The Frogs by Eleanor Levine

My brothers call me “Sister Big Tits,” though I’ve never had big tits. It is their invulnerability in not having tits that leads them to this conclusion; our parents never taught us how to regard one another’s genitalia—we were not given lessons in discussing such matters from a more scientific perspective. Either way, I always feel like they are raining insults on me as if we are in an airport with an open ceiling and millions of frogs are falling through—green, slimy beings hopping in the rain.

A storm can bring acerbic, reptilian beasts who grope you. Bite you. Jump on your clothes. They can make you muddy and dirty and give you frog bites and cause you to smell like swamp. But suddenly, and without remorse, a slew of birds, thousands of birds, can swoop upon the green beasts and eat them like a delicious meal from Hardees or a Chinese banquet in a suburban North Carolina restaurant where the owners use purple and green food coloring. Yum and done and into the gastrointestinal tract. The birds munch, muse and depart, leaving dead frog body parts, which symbolize your discomfort with each other.

This sibling airport, where thoughts travel in and out, is comparable to most sibling situations, in that we sweep into each other’s lives using negative terms like the “c” or “f” word.

I call my brother “faggot,” which was derived from crucifying gay people back in Roman times. “Faggot” means wood and the queers would be tied up with wood and burned. Similarly, I tell my AA sponsor that “cunt” is the worst word you can use for women, unless you are a Scottish fiction writer.


I see my brothers in the people I work with. Their words are less vulgar, but the innuendos and thoughts are the same.

The office newbies expect you to stay late (though your boss says you can leave when you want); it is, however, the client, the “real boss,” who dictates your paycheck.

Indeed, in my office, which is the world of nuclear physics advertising—an industry that Albert Einstein would have regarded as a toilet paper dispensary—there is no exit. There is just the constant flow of work in your mind and eyes until you are so tired you cannot exercise. You go to sleep and start again the next day.


Recently, a dilettante and her boss humiliated me in a Teams channel when the discussion came to my departure time—as if they were the ones who should decide such a matter.

“Cassandra, we will have the job ready for you at 6 pm,” she said. And until then you have nothing to do but wait like you are in a doctor’s office breathing medicated air.

“I leave at 5:30,” I tell them. The precocious traffic manager is in her mid-twenties but looks sixteen. She watches prequels before a TV series—even though the prequel came after it. She likes to do things in order, you know, like Nazi concentration camp female guards in post-Holocaust documentaries. The “Frown-lines,” I call them. Their depressing grins would have made a great cover for a Smiths record.

The “Nazi Frau” project manager insists I stay late.

I don’t want to offend her or jar any lines of respectability. She could truly be them or their or it. The pronouns have exploded faster than civil rights in the 1960s. It’s like a union that is a mutant strain of pseudo intellectualism that has taken over the English language. It’s also like that movie where the non-personality types take over the humans who have personalities.

Though the young lackey and her boss are both confident and insistent, they don’t realize I have spent millions of hours beyond their pay scale working on these projects.

She means well. He means well. He mentors “her” so they can extol the virtues of “they.”


While they decide my destiny, I work on a mind-slugging fact check—trying to amputate the piece from its state of utter confusion. For the past few hours, I have been ambling through missing data like a piranha consuming uncooked eggs. I have found -39 matching facts with their references.

“Do you have an ETA, Cassandra, for completing the fact check?” the newbie asks.

It’s like asking Einstein when we will have nuclear war, even though he is still proving that E = mc².


I will forever be “Sister Big Tits” whether it is at work or in my house where my youngest brother asks me to dinner.

I do not give him an answer.


I let it ride like we are in the client foxhole.

“I’ve told our other brothers you don’t act like familyyou don’t exude love,” my live-in sibling says. Minutes before he tells me that his “dog’s penis is large,” as if I’m supposed to expect this to be the pinnacle of our conversation.

“You don’t act like Mommy,” he says. They used to live together. It was utopian until she called the police.

“I don’t think you ever asked Mommy her tit size or discussed your dog’s penis,” I reply. He does not care. Respect is like a bird that kills frogs. He has frog ovaries on his polo shirt.

“You don’t know how to be in a family,” he says to me because I normally retire to my room and watch Netflix.

Eventually we go for Thai food and rejoice in our proclaimed alignment.

When we get home, my brother and I sleep all day in the comfort of our separate bedrooms, knowing that when it is Monday, we will have an ETA, with the impending destiny of our client’s deadline, and the frogs to smother us. But no frogs or birds or project managers come. We are still sleeping, which is our destiny, while Meatloaf’s “Bat Out of Hell” plays through my headphones.



Eleanor Levine‘s writing has appeared in more than 120 publications, including Fiction, Gertrude, Midway Journal, the South Dakota Review, The Hollins Critic, the Raleigh Review, the Notre Dame Review, and pacificREVIEW: A West Coast Arts Review Annual. Her poetry collection, Waitress at the Red Moon Pizzeria, was published by Unsolicited Press. Her short story collection, Kissing a Tree Surgeon, was published by Guernica Editions.