“With the eyes of a child, you must come out and see that your world’s spinning ‘round, and through life you will be a small part of a hope of a love that exists; in the eyes of a child, you will see.” – John Lodge
My name is Ronald Daye. My family and close friends most often call me Ronny. I have been cursed in a way that is as humiliating as any denigration that could ever be. That witch that lives in the hovel in the wood has done this to me; yes, I call her a witch, though there are more descriptive words I can think of. But I am of the nobler castes, and I restrain myself from thinking such verbiage.
All this because I happened to be hiking along, enjoying the quiet and reveling in the wonders of nature when I inadvertently came upon her, as she knelt in a clearing, uttering nonsense at some insignificant weed.
When she heard me, she turned and hissed, and she pointed her crooked fingers at me. “You will tell no one about me!” she screeched. “Henceforth, your voice will have no meaning except to the fertile females of your kind. You will soon forget who and what you were, and only the kiss of a regal maiden will release you from this imprecation, and only if it happens before you forget!”
And with that, she laughed in the most obnoxious way, she plucked her plant, and she ran off, up the hill and into the shadows. And I, in a painful twisting and distortion of limbs and physique, was left to shrink and gasp, until I emerged out of a mental stupor and found myself encapsulated in this lowly state of being.
Realizing how vulnerable I am in my present condition and in this environ, I must make haste, by leaps and bounds, as it were, to the pond by the manse of our good neighbors, the Fyfendymes. There is any number of predators who would eagerly wrest me from the embrace of the earth now, and I must be apace and ever so cautionary.
Even in the pond, I will have to be wary of men and boys, lest they decide to use me for bait in their fishing endeavors; and I pray there are no sizable snakes in the water. I must continue every effort to remember who I am; otherwise, I could remain in this accursed state forever.
But, really, there is little hope that I could ever be set free under the given conditions; I was never one to elicit the attention of young women, as I was before. How could I ever hope to attract one now?
Most of them prefer the strong and the fearless, who wield their weapons showfully and growl like ursine beasts; whilst I could only show myself to juggle words and fit them into rhymes, brandishing instruments instead, and lofting airs and melodies that emanated from the heart. Oh, I could sing! But you should hear me now.
It helps that I am descending upon an incline; my leaps advance me farther as I go, albeit with a bit of tumbling at times, and the pond is in sight. Oh, but those last long yards…the grass is kept a-trim here, so that people may stroll or lounge in comfort and pleasantry. Those last long yards might yet present my most vincible moments.
I will rest under cover for a while, before I make that final dash. Ugh, it is to be a part of my transformation to have a tongue that works instinctively, seemingly of its own volition; every insect I happen upon causes me to flick and snatch and swallow. It is worrisome that I am becoming comfortably adept at it.
I have positioned myself at what appears to be the shortest distance between the safety of the flowerbeds and the shadows of the rushes; it is difficult to say in conventional terms what that distance might be … perhaps twenty yards.
And, to my right, a fair distance away and in the shade of a stately larch, there appear to be two women with their children, enjoying a picnic and chattering ceaselessly about what I would presume to be things of no importance. I recognize one to be the Lady Adele; and the other, with her back to me, I think, is Dame Francine … both of whom I have regaled with song, on such occasions when the weather kept us all indoors.
I am thinking now that my family will be missing me soon. In any other situation, I have always been able to go to them with my problems. Although my father would have preferred to have seen me as a manlier boy, he nevertheless has never brushed me away. And my mother, of course, could not have been more pleased with her poet son and musician.
But now, they would not recognize me, nor would I have any means of conveying my identity to them. They would probably be repulsed to see their own son; and no doubt, they would toss me from the hearth without any thought.
The Fyfendymes have a frolicsome little girl, and she does not appear to be around. Well, I cannot think about that now. There is a cloud passing overhead, which diminishes the light to some degree, and this is as good a time as any for me to leap to the safety of the pond and into my new life. A fly alights on a leaf of grass, and my tongue darts without hesitation; ugh, I’m glad I do not have to chew those things.
This is taking so long … too long; the stubs of grass are becoming more painful with every landing. And walking, anymore, seems most awkward. I can only hope I will not be seen.
Oh, no! The little girl, Penelope, is approaching from the left! It would seem that she was off playing by herself, apparently making mud pies. She skips and hums mindlessly, golden braids bouncing and freckles glinting in the sun. And now, she is almost upon me!
I lie low, trying to blend in with the grass. She has slowed down and gotten very quiet. Oh, dear God! I think she is stealthily approaching me! I try to jump away, but she has caught me; and now, she has me in her pudgy, muddy, little fingers, and she giggles. Oh, I pray she doesn’t squeeze me in her enthusiasm.
“Hello, froggy!” She … she’s stroking me! Her face looms in front of me, her big round eyes all lit up! “Well … aren’t you a fine looking fellow!”
“Are you kidding!?” Suddenly, I feel self-conscious … I am exposed … and she is muddying me!
“Penelope! Oh, dear Lord, put that hideous creature down!” It’s her mother. Aagh, and that causes Penelope to squeeze!
“Oops, sorry, Mr. Frog. I really didn’t mean to do that. It’s alright, Mummy! It’s just a pretty frog!”
“Oh, but it’s slimy and unclean, child! Throw it in the pond, dear! Now, Penelope!”
“Oh, good grief… I was adequately clean, until she picked me up! But, yes! Do cast me in the pond … ple-ease!”
Her face looms in front of me again; she is looking at me with the eyes and the smile of a child. Her hand is open, and she is letting me just sit on it. This is my chance to escape, but it’s a long way down.
“You’re such a pretty frog … all green and spotty, and your eyes are so big and shiny,” she giggles again, wrinkling her nose.
“Oh, for the love of …” what … what is she doing? There is a moment that lasts but a second or two … and yet, I trace its every instant, as if it lasts a lifetime … she puckers and she kisses me!
I hear her mother’s cries (No, Penelope!), muffled and distant … and I hear Penelope cry out in horror…and I sense myself flying through the air and squirming in the throes of transformation again. And then, darkness engulfs me.
When I open my eyes, I see the faces of Prince Fyfendyme and Lord Woolenback hovering over me. They’ve covered me with a linen. The women and the children, of course, are nowhere in sight.
Prince Fyfendyme strokes his beard, appearing astonished and thoughtful at the same time. “Ronny Daye! Good heavens, lad, whatever has happened to you!?”
I am weak, and my muscles ache all over; but I have my voice again, “Oh, praise God! Where do I begin, sir, wherever do I begin? There…there is a witch in the wood …”