It had started raining in the afternoon and by the time we went to sleep, it was coming down steadily. When I woke the next morning, there were puddles in our front yard and the rain was still coming down. I walked downstairs to my basement office. The window was open and water covered the sill where the rain had been streaming in all night.
I grabbed a towel from the laundry room and wiped the sill dry. I started cranking the window closed as the rain kept coming.
Crank, crank. Squeak!
I stopped. I cranked one time slowly.
The sun wasn’t up yet, but it didn’t matter in the deep basement window well where it was always shadowed. I turned on the light. I looked into the well at the rocks. Nothing. I scanned the walls. Then I looked into the corner of the casement window, where the hinge mechanism opens and closes. In the tight angle between window and sill — made tighter by my cranking — sat Toad.
I almost squished him to death.
I was horrified but he just stared at me, as if to say “Death. Humph. What’s the big deal?”
I took off the screen, plucked Toad off and sat him on the rocks. He didn’t hop away. He didn’t croak — literally or figuratively.
My husband is worried about Toad.
“You should put him outside, somewhere out of that basement window well.”
“Why?” I said. “I think that’s his home.”
“Well, maybe. But it’s weird that he just lives down there alone with nothing but rocks.”
I agree. It does seem odd. Is he lost down there? Cut off from his toad relatives and friends and potential mates by some awful twist of fate that stranded him at the bottom of our lunar-like basement window well? He seems perfectly content. I think. I don’t really know what toads think, especially my Toad. So, every morning now, I check on Toad. He’s amazingly hard to find, just sitting there alone with a bunch of rocks. But he is always hidden in plain sight, right below my window. This morning, I took a picture of him. Who says toads are ugly? I think he (or she) is beautiful.
Yet, I still can’t help wonder whether he is a toad interrupted. If his presence outside my window is some kind of toad exile, a parallel toad universe where humans provide nice places to sit on open windows when it rains and develop a sixth sense for not squishing them accidentally.
Yes, I’ll keep checking on Toad.