A short memoir piece.
I spotted the toad as I made my way to the barn. It was just a warty garden toad, but to my seven-year-old mind, it was a prize worth catching. Slipping into stealth mode, I tiptoed my way over to the toad. On a typical summer day I could catch as many as five or six of these common amphibians.
My grandparents’ home in the Alabama countryside afforded plenty of opportunities for such activities during my summer vacation. Each catch, however, brought its own sense of excitement and conquest, and I relished every capture. Unlike many children (and adults), I disregarded the common myth that being peed on by a toad would cause warts. I was a child, but I wasn’t that naive. I had been peed on hundreds of times by frogs and toads, never once manifesting any ill side effects.
A noise behind me interrupted my reverie as I scooped up the unsuspecting toad. My brother, who was two years old than me, charged towards my quarry and me at full speed. Knowing my brother all too well, I began my flight towards the barn. He would surely kill my prize if I surrendered it to him. He disliked amphibians as much as I loved them.
Screaming and screeching, I zigzagged across the yard, hoping he would tire of his cruelty. I should’ve known better. Surely my grandparents would hear my cries and come to my (and the toad’s) rescue.
Unable to outrun my brother, I pitched the toad into the air repeatedly. Running forward, I caught it each time before it hit the ground. This distorted game of keep away continued for what seemed like hours.
Tired and hot from running, I made one last, desperate attempt to save the amphibian, which was surely in shock by now. Nearing the barn, I cast the toad onto the tin roof. The airborne toad flew gracefully through the air before making its descent.
The moment it landed I realized my mistake. A sizzling could be heard from above. My brother abandoned me for another pursuit. Holding my head in my hands, I cried.