A crayfish in your hand clicks. It makes strong strokes and sounds like a Frankensteined piece of plastic, a living thing whose life surprises you. You have to force your hand to clamp.
The farm creek carried a rot smell of manure that, when I didn’t ignore it, felt like touching an electric fence with my brain. The electricity wasn’t just in the fence. It came at me hard when I lifted the right rock and found a crayfish there. Or when I walked on the bank and splay-legged frogs hit the water. Seeing a living thing in the world felt like you spotted the single star in a blank sky.
I no longer need to put crayfish in a bucket and ride my bike home carrying the bucket full of water and empty the bucket into the kiddie pool. Then, I’d walk out the next morning and watch them there, but I wouldn’t feel that electric shock of finding them curled between stones in the water.
Then they’d boil in the pool. We’d smell the smell of chitinous exoskeletons decomposing, a burning plastic fish smell all through the yard. The electricity in each crayfish body turned off. Like refrigerators, you unplug them and everything inside rots and thickens the air to let you know it.
Every time I carried a bucket back, I knew what was coming.