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Dead of Minnesota winter, and my sister finds an iguana in a snowbank. Thing’s frozen solid. We put it in a pillowcase, and the tail sticks out the top, and then we bike all the way out to Moorhead and keep hitting these ice chunks. The iguana goes flying. We have to collect it all over again.
When we get to campus, we find the biology department. Some woman’s there. She looks younger than you’d think, and she takes the thing into this back office, and I imagine she’s got a microscope. A scalpel. My sister’s sitting on a bench in the hallway, leaning against a glass case, and there’s plants in there or something. Fungus. It all looks fake or calcified or I don’t know what, and when the woman comes back out she says it’s real. What do you mean? I say, and she says, The iguana, and it’s clinical. All fucking business. We look at her like she’s got four heads because of course it’s real, and we can tell dead from plastic, and then she tells us it was a girl. Female, she says. Just laid eggs. I don’t know how she knows that. Don’t ask neither. It’s only later I think like maybe she’s fucking with us, and maybe she isn’t even a biologist, or at least not a very good one anyway, but my sister, she’s never been happier. Spends the whole ride back smiling off into space, and we leave the iguana there, and I get phone calls. Years later. Mom and Dad die, and we sell the farm, and she puts a rider on the purchase agreement that says anybody finds an iguana anywhere on the property it’s got to be reported to this email she sets up just solely for that specific purpose, and the buyers, they find this whole thing charming if you can believe it. They let her onto the property whenever she’s in town, two, three times a year, and I’ve only been with her the once, but there she is, digging in the dirt. Got binoculars. Looks real serious. Brings a camera and documents every search, year by year and visit by visit, and she says how iguanas are adaptable and invasive and communicative, and I try to tell her about pet stores and practical jokes, but she sticks with it firm. Thorough. On her knees and combing the ground and telling anyone who’ll listen oh, they’re there alright. All you have to do is keep your eyes on the road.
Brett Biebel teaches writing and literature at Augustana College in Rock Island, IL. His (mostly very) short fiction has appeared in Hobart, SmokeLong Quarterly, The Masters Review, Wigleaf, and elsewhere. It's also been chosen for Best Small Fictions and as part of Wigleaf's annual Top 50 Very Short Stories. 48 Blitz, his debut story collection, is available from Split/Lip Press.