Matt Briggs


A frog made frog sounds in the bushes. It kept me awake with its frog sound. The rain on the roof was louder than those frog sounds. The rain tapped a noise I could tune out. Each croak came at random intervals. Random: I could not tune out.

I needed my sleep. My step-grandfather just died at 88 years of age. Mom said October is the death month. My mother is the source of my knowledge. When the frog woke me one morning, I tried to track this statistic down. "Winter is deaths [sic] favorite season," an article claimed. However, the author had forgotten to add the possessive apostrophe for death. A chart from the Alabama Department of Health Statistics showed that winter was indeed death's favorite season. Death rates climbed to a high in March. They fell dramatically in the spring.

I brushed my teeth. I kissed my wife goodnight on her cheek as she, a night owl, worked on something at her desk. I stood near her until she offered up her cheek. I kissed the talcum surface. I slept soundly until dawn. A leave brushed against the house. The frog woke me immediately and I couldn't return to sleep because he she it was in the yard making a racket.

I imagined that I had a frog not in my throat but caught within my looping intestines. The sound of the frog came from a long way off and vibrated through my bowels. I thought of how I could include such an incident in a story; in the story it would be a real thing. A person would have a frog in their intestine, and the frog racket would follow them around, on the street, in their car, at work where they would have to feign an appearance of bafflement along with co-workers. That sound?

The weather turned crisp after the damp warmness of the early autumn. Mold still clung to the leaves. The rain in the gutters cleared the cement and stone of muck. The Jack O' Lanterns on the sidewalks didn't turn grey and collapse. The frog failed to make an appearance at night. I overslept. When I woke I had no sensation in my arms. I stood beside my bed and tried to raise my hands over my head. They wouldn't go.

My mother had a birthday in a month with a slightly greater than average mortality rate: November. In talking to my mother, I told her she was mistaken about October being the death month. It has the second lowest mortality rate besides August. "I never said that," she said. "Why would I speculate on something like that?" My mother had told me so many things because I had asked so many questions. I was glad of it when the frog woke me the next morning. In my dark bed, I listened to the house in the dawn.

Matt Briggs's most recent book, The Strong Man, was published by the Publication Studio in Portland, Oregon. He is the also the author of four collections of short stories, and the novel, Shoot the Buffalo, which was awarded an American Book Award by the Before Columbus Foundation.

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