidding, as Ambrosia knew Stanley was really into crustaceans. She guessed correctly that making her presence known to the boys would send Ellis running. She thought the same might be true of Stanley since he would surely have never seen a five-foot crawdad before. To her pleasant surprise, he stood transfixed with his light upon her. Ambrosia imagined something of a halo effect from the gleam of the light upon her shell. Stanley didn’t move as she gently extended a pincer toward him.
Ambrosia nearly jumped out of her shell at Stanley’s piercing scream as she took his hand when she had only meant to hold it. She tried profusely to apologize but what seemed to her like speech must have been nothing but bubbles to him.
She watched as Stanley ran screaming toward his home. She allowed her body to drift to the bottom with that sinking feeling one sometimes gets when unintentionally depriving someone they care about of an appendage. She tried to drown but was unable keep herself from surfacing for air. She crawled despondently onto the bank and made her way back toward her window like she did every other Wednesday morning.
Ambrosia realized that with the trellis down, she could not climb up to her window. At this point, however, a cockroach no longer seemed beneath her so she became one and began the ascent. By the time she got to her room, she was her old self again, except that Ambrosia was now far more concerned about the wound Stanley sustained from her selfish exploits than her own.
When Stanley and Ambrosia later married, she tried to apologize for that night but he just laughed at her. He still loved crustaceans though, and was more than patient with the crabbiness that occasionally continued to overtake her. And those moments were quickly dispelled when Ambrosia Crawford thought how grateful she was that Stanley had still had a hand into which her father could place her own.
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