She came crashing through the bushes that lined the little clearing and plopped on the grass. She looked at the leaves on her plaid skirt, made a futile effort to brush them off, then shrugged. “I thought Billy liked me. But Susan and Jackie are right. Nobody would ever like me. I’m fat. I’m ugly. ”
“What?” She looked around. Her tangled hair fell in her face.
He’d been a frog since the witch put the curse on him, and he was getting tired of flies for dinner. He’d noticed this girl before. She was about eight or nine, old enough to understand, but young enough to believe in magic. She might work.
Careful. Cautiously, he left his pad and floated near her.
“You’re not ugly.”
“You’re a frog!” she said. “A talking frog.”
He waited a moment. He had been a consummate con man. He knew the deal. Don’t push. Let the mark think they figured it out.
“Are you a prince? I didn’t know there were still princes. Did someone put a curse on you?”
Yes. Yes, he thought. He was on his way. “A wicked witch cursed me because I refused to do her evil bidding.”
“A witch. Was she ugly?”
“Horrible. A green face and boils like volcanoes.”
“Ugh.” She shook her head and looked at him, sighing.
Poor kid. She was already focused on the importance of looks for women. How sexist. Actually the witch who came to his office to complain about how he cheated her grandmother out of her home was one hot woman. Before he knew why she had come, he hit on her. Come to think of it, even after she called him a crooked bastard, he hit on her again. What? Baseball players get three strikes.
“That’s a shame. And now you’re a frog.”
“You could save me.”
“I know the stories.”
He could hardly contain himself. One chaste kiss and he’d be out of there.
“But I’m a kid. What would I do with a prince?”
Like any con, always have another plan. Once he heard her on the phone as he hid in damp spots nearby. It sounded like she was talking to a sister. An older sister. Go for it. No more flies. “What about your sister? Isn’t she older? Wouldn’t she like a prince?”
“My sister. She’s twenty-one. All my friends say she’s hot. But that she’s a slut. Why are you hopping?”
He felt like saying that it had been a very long time, but he knew he’d better exercise restraint. “I’m just excited. I feel she could be my true love. Just kiss me.”
“Well,” she said.
Come on, come on, raced through his brain. Seal this deal. Then he heard something, a crashing, sloppy thump of heavy feet. What? No. No. But unfortunately, it was Yes. Yes.
A short chubby boy with his belly popping out of his barely tucked in shirt and sweat falling from his face stood over her. “Sarah.”
She looked up. “Billy. They said you didn’t like me anymore.”
“Sarah, I’ll always like you. “ He put his hand down. With some effort he pulled her up. She looked down and the frog figured she probably thought better of discussing chatting frogs with her boyfriend.
He stared sadly with his big bulging eyes as they walked away. In his disappointment, he snared a fly. He had a habit of depressed munching. Ugh. He hoped he wouldn’t be here long enough to develop a taste for them. Ugh.
He looked around. There was nobody in the pond, but him, and some other stupid frogs.
“Psst! It’s me, “ a frog next to him said. “What, you think you’re the only one? Them witches. They don’t fool around. Let me give you a tip. I saw you with that kid. You ain’t getting out that way.”
“Watch me.” He found himself inflating around his neck. So, this was what frogs do when they get angry.
“Think this over, mastermind. What are you wearing?”
“Nothing. Wise guy. What do you think will happen to a grown man found stark naked next to a kid in the woods? Whatever happens, it won’t be pretty. You’re screwed.”
“I’ll get out. I will.”
The pothead stood at the edge of the pond, weaving and shaking. “Man. This is the best.”
He wasn’t old, but he certainly was no minor. “Psst!”
“Over here.” The frog knew he had to move fast. They usually traveled in groups.
“A frog? I’m talking to a frog. Wow!” He walked over.
“And get this. One lick from me and every high you’ve ever had will seem as dull as visiting your parents and watching the news.”
“Wow!” The pothead smiled and bent down.
Ed Kratz has been published in Daily Science Fiction, Big Pulp, OG’S Speculative Fiction, Every Day Fiction and The Shine Journal. He is a member of Critique Circle, Critters and Backspace. This story was an entry in the Backspace contest. He is currently taking the author Jonathan Maberry’s Short Fiction Course.