V. Some Friend

by Jennifer Weatherly
[this is the fifth in the six part series–
read Nature Always Finds a Way Through from the beginning, here]

I decided to make friends with the lizard who kept skittering back and forth across the kitchen in my apartment. It had taken so long to get him to trust me, I thought I might as well try. Even so, when we finally spoke, he told me I had his name wrong.

You’re saying it like a plebeian, he said. It’s Henri, not Henry.

Oh, I said. I’m sorry. Or, I guess, je suis desolée.

It’s fine, he sighed, before adding, Also, I’m a skink. Not a lizard. There’s a big difference.

Really? I asked. I didn’t clarify which part I was surprised by. Probably because it was all of it.

You know, you could learn something from that, he said. You humans are obsessed with the wrong kinds of names. You want nothing to do with specificity.

What? I said. What do you mean, wrong kinds? We over-specify everything. We apply in equal measure bullshit terminology and Latin titles. What about that is not specific?

The lizard-now-skink, Henri, sat up and folded his tiny arms. That’s not specificity, friend. Surely you know that. You know a great deal, actually, save for your own name and occupation. What do you want to be called? he asked. How will you use your brief time on this small patch of earth you’ve been granted?

His time, I realized, was so much briefer than my own. My heart sank as I noticed the crepey patches on his elbows. Or whatever elbows were called on a skink. No wonder he took this so greatly to heart.

I guess, I said, it’s to be determined.

Yes, that’s all well and good, said Henri, but when?

And suddenly now seemed to mean a great deal more than I’d ever imagined.


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