The Tiger

Friday, 16 September 2016

IN. Eeny meeny miny moe catch a tiger by the toe if she hollers let her go eeny meeny miny moe. Gasp. Ena mena mona mite bascalora bora bite hugga bucca bow wow eggs butter cheese bread stick stock stone dead. OUT. Think of swimming think of water think of bread. Brown bread. Think of the tiger.

The tiger is watching me. She always watches me. She watches me swim in the lake with no fish in, which is how I know that I am the target. I am always the target.

Eeenie meenie tipsy toe olla bolla domino.

I am the target because I can’t remember how to breathe underwater. The tiger remembers this every time, and she circles the lake in smooth anticipation.

Eeenie meenie moany mite butter lather boney strike.

When she pounces she pushes me down, further down into the water. My hands try and hold on to the bubbles they create but I know they'll burst before they do. I'm destined to sink and I sink every time.

Stick stock stone dead out.

Think of grass think of sunburn think of smiling. The water roars around me as I plunge further and further into it. My feet scramble when they find the sandy lake-base below but the tiger still pushes my head down. My knees buckle and then that’s it. I'm crouching at the lowest point with my toes dug into the sand and my palms pressing into the lake’s base like they’re trying to force it open. I never think I can get any lower. But I always know that the tiger is not finished.

Eeenie meenie moany mote butter lather boney strike hair bit frost nack harrico barrico we wo crack.

The paws about my neck confirm that I’m drowning. The tiger knows I forget to breathe here but she wants to hurry the process along a little.

We wo crack.

I lie against the lake-base with the weight of two dry or one sodden tiger on top of me.

We wo crack.

It doesn't matter anymore that I forget how to breathe. The sand beneath me keeps forgetting its shape.

We wo crack.

A tiger’s eye looks down at me with my head burying itself into the sand. I hate to look at it but I have to. I have to work out which are her arms and which are her legs.

Eeny meeny miny moe catch a tiger by the toe.

The sand rolls in around my eyes as I sink further into it. My eyelids droop. Perhaps I do just want to blend into the lake and forget about how different the water felt when I was simply lingering on its surface. How different it felt as it silently slipped through my fingers when I swam across it. How different compared to how loud it seemed when it churned past my body as I plunged through it. Thinking only of terror.

I lift a dead-waited arm and snatch up a paw. The tiger’s eyes spark with alarm; they reflect the dead panic of my own.

If she hollers let her go eeny meeny miny moe.

A weight lifts from me as the tiger releases me from her grip. I watch her back legs as she kicks her way up to the surface, becoming smaller and smaller until she fades into a series of stripes that could easily be mistaken for a chain of ripples.

It's over and all that the tiger has left is the shuddering water that surrounds me.  

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