by NF Johnson
I balance the platter with one hand careful not to spill the red juices of the raw beef. The meat hisses and spits to the brand of the cast iron grates. I peer for a moment over the grill and deep verdurous lawn to the water beyond. Two Falls Creek swirls in bubbled eddies over a smooth limestone bed forever imprinted in a riot of prehistoric life. The clean wash of lithe April showers exposes millennium old coiled nautilus and leggy trilobites now reanimated in stone. Lilacs and violets bloom, the air is permeated in Spring.
Two Mallard drakes swoop in a muffled flutter under the sagging blossomed bridge of apple tree branches to splash-land in the sun mottled stream. The annual renewal of life’s essentials flows forth from the Earth. The two dabblers paddle with the current, emerald green heads preen downy feathers into place and tails twitch in anticipation. Downstream a mother duck waddles alone, her mate departed to molt with the boys. Along the muddy bank she wanders like she’s searching for something but can’t remember what or why. The red fox or, maybe it was that pair of marauding raccoons had discovered her clutch a night ago leaving her home a decimation of broken egg shells. She moves now with unknown purpose. The two drakes lightly hop to the grassy shore to greet the distraught mother with necks lowered, one to either side of her. The wasted mother attempts to run but the drakes set on her pecking and winging her down in a feathered fury of squawks, quacks and grunts. The desperate scene is short and harsh as the female is worn to submission and forcibly mounted by both males.
I stab the meat to pull it off as flames flare with intensity in the run of red juices. Life reprised in the time it takes to cook my steak. Rare.
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NF Johnson has lived a life of short stories as a hitchhiker and bartender. He is in the midst of finishing a novel on campus life in the turbulent early seventies. NF currently resides in central Ohio and has worked in several writers groups and workshops. He has no previous publications.