27 May 2009

The Frog Prince

For the first hundred years at the bottom of the well, the frog prince rehearsed his memoir. It went like this: He was born into a sweet life of silks and pastries. The one day this humpbacked hag of a peasant came to plead her case before the king. What did she want? Something trivial. When the hag didn't get what she wanted, she cursed the king's eldest son. Him. The hero of the story. The poor prince had done nothing to deserve this wretched fate, cast down into the lowest, dampest, darkest place in the kingdom, with the kiss from a princess his only hope of becoming human again.

Waiting for the princess to transform him, he had plenty of time to think. And just to be. His days went back like this. Breathe in. Breathe out. Day after year after decade, no princess came to the well.

In time he ceased to repeat his story and only sat with his eyes at the waterline. Breathe in. Breathe out. It was enough to be a frog, to eat what crawled at the bottom of the well. To breathe in. To breathe out. To think of youth, and old age and suffering.

But when the golden ball splashed into the water in front of him and the princess began to weep at the lip of the well, her sobbing touched his heart. He knew that returning her treasure would be a small gesture. She would lose many more things in life, and seldom any as easy to recover as a golden ball. He knew, too, that even if she did kiss him, he would be only a prince. When he emerged from the well, she would be repulsed by him at first, then adore him, and perhaps be repulsed by him again years from now. And he by her, perhaps.

Breathe in. Breathe out. He was content, and he might have remained a frog forever. But the story is still told to this day because he took the golden ball in his mouth and climbed toward the light and the weeping.

[Bruce Rogers]

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