An Artificial Habitat
A lonesome brown toad looked out longingly at an overcast morning sky, its gloom saturated by the green tint of algae on his glass walls. Casually glancing at the bare rock where freeze-dried crickets usually lay waiting, Thomas tilted back his yellow leaf hat and spoke to a nearby clay pot.
“It’s as if the day is mocking us. The weather is as gloomy as our home.”
As if becoming animate, a voice from inside the pot responded, “That’s all well and good.” Then out emerged another brown toad, a rather portly fellow. “But I’d rather be here than hibernating in some mud pit, scavenging for food.”
“That’s very respectable of you, Mr. Hubert" jested Thomas, as he chuckled to himself. "Its clear that you consider yourself to be a gentleman.”
Mr. Hubert huffed back indignantly. He had been purchased from a certain Hubert’s Pet Store in the city, which is where he earned his name. Whereas Thomas, well, Thomas wasn’t really sure where he came from.
Ennobled by his pedigree, Mr. Hubert never found it proper to discuss Thomas’ questionable parentage. In fact, this topical avoidance naturally led to a lifestyle of general silence, which suited Mr. Hubert’s insistent napping schedule just fine.
Being left to his own devices, Thomas read as aggressively as Mr. Hubert napped, a habit that was facilitated by his terrarium's perched view of open books. You could say that Thomas had been well educated over the years (that is, for a toad) with an eclectic yet routine consumption of poetry and encyclopedia entries. And all of this had fueled in him an incurable case of wanderlust, an itch that simply could not be scratched in his present circumstance.
“Nothing left to be desired at all then?” he poked.
“Just breakfast. I’m cold-blooded, kid,” replied his dreary companion, moving only to adjust his black bowler cap.
"Mr. Hubert!” Thomas replied teasingly, finding respite from the monotony. “Such musings do not usually precede your morning refreshments.”
Then, almost as if it were responsive to the growling of Mr. Hubert’s stomach, the black grill ceiling of the terrarium was lifted, and several helpings of freeze-dried crickets were dropped on the rocks.
Mr. Hubert stirred.
But upon this particular delivery, something extraordinary happened—or, rather, didn’t happen.
The black grill ceiling of Thomas and Mr. Hubert’s enclosure did not close. In fact, it was left completely open. And so was the window by their confinement!
Thomas paused, appreciating the serendipity of the moment.
For so long, this terrarium toad had yearned to experience the wide world outside his artificial habitat.
And now his time had come.
Climbing out of his glass enclosure, Thomas hopped to the sill. He gazed out the open window with fresh eyes, taking in the sights and sounds of the nearby bog. He keenly watched as lively young turtles surfaced and made their way to muddy banks in search of the morning sun.
Interrupting this amusement was the distant sound of an automobile approaching. Thomas' attention turned to the road which ran beyond the bog, anticipating this new sight. By the changing pitch he could perceive that it was indeed approaching fast, when suddenly the lone vehicle whooshed by at an impressive speed.
Thomas’s gaze traced the automobile’s pathway until it was no longer visible. Then his sights turned back to the present landscape before him.
Beyond that highway of men, a sea of long grass and wildflowers met the horizon, where the sun was just now peaking out from behind the clouds. These utopian meadows beckoned to his most basic toad sensibilities.