written by Mary Jacob, 4 February 2013, based on words provided by Tommy Baker
She gathered her courage and approached the cage with trepidation. She’d only been helping look after this menagerie for about a week, and she was still quite nervous with some of its denizens. This one was called an iguana but she couldn’t help but think of it as a miniature dragon. It was all green with a tail longer than its body, and lots of pointy bits all over.
She lifted up the wire mesh tentatively and threw in a handful of dandelion greens and dahlia blossoms. Ignatius rolled his eyes, still clinging, motionless, to his branch, and then darted out to grab a mouthful of flowers. His eyes were so complex! Layers of folds in every possible shade of green, all luminescent, and two eyelids for each eye. It was hypnotic just to look at him. He doesn’t seem that mean, she thought, just a bit skittish. She probably would be, too, if she were cooped up like this.
She filled his water bowl and refastened the lid, then moved on to the next enclosure, a pair of hamsters. They were infested with ear mites and needed to have drops put in. She picked up their pudgy little bodies one at a time, and gazed into their obsidian eyes as she administered the drops. They looked all around, as if uncomprehending, so different from Ignatius, who seemed to know everything.
She went back to Iggy’s cage, reached in and let her fingers run over his scales. This time, he eased forward and slithered under her touch. He looked straight at her and blinked, slowly.
Against all odds, she was beginning to like him. She lingered for a bit, and then began to sweep the dust and tidy up the animal room. For some reason, she was reluctant to leave work that day.