river of grass

In the Everglades, Mama Gators keep watch in mud-colored water. Their eyes rise like periscopes, checking us out as we bump along in our airboat.

The motor rumbles like hornets, but I block it out, stuffing a pair of neon-green plugs in my ears.

"You look like Shrek," the captain says.

We spin circles and splash. When the motor finally cuts off, a flock of wood storks arc above the sawgrass. Their silent wings fold like origami. No sound except my breath. I look down. Cartoon blue skies reflect in water so still, I could walk on it.

I'm taking notes for another novel. Soon I'll be hitting the road, talking to bookstores and schools about TCO. Taking pictures with my eyes. Writing in my head.

At night, I dream about new characters. It's like greeting old friends for the first time.

I can't wait to meet them.