Hour of the Lizard Man
All these Saturdays when the sun is so hot and bright and every hour is
like a merciless shining, just bright and bright and bright and inside
there's nothing for me to do but wait out the heat, wait through my
nap. I don't like all that big quiet space, everything so blinding and
still. Except for outside: the slow hum of mourning doves cooing and
that shadow, narrow as a wire sliver cutting across the blinds.
Nothing can sleep in all that sweltering, shining heat, nothing outside
can be living… except for the lizard man. He comes if you're
not taking your nap like you're supposed to. He walks by the window,
and it's so bright you can see his silhouette on the wall, on the mini
Everyone is asleep and it's so hot and you're alone there with that
heavy heat pressing on you and the silence pressing on you, and that
shadow cutting across the room so quick and darting. It's the lizard
man hunting. You're sweating and sweating and you know if you were
asleep he wouldn't find you, but it's the idea of it, the idea that if
you shut your eyes he'll creep into the room to look at you. And then
you can't sleep, you can only try hard to shut your eyes and hope that
he will be tricked, even though you know in your heart he won't, that
you'll breathe wrong and he'll know, and you'll know, and just as you
open your eyes he's leaping down with his mouth open—red and
full of sharp little teeth. Only everyone else in the world is
exhausted by the heat and languid and asleep. And nobody will hear you,
and it's too hot to scream anyway.
It wasn't so bad when Gonzy was there with me. It wasn't so bad
then. But he's dead now and my dad is gone and it's so
deathly bright outside.
Even now, even though I'm grown and all that's bullshit, that part of
the afternoon is still the hunting time. When the sun is in its zenith
and the heat is like a piece of hot wool wrapping itself around me,
that's the hour for the lizard man to creep by. Everything is so still
and drowsy and bright, so bright I turn my face away and hide it in my
arms, and the awful sunlight presses bright and orange on the backs of
my eyelids, and the terror hammers inside me: Let him think I'm
sleeping! Let him think I'm sleeping!
Marcela Fuentes has work in or coming from Indiana Review, Blackbird, Norton's FLASH FICTION
INTERNATIONAL and others.
Detail of photo on main page courtesy
of Michael Gundling.
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