She nearly stepped on the skeleton of a goose partially covered by scattered leaves. Not far away her St. Bernards had long since been reduced to the very things they would have once dug for, panting with excitement as they sprayed loose dirt everywhere. Across the way the pond was for sale, and she hoped the new owner would not fill it in, displacing the snapping turtles she loved despite their tendency to snatch young waterfowl from the gently rippling surface. Her father had once killed one of the reptiles and hung it by its front claws inside the smokehouse to surprise anyone who opened the door. With her mother gone she felt like she was being dragged under herself, that some horny beak had clamped down on her leg and was pulling her down as she struggled and watched the necklace of bubbles undulate upwards from her nostrils.
She nudged the goose’s bill with the toe of her sneaker, plucked a yellow leaf from its eye socket. Marveled at the bones of its long neck. She wondered if she’d be able to wriggle free, or if she’d find a way to breathe underwater, find a way to survive in the darkness and the mud. Maybe the thing gripping her would not devour her after all but raise her as its own, teach her the ways of the sediment dweller, instruct her how to lie in wait before rising silently to the surface toward the floating leaves, toward the webbed feet paddling far above.