Friday, November 2, 2012


Scorpion and Frog had earned their nicknames in ways that were fairly average among people from their neighborhood. Everyone got an animal nickname around the age of five, and then it stuck for the rest of their life unless something overwhelmingly better came up after a major change in their life. Wolf, for instance, had been Wolverine until she left for a month and came back a lot less likely to pick fights and a lot friendlier. She made a pack with Rat, Deer, and Frog within the week, and they'd been nigh-inseparable since.

Scorpion had hitched a ride with Frog on Frog's boat, because Scorpion's kept developing holes. She claimed not to know why, though Frog suspected she drilled them in herself. Frog had, in fact, just accused Scorpion of as much.

Scorpion went quiet. She had always been quiet--scorpions didn't hiss or growl, just struck--but her silence was exceptionally loud this time. "I don't mean to," she said.

"How can you not mean to?"

Scorpion shrugged. "I...destroy things." Her expression flickered through a few unidentifiable emotions. "Mess things up. 'It's in my nature,'" she said, though Frog didn't know whom Scorpion could be quoting. "S'why I bring my toolkit with me everywhere."

"Well, just so long as you don't do anything to my boat." Frog smiled, turning away from the wheel for a moment. "Not that you would now;" she laughed, "you'd sink along with me."

"Yeah." Scorpion smiled sadly as she tapped Frog's shoulder with a piece of wood. "Pretty stupid."

Frog looked confused for a moment before she recognized the rudder. She spun the wheel and found none of the resistance there'd been when they started the trip. "The current's fine here, but it'll take us out to open ocean without any steering--" She turned back to Scorpion and said, halfway between upset and baffled, "How could you do that?"

"I play tricks. I steal stuff. It's all I'm good at, but I'm the best at it." The smile grew, though it stayed out of her eyes. "Wolf learned, when we were off alone together. It's how she learned to have friends to help her. She told you, remember?" Frog remembered, though she'd dismissed it as unreasonable animosity until that moment.

They repeated, together, " 'It's in her nature.'"

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