Field Notes, Installment V
The girl’s first thoughts upon spotting the creature were rather uncharitable.
“What abominable posture that creature has!” she thought, and while she was not wrong, such a judgemental attitude hardly befitted a budding natural historian.
Perhaps the girl could not be blamed too much for her reaction. She had, after all, been brought up to be able to set a formal dining table with books on her head. That particular talent bestowed no virtue in and of itself, of course, but it did tend to make her very observant of all kinds of backbones (or the lack thereof).
When the creature turned cautiously towards her, the girl could hardly blame the beast for its disheartened stance. Everything about the creature reminded her of horseshoes if horseshoes were soft and squishy as jelly. Or life-preservers if all the life had been kicked out of them. Or perhaps travel pillows which are always and forever disappointing. The only thing that didn’t remind her of such things was the creature’s stomach, and that was the worst part. For a moment, the girl just stared. She couldn’t help herself despite being raised to know better than to stare and being able to set the Sunday dinner table with books on her head.
“That explains everything,” thought the girl with a shake of her head, sitting down to quickly sketch, for the creature was so skittish she thought it might waddle away at any moment if she tried to get any closer.
Indeed, it was only because she didn’t approach that the creature remained where it was, skittishly watching her. The girl couldn’t blame it. Any creature with a dotted line running from chin to belly, belly to tail tip would naturally be wary of oncoming traffic of any sort, however pedestrian. After a bit, when the beast seemed well and truly satisfied that the girl was going to remain on her haunches fiddling with paper and pencil, it decided to investigate her. Since the creature was extremely slow and clumsy and did not so much waddle as list dangerously from one side to another and then back again, the girl actually began to feel motion sick as she watched its progress.
All the girl’s best attempts to engage the creature in conversation went flat as a tire, but then, what can one justly expect of a creature with road markings down its front and spur-like spikes down its back? Thus, the beast’s genus and species would have to remain a mystery until the girl encountered a more loquacious specimen. Indeed, she considered it a triumph to have gotten the creature’s name out of it.
“Penelope,” repeated the girl to herself as she put away her sketch book and watched the creature lurch gracelessly from sight, before her stomach demanded she turn her eyes elsewhere. “How very, very unexpected.”