Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Bridge (07/31/08)
TITLE: Colin and the Frog
By Lisa Holloway
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He expected to see a troll under it (it seemed there were always trolls under bridges). But nothing was there, not even the flip of a mermaid's tail to grace the rollicking push of deep green waters that rubbed past the smooth gray stone. Colin had nearly given up and turned to go. Then he saw her, rising from the water.
Or rather hopping. Frog feet . . . frog legs . . . frog eyes, unblinkingly fixed on him. Mud stuck to her back and she was a little worse for wear.
"Can you love me as I am?" Soft words croaked from a wounded heart.
Now Colin's mother (who was a very wise woman) had warned him of the deceitfulness of beauty. She had always told him that true beauty was found within. Still, he thought this might be taking it a bit far.
"Er . . . you're a frog," he replied as politely as he could.
"And you're an ugly two-legger, but I'm willing to put up with you. Now pick me up," she ordered, tapping a webbed foot. "Hop to it!"
And so it began. Every day, Colin would come to her by the stream, bringing her juicy flies and patient attention. At first, she wasn't very pleasant, but Colin remembered his mother (who was very wise) had also told him about the transforming power of love. So he stayed and listened and gave of himself, without anger, without reproof for her lack of gratitude.
He was surprised to find that, very slowly, she did begin to change. Her manner became softer. She would thank him for his thoughtfulness and sit close to him in the fading light of sunset, croaking with contentment. As he helped her wash the mud away, she gleamed emerald green and lovely.
Then one day he walked out to meet her at the bridge. He waited and waited, but his frog lady did not come. In the heat of the day, he slept beneath a willow tree, sword belt unbuckled beside him. When he woke, she was there, sitting on his chest and smiling. Another frog sat beside her.
"Friend," she said. "You have changed me. You have made me believe that someone can love me." She thanked him and hopped across the bridge with her new frog friend.
The red flush of anger filled his face. Many a tree branch died that day as he slashed his way home along the path. The slamming door alerted his mother he was home.
He poured out his frustrations over her bad advice, maligning everything she'd ever told him--from turning down lamps when he left the room to closing doors to how to treat women--he wasn't having any of it.
"Mother, you told me that love has the greatest power to transform. You told me that love never fails. So why am I standing here alone while some frog hops off with my woman?"
Her raised eyebrow told him she noticed the "my woman" comment, but was letting it pass. All she said was, "True love does not seek its own. It gives all it has for the good of its beloved, regardless of whether she ever loves him back."
His annoyance with his mother was growing by the minute. Colin shuffled his feet and glared at her.
"What?" She could see there was more on his mind.
"Love didn't transform her. She's still nothing but a frog."
Much to his chagrin, she laughed long and hard, then went for another round. "You thought--" Finally, gasping for breath, she stopped laughing and hugged her son. "True beauty is found within . . . but a frog will still always be a frog."
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