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[Fall]- Owing the Frog to Narcissus’ Reflection
“Come, Princess, why are you hesitating now?”
I curled my fingers, resting my knuckles against the cool marble of the fountain. I gazed off into the distance of my Father’s estate, watching the trees rustle as the wind picked up. Most of the workers and the other few inhabitants of our private living area had already retreated indoors. I didn’t blame them. Dark rain clouds loomed thick and low above our heads, and I shivered as the current of air sent goosebumps up my arms.
I placed my hands on my lap and folded them. My fingers were gray and cold. “We should go back inside soon,” I said, trying to gain some more time to think.
“Dearest Princess, you are avoiding what I just asked you.”
I reluctantly turned to look at Calix. A small green figure stood upon the rim of the fountain’s rim, clad in custom-made princely clothing, and a purple cap upon his head. His rheumy eyes bulged, his nose was practically non-existent, and his wide mouth was closed in its forever-flattened grimace. I couldn’t help but notice his frog form more than ever now. I sighed and vaguely noticed that the up-do I had worked so hard to put in place this morning was coming undone as I brushed the wisps of my golden hair back behind my ear.
“Calix, are you positive it will work?”
The frog blinked, and put his hands on his hips. “Well, not a hundred percent, my sweet, but we have to be willing to take a chance. How much longer will you be able to stand courting a lowly frog?”
“We were never courting, Calix.”
“But I’ve been by your side everyday!” Calix stepped towards me and lay his webbed hand on my own. “And with this transformation I will be able to genuinely court you! What’s the matter, Princess? I had thought that your love for me was sure.”
I furrowed my brows, suddenly wanting his green hands off of me. What was the matter with me? Up until a few moments ago, I had been completely certain of who Calix was. I had never doubted his words- how could I since he showed me his magnificent reflection? If his reflection wasn’t a testimony to his enchantment, then what was it?
Calix sighed, and turned to the fountain's water. “Maybe you just need a reminder,” he said quietly. He waved his hand over the water, and slowly his usual froggy image wavered and changed. Gradually, a man emerged in his place, mirroring all the motions of the frog.
I caught my breath. It had been so long since he had shown me his reflection that I had almost forgotten how he really looked. Or, at least how he was supposed to look... I shook my head clear of the confusion and gazed upon the man in the water. Even in the fountain’s disturbed mirror, his blue eyes were piercing. Golden-brown hair sat in small waves upon his head, and a strong jaw and prominent cheek bones dominated his facial features. His shoulders were wide and strong, and I could tell that he would be tall and well-built when he was here. The cold tingling upon my fingertips made me suddenly realize that I had stretched my hand out to touch the water’s surface.
Calix turned to look at me, but I still gazed upon the water. I watched the golden prince turn to look at my reflection as Calix moved. My image wavered, but I could still see my stiff position, broken only by my arm that was reaching out for the princely image of Calix.
“I could be this in the flesh, Princess. All it takes is one little kiss...”
I watched as the prince turned to smile winningly out at me, his bright teeth flashing. As Calix crossed his arms together, the prince’s muscles bulged and his arms settled perfectly onto his chest. I closed my eyes, trying to get a hold of my mind. Why was I getting so excited over a reflection?
His voice was deep and soothing. Nothing you’d expect to hear out of a frog. If a frog spoke, I decided right then, it was sure to be raspy. Not silky and solid the way Calix’s voice was.
In that fleeting moment, I was resolved. Didn’t one have to take chances for love? I turned to Calix, keeping the image of the prince in the corner of my eye. I offered my hand out to him, and with a toothless grin, he stepped on to it. I slowly lifted him up to my face, and looked him in the eye. He really was quite disgusting as a frog, but it had to be done. My lips forced a smile.
“What is the harm in trying?”
I leant in close to Calix, beginning to close my eyes, but at the last instant I decided to look sideways at the reflection of the prince coming close to me. Disjointedly, I watched the beautiful being tenderly kiss me, while I felt cold, clammy flesh fill the crease between my lips. I shut my eyes then, suddenly afraid, and abruptly pulled away from Calix with a loud, rude smacking noise. I retracted my hand out from beneath the frog, hoping, hoping, hoping that what I would hear next would be the solid step of a human being.
“Ouch!” A soft thud rang out as something hit the grass. I slowly let my eyes flutter open. Was it the spell being broken? Was it stretching his limbs, changing his skin? I blinked hard after letting my eyes clear, and was immediately confused. I frantically looked to the fountain’s water, saw only myself in its mirror, and then with a slow dread looked to the grass by my feet. My hand clutched at my chest.
There was Calix. Sprawled like a floppy dog toy upon the ground. The frog struggled to his feet, and attempted to brush the mud off his clothes. His silly, royal clothes. I suddenly tasted the slime in my mouth, and my hand went to my face. Rain began to fall softly, and I could feel my cheeks start to burn.
“You... you’re not...”
“Ah well,” the frog grinned through the haze. “Evidently, that one did not work. Perhaps another kiss will do?”
Fury flamed in my chest, and I could feel the shame feeding the fire. I turned my head away, and I looked to the reflection once more. What was I thinking? I scowled hard at the water, then leapt to my feet and brushed my skirt down in an attempt to regain composure. “Stay away from me,” I muttered.
“Do not address me so casually, frog,” my voice struck out louder now, and coldly. “If I ever wish to see you in the future, then you will be notified. For the time being, you are not welcome.”
I turned stiffly, and began to brusquely walk away. Once I was out of Calix’s- the frog’s- sight, I began to run. The rain began to pour heavily, it was a long way back to the castle, and I wasn’t wearing anything suitable for this type of activity, but I didn’t care. I just ran, breathing hard and fast. The rain pelted my face, thunder rang out, and I didn’t think. As trees, ponds, and eventually houses whisked past in my vision, I could feel something begin to try and expel itself from my chest. My father’s castle loomed closer. My face began to screw up into a twisted knot, and I fought to run harder.
I burst into the castle’s back door, bent down with my hands on my knees, and nearly jumped out my skin when my guardian dog Hiko suddenly appeared behind me- soaking wet and muddy. Once I realized that he must have found me and followed me while I was running, I suddenly understood what a mess I was. I gasped as rainwater dripped down my face, and my golden hair quivered in a long, tangled curtain. I noticed that my dress was torn, and the pain in my feet began to throb just as I realized that my slippers had disappeared. The numbness in my cold feet was fading, and small cuts were beginning to bleed.
For some reason, I kept gasping, even though I was sure I should have recovered from the running by then. Suddenly the taste of salt upon my lips registered, and I frowned in frustration as I realized I was crying. My dog whimpered, and I slightly lifted my head to look at him. His deep brown eyes shone out of his wet face, and I could feel him asking, What happened?
I shuddered, drew in a sharp breath, and shook my head. As I wiped my nose on my already dirty sleeve, a small wicked laugh escaped from my lips. I hated myself. “I kissed Calix, Hiko. I kissed the frog.” My voice wavered as I broke the silence, and I was finally able to fully grasp what had happened. “I didn’t... I thought that he would... change. I thought he would change if I kissed him.”
Something caught in my throat on the word ‘change’, and I cleared my throat. I sucked in a deep breath, and looked up at Hiko once more. “But he didn’t,” I choked out. “He was always a frog, inside and out. A frog with a beautiful voice and reflection,” I let my head hang once more. “He didn’t change and I was so stupid to think that he would have.”
After what seemed like a long time of trying to gain control over my spasming chest, I heaved a huge sigh and stood up. My shoulders jumped with my hiccups, and I furrowed my brows in self-disgust. I turned to look at Hiko wearily. Was it just me, or did the dog have an almost angry facial expression? I swallowed and allowed myself a moment to marvel at how animals could almost feel for you, but then continued. “Go take a bath, Hiko,” I said wearily, and I began to walk to the cold stone steps that would take me to my room. As I heavily trod up the thick stairs, only one thought continually rang through my mind as a numbness settled upon the rest of me.
What was I thinking?