When we go to sleep, everything is normal. When I wake up, my husband is a frog.
I know it’s him by his little froggy eyes, which look at me just the way my husband’s did. “Did” or “do”? Do you use the past tense when your husband is alive but no longer human?
I know there’s been an epidemic of this sweeping through town lately. Lilianne’s husband turned into a goat two weeks ago, and Marcia woke up on Thursday beside a turtle. It was all the talk at book club, but all I could do was sip my wine while they chattered on and on about it. Now I’ve got something to talk about next time.
I pick up the phone and dial Lilianne’s number. “Hello? Lilianne? I’m afraid I’ve got a bit of a problem. My husband’s a frog. How did you turn yours back?”
“I didn’t,” she replies. “He mows the lawn more now as a goat than he ever did when he was a human.”
I thank her and hang up. That’s all well and good for her, but I can’t see any way a frog would be more useful than a human. Maybe if he’d become a horse or a cow instead. I call Marcia next.
“Marcia? Did you turn your husband back to a human?”
“Yes.” She gives me an address downtown. “There’s a witch who lives there. She’ll be able to help you out. But there’s usually a reason they’ve turned into an animal in the first place. Stuart was slower than dirt, that’s why he became a turtle. Luckily for him, I decided I liked him more as a human.”
“Did you ever figure out why he changed?”
“No clue. I just complained about how slow he was one day, and the next day, poof! Turtle.”
I frown. Why on earth could my husband have turned into a frog? He did have a tendency to complain, which I suppose you could see as croaking, but who didn’t like to vent every so often? And I don’t remember complaining about that myself recently.
Armed with the address, I put my husband in a bowl in the passenger seat and drive out. He croaks every so often, looking at me balefully. I don’t think he likes the bowl very much.
The address leads me to an ordinary-looking building on an ordinary-looking street. I pick up my husband and head for the door. When I enter, I’m surrounded by a million chaotic noises happening all at once. I’m not the only wife there, it seems – I see a woman holding a monkey, a woman with a parrot on her shoulder, and a woman with a wolf on a leash. In the middle of them all is who I can only presume is the witch, running around with a clipboard.
“Excuse me?” I call, trying to be heard over the din.
The witch hears me and comes over. “Yes, dearie?”
I hold out my husband. “This is my husband. He seems to have turned into a frog.”
The witch peeks at my husband through the bowl. He croaks at her. “I’m afraid I can’t help you,” she says.
“Why not?” I ask. I pull out my checkbook. “I’m prepared to pay whatever you ask.”
“This isn’t your husband, dearie. This is just a frog.”
“What?” I stare at her.
“This is a normal frog, garden variety. Nothing to be done here,” the witch says. “Now if you’ll excuse me.” She snaps her fingers, and I hear a cry of pain as the monkey on the woman’s lap changes back into her husband.
I hear my phone beep and check the screen. “Went for bagels and u wr gone when I got back. Sorry 4 leaving window open. Any bugs get in?”
Well, there goes my story for book club.
The frog croaks and looks up at me with those big eyes, which strangely no longer resemble those of my husband. Perhaps I’ll keep him. There’s a spot in the backyard I’m sure he’ll enjoy.
Chelsea Hanna Cohen works in publishing by day, writes by night, and can often be found reading instead of doing either of those things. Her work has previously appeared in freeze frame fiction and Microchondria II.