No Regrets

It was normal for Katy to see mice and rats in the subway as she waited for the train. They gathered here every morning, more punctually than Katy had ever been, and scrambling for scraps and throwaway trash to add to their smorgasbord breakfast. What was not normal that morning were the toads and frogs strewn out all across the subway platform.
If New York wanted to be weird, she thought, let it be weird. She was of no mind to question it. Last night had been terrible and she was in a foul mood. Breakups always ruined the next day—or week, or year, depending upon the person and the circumstances. Peter wasn’t worth more than a morning of regret, on the other hand, since he had been so petty and manipulative, and so she had decided to waste only a little of the morning finding closure and peace— not with the ending of the relationship, but the beginning of it. She never should have dated him. It was a mistake from the start. It was a waste of three months. Had he not been so handsome she wouldn’t have wasted more than three hours on him. But he was handsome, like a prince, and she leapt at the chance to date him that night when he casually asked her out to dinner. Now she was ready for some time alone. Now she was ready for some me time.
Only, these frogs and toads were annoyingly everywhere. She gingerly stepped between them as she crossed the platform to board the newly arrived train. Inside, she found them all over the floor, the seats, and the windows. Small frogs. Huge frogs. Tiny toads. Fat toads. Toads that bulged like ugly purses. Tree frogs as lean and green as plant stems while they crouched on whatever nooks they could find. More surprising than these unlikely invaders were the reactions of Katy’s fellow passengers. Or, as it were, their lack of reactions. They glanced over them seemingly without seeing them. They sat on toad and frog alike without compunction. Not one twenty-something took pictures of the creatures with his or her phone— they didn’t even feel the urge to take selfies with them.
The train stopped and Katy stepped off.  She was met by another subway platform sprawling with frogs and toads. Once again she stepped mindfully between them, and her fellow New Yorkers— which was a bit awkward in stilettos—and she came to the rise of stairs, following them up and out into daylight once again, or as much daylight that could be had between the skyscrapers. She glanced up at a digital clock on the side of a bank and realized she was almost late. Hurrying across three blocks, she came to the office building where she worked. Here, too, the frogs and toads were strewn everywhere, but much worse in their numbers than anywhere else. Walking into the lobby, she saw several coworkers at the coffee stand, and all of them had frogs and toads clinging to their shoes and pants and skirts. Instead of being bothered by their stowaways, they all seemed instead to be bothered by Katy herself. They gave her odd looks as she walked by them. Women turned and whispered to one another. Men elbowed each other and grinned. Katy feared she was having a mental breakdown. Stubbornly, she fixed her brown eyes upon the floor, taking deep breaths and heading straight to the elevator. To her surprise, and relief, no one joined her in the elevator on the way up. When the elevator stopped at the next few floors, would-be passengers stepped forward, recognized her, and then stepped out.
“I’ll catch the next one,” they said.
Katy did not understand any of it.
Feeling lonely and vulnerable, and since she had time, Katy checked her phone. She had silenced it after her alarm clock went off that morning. There were several missed calls from her friend, Ashley, and from her mother. She thought to call them back, but by now the frogs and toads were multiplying exponentially within the elevator. She could not see where they were coming from, and their slimy bodies crowded around her, an acute claustrophobia overtaking her. When the elevator doors finally slid open, at the eighth floor, she nearly fell trying to escape it.
Angela happened by as Katy stumbled toward her cubicle.
“Good girl’s not so good after all,” she said with a haughty, knowing smirk. Frogs clung to her ears and hair. A tiny frog— not even the size of a fingernail—dangled from her nostril.
Feeling off-balanced and disturbed, Katy tried to ignore her. Angela always had been a conceited, petty diva.
Furtive glances followed her from around every cubicle partition, and with them came an abundance of frogs and toads. Katy arrived at her cubicle after an obstacle course of croaking, chirping, stinking amphibians. Her cubicle was overrun, too. Some of the little beasts were trying to mate with others, forming big clusters of obscenity that rose and collapsed in columns all over her desk. Dismayed, she could do nothing but gawp at it for a moment, wondering if she had suffered an aneurysm or had accidentally ingested LSD on the way to work. Just then, her supervisor, Dave, approached her.
“Katy,” he said, “I know you didn’t mean to do it, but it is a strict company guideline that anything posted on your social media accounts can impact negatively on your continued employment…”
Katy turned to face him, confused as to what he was talking about. A large fat toad squatted atop his head, hunkering down in the bald circle of his pate.
“The terms are severe, I know,” he was saying. “Harsh, even, and I know this is your one and only infraction, so I am going to try to contain it, if I can, and see if we can work out a deal with HR for a minor suspension— without pay, of course— but then you could be relocated into another position at a different firm.” The old man blushed bright red, and would not look at her. “You know, so it won’t be so embarrassing for you or your coworkers…”
“I don’t feel so good,” she said, interrupting him. “I need to go home.”
Dave nodded fervently, as did the fat toad on his head. “Yes, yes! That would be best. But only until we figure this out! Don’t worry about it. It’ll be water under the bridge in no time.”
The toad and frogs followed Katy home to her apartment. All along the way she came across more of them, which only swelled the ranks around her. Peter was waiting for her, his mouth wide with an amphibious smirk.
“I showed everybody that was on your accounts,” he said. “Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr. Pics and video and gifs. I showed everybody everything.”
Katy just looked down at him as he squatted in front of her door. He had expelled so many frogs and toads now that he was little more than a tiny creature himself. How, she wondered, could such a small creature gloat so expansively?
“I told you it wouldn’t be happily ever after if you broke up with me,” he croaked up at her. “I told you you’d regret it”
“Maybe,” she said. “But I won’t regret this.”
She squashed the prince beneath her stiletto heel.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s