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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Hope (05/04/06)

TITLE: Polliwog
By Mary Reed



I woke up to the word, polliwog, and was quite puzzled by it. “ Polliwog”, I said the word out loud many times. Its sound made me giggle. Wasn’t that a frog in its beginning stages? I went to looked it up, sure, I had never used the word before. As I searched I began to ponder why that word would come to my mind, it came to me. I was a little girl, a polliwog myself, about the age of eight.

My brother, Paul, had caught a second-stage-tadpole and penned it up in our swimming pool that was waiting for a good cleaning before refilling. Algae clung to the sides of the pool; and off to one side hemmed in by a shallow puddle, lay a strange creature. It was unlike the little squiggly tadpoles I watched in the ditch on the corner.

“It’s going to grow legs and look like a lizard” Paul , senior to me by four years, said to me and my little brother, Fred as we looked at something, resembling a dart with one fin, laying motionless. Fred and I would often go out to the plastic prison to check for progress of the frog-to-be.

“It’s starting to form legs, there,” Fred whispered in great excitement; as he pointed stubs out to me, as two small heads peered over a wrinkled mass of green and plastic.

I had forgotten about Paul’s experiment and hadn’t checked on it for a couple of days when he came to me yelling, “Why did you let it go?” pointing out to the pool.

“I didn’t”, I protested, as he glared down at me. “It must have walked away.” “It had started to form legs just the other day when I looked,” I said.

He continued protesting and ranting at me. “They don’t form that fast; and it couldn’t just walk away, you let it out,” he yelled. “I shouldn’t have let you and Fred see it; if I hadn’t, it would still be there,” he continued.

“What’s the big deal, it was going to get away sooner or later; when it turned into a frog and jumped out, wasn’t it?” I said. “What were you going to do with it anyway?” I continued but got no response. The silence spoke much more than any words.

In that same pool, Paul had challenged Fred and me to hold our heads under water to see who could stay under the longest. I could still remember the way it felt to have his big hands grab tight around the back of my neck, holding me under, not sure if I would live or die. In fear, I blew out most of the air in my lungs immediately. After what seemed a long time of struggling, he let me up. After sputtering, gasping for breath I looked frantically for little Fred who was crying.

Often I would bear hits for him and the other siblings in a family of seven kids, trying to save them from Paul’s wrath.

“I’m telling!” “You are so mean!” I yelled hysterically.

"Go ahead, they won't believe you anyway", he said with a toothy grin like a mad dog.

He was right! Unlike that prisoner in that pool, I would not escape him!

Why had the word, polliwog, come to me from out of the blue over forty years later? I had forgotten and forgiven these things until the word catapulted me to somewhere I knew better than go-the past! We never called the in-between-frog a polliwog either. Paul had died Feb. 12, 1998 and; although distant, I had prayed for him and hoped that he had made it to heaven.

Later that day I went to pick up the elderly lady I worked for. Frogs hollered around their pond, which I usually ignored, as if to say don't look away today. It sounded like there were a million, there, screaming almost, ahough I could not see one. My eyes bulged as I looked to see what all the racket was about. Was Paul talking to me from heaven?

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Member Comments
Member Date
Melanie Kerr 05/12/06
You certainly caught my interest and I learned something about polliwogs. Your use of dialogue was good. I didn't see the connection to the topic "Hope" though.
Debbie OConnor05/12/06
Your title was great, I had to see what a polliwog has to do with "hope."

You had a few different scenes that were all individually interesting. I liked the scene with the brother at the pool and later the competition to hold their breath was well told. Your dialogue was natural.

I thought it unlikely an 8 year old would wake up to the word polliwog and connect it to her youth, though. That seems more of an adult manner of thinking.

I hope that helps. I see potential here and want to encourage you. Blessings.
Maxx .05/13/06
Writing is very good. I think the story could have been smoothed between the scenes a bit better so that there was one cohesive strand flowing through. But you were able to capture and communicate the emotions of the character well.
Helen Paynter05/15/06
Interesting story. I particularly enjoyed the first half. I think the confusion about the age of the person doing the remembering could be avoided by taking the last sentence of the first paragraph and tacking it onto the next paragraph. I didn't quite get the ending, I'm afraid. You have a knack for dialogue.