Trina, Wendy and I are headed to Trina’s mom’s for the weekend. Trina calls her and she gives the answers they rehearsed.
Trina: “Oh man, I can’t believe finals.”
Trina’s mom: “Hera sees all.”
Trina: “Yeah, and I have to store my stuff ’til Fall.”
Trina’s mom: “Wisdom of Zeus, blind love will fall.”
Trina: “Okay, see you soon.”
We set out, three of us, each in relationships with people not there. We are walking along the lake to Lake Forest. It’s a foot path where Lake Shore Drive should be, and it’s rubberized. It feels so good under our feet that we begin to jog. It’s slightly downhill at this point, which is lovely. We run faster and faster, then Trina sees the alligator. “Shh!” she says, and “Slowly!”
But Wendy is too far ahead. She’s passed it. Trina calls, “You’ve got to get back up here. You’ve got to get around it and get back here.”
Wendy feels paralyzed. “Is it bad?”
“It’s the biggest one I’ve seen,” answers Trina. “It’s not the little ones people keep in their purse. It has no sense of humor.”
The gator snaps its jaws. I realize it could live anywhere, could follow us all the way up that rising road, but it’s not as likely past a certain point. God, I’m tired. We were having such a good time, talking about our relationships, and this happens. I can see the gator’s face under the rocks.
Wendy inches her way back. She skirts the edge of the road, where she could easily fall into the lake, but anything to stay away from this humorless alligator. She is terrified, but Trina pulls her back with sheer lung power, coaching her though every step, telling her to step quietly, move quickly, not look down. I can’t believe gators live here all the time and people still walk this road.
Trina is going to have her mom come pick us up. Trembling, Wendy makes it into our arms. We hug briefly, and with shaking knees walk back toward the school. The gator does not follow.