The Frog Prince
When I wrote this story in December 2005, I had pet frogs. I was freezing, huddled under blankets, and eying the thermometer in their terrarium, which was about 80°. I wished that I could crawl in there with them. It made me think about how different their lives were from mine, and this story was born.
Unfortunately, I had to sell the frogs when Max and Lulu came to live with me. Lulu was too interested in them, and I was afraid she was going to eat one.
It seems that not a day goes by without somebody asking me what it is like to be a frog. What a foolish question! Better to ask, in my mind, what it is like to be a human.
Life as a frog is simple. The world is divided into two categories, things that move and things that don’t. Things that don’t move are for hiding in. Things that do, well, you run from those that are bigger than you, eat things that are smaller, and try to mate with those that are the same size. That is what life is like as a frog. I do not know if I knew what it was to be happy before Brigitte came into my life, but looking back, I think that I was.
Brigitte’s palace sits on the shores of a small lake. Water from that lake is drawn up into an ornamental fountain. Water lilies were planted, and fish, imported from far-off China called it home. This is where she and I first met.
She came at sundown nearly every day, when the shadows from her manor and the tall trees were beginning to stretch across the fountain. She would carefully sit on the edge, and perhaps spread a few crumbs for the Chinese fish to eat. My kin and I would hide among the lilies, watching both her and the fish warily. Oftentimes, she would toss a gold ball up in the air and catch it again, though her interest seemed to lay more in the fountain itself.
One day, while she was playing with her gold ball, it slipped, and landed in the fountain, scaring the fish off. I watched the ball float slowly to the bottom, the way it glowed, the way it moved, it was so enticing! I sprang for it, catching the ball in my mouth. Suddenly, I could not move. The ball seemed to pull me up to the surface, where I could do nothing but float. She scooped me out of the water, and took the golden ball from me. She spoke, but I could not understand her at that time any more than she could no the meanings of the songs of my kin. Still paralyzed, she raised me to her mouth; surely she was going to eat me! But instead she simply touched me with her lips, and set me gently on the ground.
It was then that I transformed into the shape I wear now. Brigitte introduced herself, and said that I was Prince Wilhelm, who had been turned to a frog by an evil sorceress, and she had released me from her spell. My older brother, Ulrich, ruled my kingdom now, but if I wed her, I would sit on the throne of hers. So confused I was at this time, that I could not help but believe her. And so we were wed.
They tell me that I am wealthy, that I have power. They say that Brigitte is beautiful, and I have come to recognize that as humans judge things, she is so. But it is she who runs the kingdom, it is she who has the power. I spend my days wandering the palace, lost and lonely.
The more time I have spent since meeting Brigitte, the more I question her story. Were I truly born human, why do I remember being a tadpole, and not a child? Why do I long for the relative safety of the water? The fountain is know too small for me to enjoy, and ever I try to head to the lake, Brigitte’s servants will herd me away, however gently. I feel as though I have been deprived of all joy that has ever graced my life. As time wears on, the only thing that I remain completely convinced about is that an evil sorceress changed me from the form of my birth. I have taken to sitting at the edge of the fountain, where Brigitte once sat, watching the water for my kin. I miss my home.