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It wouldn’t be so bad if he hadn’t read about their care. The author had mentioned, offhand, that it was best to use an empty aquarium. That convinced Joss that the mother Surinam frog must be aware of the matter, and dislike it.

In the worst dreams, she doesn’t have the problem. He can’t see his back, but he knows what’s there: the rough honeycomb shapes, and, waiting, their spadelike little heads.

The walls are smooth. He can’t rub against them. The babies are restless. The mother just sits there, smugly repeating her own taxonomy: “Pipa pipa,” she croaks. “Pipa pipa.”