By Barbara Eustace
I try to stay out the way, because she does nag so. Nag, nag, nag. Take just now for example. “Where have you been lately?”, she shouts at me. The truth is, I’ve been plotting. You see, I have a problem. Let me explain.
One day, there I was minding my own business when this broad came down to the pond that I thought of as home. Refined little piece, if you like that sort of thing. Pink, rounded in all the right places and well dressed. I’d had a heavy lunch – too many flies, you know how it is – and was feeling rather dozy. So when she made a grab for me, I didn’t react quite as fast as I normally would. But who would have thought a young woman, let alone a princess, would have tried to catch a frog?
“Are you Fwedewick?” she demanded. Hah, trust me to get one with a speech impediment.
“Not me!” I replied hastily, and there was my mistake. I should have kept quiet.
“Wait a minute,” I can hear you say, “frogs can’t talk.” Normally I’d agree with you. Let me explain further.
It was a couple of weeks ago when I first encountered the old woman. She came down to our pond with a young man in tow. Handsome he was, though a bit on the gormless side. The old witch muttered some words, and “Pouff!”, suddenly this guy was a frog. I ask you! And she was expecting him to share my space. I must admit the look was a great improvement though. I’m not sure he saw it in the same way.
He looked at me in surprise, said “Ribbit”, his only words as a frog, before jumping into the pond. And drowning. Not having done the whole spawn, tadpole thing, he was a lousy swimmer and when he jumped in, he sank straight to the bottom. You don’t seem to realise that you need to start young to develop these skills. Why do you think tadpoles have gills? So they don’t drown. As a frog, you have to do breaststroke, you know, the legs together, up to your bum and kick. This guy was trying to do front crawl with a frogs anatomy. It was never going to work.
The old lady was not too pleased. “Oh bugger”, she said, her dastardly plan thwarted. Then she turned her attention to me, grinned, and “Pouff!”, I had the power of speech. And reason. But I was still a frog.
Seems the princess had offended the old woman, so she was cursed to marry a frog who would turn into a prince when true love overcame all. Ah, don’t you just love a happy ending? But as I was the one given the power of speech, the only frog in the pond who could speak, I’m the one she thought must be her prince.
But I’m not a prince. I’m just a frog. Her prince is at this moment providing sustenance to one and all at the bottom of that pond. I might have been given the power of speech, but I have not been changed from a man, so I doubt that the puckering of lips is going to change me into anything other than a kissed frog.
So why don’t I make the most of it, I hear you ask. Because I don’t want this royal life. I don’t want to eat peacock, or caviar, or roast hog. I don’t want to drink the best champagne. And I certainly don’t want to have hot baths or dress in fine clothes. I may have the power of speech and reason, but my wants and needs are still very much for froggy things. I want lots of juicy fat flies. I want to sit in a cool pond out of the way of the hot sun, and I want to be able to shit in my pond and not feel bad about it. As for the ladies, all I want is someone slippery with a good pair of legs who I can grab round the waist and hope that we can coordinate our emissions, so to speak. No amount of kissing and cuddling is going to make me into anything other than a frog, albeit a talking one.
So yes, sometimes I like to go down to the pond, my pond, to look at what might have been. Not that I can go unnoticed though. She’s had a gold crown taped to my head so that I don’t get lost. Her beloved, and she can’t even differentiate me from the other frogs. And with this crown taped to my head, I daren’t even go for a little swim. The crown’s so heavy, being made of gold, that if I were to jump in, I’d probably follow that prince of hers down to the bottom. But still I like to look.
Today when I sneaked down, I found this guy saying hello to all the frogs. Strange, I thought. I hid myself for a while watching him, before asking “Are you looking for me?” The young man looked rather taken aback at first, but then grinned.
“Are you a frog?” he asked excitedly.
“What if I am?” I replied, still in hiding. “Who wants to know?”
Turns out he’s the grandson of the old woman who gave me the power of speech in the first place, and she’d told him all about it. He came to see if it was true. Was there even now a frog being feted as a prince, he wondered. I showed myself, with my gold crown taped to my head and he thought it was hilarious. He fell to the ground, laughing heartily. All very well for him. But then I got to thinking.
My princess had hoped to marry a frog and with a kiss turn him into a prince. So I looked at the young man. Strapping specimen he was. Just the sort of lusty cove a princess might like to find in her bed following her wedding night, I thought. So, I said, how would his grandmother like it if he were to take the princes place? The part that comes after the magic kiss, that is. The young man paused, thought for a while and then slowly a grin spread across his face.
And so we talked. And we plotted. And now we came to an understanding. Following the wedding, the princess takes her loving frog – that’s me – to her bed, and in the night, this young man creeps in and takes my place in the marriage bed, pretending to have amnesia as far as his previous mortal life is concerned. He gets fine clothes, good food and a princess to shag, his grandmother gets her revenge, the princess thinks she’s got a prince. And me, I get to go back to my beloved pond, where I belong.