This story was originally written for a class with Tim Waggoner.
For a lizard, I was a late sleeper, but I enjoyed my evenings just the same. I always woke up thirsty and hungry. I slept between two small shrubberies on the edge of some giant’s structure. I don’t know what to call it. The giants would go in and out of it. I only noticed because it was imperative that they didn’t step on me.
Water was nearby, and I darted down the trail towards it. Ahhh, the wonderful trail which only us lizards seemed to use; however, one time I saw a snake on the trail. I could make good time on the trail. At the end of the path was the lake all the lizards drank from. Fed by a box sticking out of the wall of a bigger structure. Every few seconds a drop of water would splash from high above into our lake.
I lapped up water and more water to gather up my strength for the trek into the woods where the prey lived. I had to cross one of the giant’s roads, and the giant’s vehicles would zip along the strip trying to crush me. I smiled for I would be eating soon enough. Assuming a good day to hunt. If worst comes to worst, I could hunt in the giant’s refuse pile. Always a good breakfast to be had if you were prepared to go through the garbage and risk the giant’s ire. Being a lizard from a long line of talented lizards, I’m not too proud to go for the easy pickings if I get hungry enough.
I took off in a run towards the road. I looked left, and the way seemed clear. I didn’t miss a step. I had my momentum built up and galloped with all four legs across the hot asphalt. I crossed the stretch of cool grass separating the lanes and looked to the right. The road was quiet and empty. I ran as fast as my little lungs would let me.
Ahhh, the shade and cool green foliage of the woods stilled my racing heart. I stopped underneath a fern and started telescoping my eyes about. I zoomed in on spots and specks here and there looking for life. I saw a spider, and not anyone I knew, so I waited for it to come close to me. Once within my talented reach, I lashed out at it with my tongue lassoing it. Mmmm, crunchy.
Then I paused and looked around. I swallowed the spider. The tiniest vibration came through the ground, and I said to myself, “Ants.” I looked and looked. They rounded the edge of a tree. An entire row of them. They just kept coming. When there were more of them in view than I could possibly eat, I jumped in close and started harvesting them in threes and fours with my tongue.
After the buffet, I went back underneath the fern and smiled. I didn’t bother looking for more grub. I could barely move; I was stuffed so full. No way could I run back to the lake like this. Perhaps it was time for my nap. I took a careful look around to make sure there were no giants, and I closed one eye. I thought back to those tasty ants, and I slowly drifted off to sleep.
When my eyes opened, the sun was setting low in the sky. Once again, I was thirsty. I ran across the road again to the lake and drank my fill of the water. Wendel approached the lake while I drank, and he said, “Have you seen the signs?”
Wendel was a rather stupid lizard with mostly green scales and a few freckled blue ones.
“No,” I said.
He smiled. “Somebody put signs up on the trail.”
I laughed. What would lizards need signs for?
I considered going across the road again and hunting some more, but I am rather lazy for a lizard, and I wouldn’t want to get fat. I hit the trail to go home. That’s when I saw it, the tiniest little wooden sign on the side of the trail. It said, “Looking for more?”
I paused. Was I looking for more? Other than a female lizard I had everything, and sometimes female lizards drank at the lake, pretty ones, too. One I talked to was named Jill.
I kept going down the trail. I saw another sign. “Do more with your life.”
I paused. What was I supposed to be doing? I eat, I forage, and I sleep. I’m a lizard, golly.
I started going down the trail. I saw a sign that said, “Wake up and do something.”
“Huh?” I said.
I turned around and headed back to the lake. Wendel was still there, and I walked up to him and said, “Who put those signs there?”
I hissed a little bit. “Somebody has to know.”
Wendel looked me in the eye. “Did you see all the signs? Or did you turn back to talk to me?”
“I don’t know.”
“They make more sense if you see them all.”
I followed the trail again. The last sign said, “Get a job.”
I froze in my tracks. I started running down the trail to see if there was another sign. “Get a job” was the last sign. What is a job?
I walked back to the lake hoping to encounter Wendel again. Instead I saw Jill. “Hi, Jill.”
Jill smiled at me. “Have you seen the signs?”
“Who do you think put them there?”
“It had to be the giants.”
“Why though?” I asked.
“Who knows why a giant would do anything. Want to breed?”
“Ummm, not right now, I want to know what this ‘job’ thing is.”
“You don’t want one of those, Jeremy. They suck the life out of you.”
“What is it though?” I asked.
“You really don’t know?”
“You know how we hunt insects? Well, a job for us would be like you hunt insects, but you don’t eat them. You give the insects to another lizard. That lizard gives you something called ‘money’ for the insects you catch. Then you ‘buy’ insects to eat with the ‘money’ you have.”
“Would the ‘money’ I make from hunting insects be enough to buy more insects than I could hunt?”
Jill chirped a few times, what must have been laughter. “You’re an idiot. Maybe we shouldn’t breed.”
I sighed. “But, I’m good looking. Isn’t that enough to breed?”
“You’re good looking, but you’re kind of clumsy and stupid.”
“I am not!”
“Eh, I’m out of the mood anyhow. See you around.”
I went down the path again past all the signs to my shrubberies. I tossed and turned all night. The next morning I hit the trail again, and this time there was a new sign, and it said, “GEICO Insurance.”
I was at the lake, and a giant turned the corner carrying a crate of some kind made out of shiny metal. The giant looked down at me. “We’re not going to hurt you, little guy.”
I froze in terror. A giant had never spoken to me.
“We need a new mascot, and you’re just the looker we’ve been looking for.”
I paused. I wanted to run. I really wanted to run. But the curiosity engine of my mind was overpowering my reflexes with a desire to know what was going on. The giant reached down with its paw and scooped me up and put me in the box. “You’ll like your new job, little fella.”