Three more inches.
Crab strained his eyes. He could just see the tufty bit of root sticking out of the earth, three torturous inches away. It had been two hours that he had spent on his back, wiggling himself towards that root. And he had covered a single inch in all this time.
The root was his salvation, the only thing he could grab to get back on his feet. To get out of this dark dark hole. Three more inches. Crab forced his entire body to concentrate... Wiggle, man, wiggle!
Stupid. He had been stupid. The hole had seemed so innocent. So inviting. There was bound to be food inside, he had thought, and he would find it. Instead he had found himself on his back, as helpless as a silly turned turtle, and with no possible way to get out, except that stupid root he still couldn’t reach. He wiggled with all his being, celebrating each millimeter won with a gasp.
Two! More! Fucking! Inches!
Out of the corner of his eye, he could see a squirrel’s skull, yellow and fragile. So he wasn’t the hole’s first victim. But no way. No way. He wasn’t going to die here like that dumb mammal. He wasn’t going to die such a meaningless, ridiculous death, on his back with his legs waving, in a dark stinking hole with a skull for company. Wiggle, man!
He couldn’t die on himself now. He needed to see his lovely pond again, the pond he had spent his whole life in, the pond he used to think of with so much disdain.
And he never got around to telling that pretty pink thing with those cute tiny claws how much he liked her. What about his dream of building a house of leaves and shells on the east bank of the pond for her and the children they would have together? NO! Come on man! Wiggle!
ONE MORE INCH!!
And what about his biggest dream, to see the river all the ducks and frogs always talked about… Imagine a place where water moved on its own! And so much bigger than the pond! Crab was not going to die without seeing that river, no he wasn’t!! The skull grinned at him in encouragement. Move man!
Sweat trickled down Crab’s insides. His back was raw from the rubbing. His claws were numb with the straining. He seemed to be moving, iota by iota, only by the force of his mind. Then, suddenly, something touched his ass.
Crab didn’t allow himself more than a moment to feel relief and joy. His lower claw grappled with the root and began to maneuver his half-dead body. He didn’t stop to wonder where the strength was coming from; he merely remembered the instant when his feet touched soft earth. And then he was scuttling, out of that dark scary tunnel into the fresh, open world.
He could smell the pond before he saw it, orange in the sunset, his paradise of food and shelter. Sweet, sweet pond! Crab scuttled towards it faster than he had ever scuttled in his life. A fat pig, waddling homeward from her evening bath, stopped to toss him in the air and catch him in her jaws.
Amritorupa Kanjilal also writes at Rivers I Have Known: Books, Reviews, and More. Please visit her there!