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14 May 2012 @ 01:04 pm
The Real LJ Idol: "A Tale Of Amphibian Ambition"  
A Tale Of Amphibian Ambition
real lj idol | week 27 | 1376 words
Once upon a time…

x-x-x-x-x

Once upon a time, there was a frog with an excess of ambition.

The frog lived in a small pond at the edge of a field. There were flies and mosquitoes and butterflies to eat, and the occasional minnow. There was a stand of trees where the frog liked to take shade, and a cluster of boulders near the trees that offered cool crevices for the frog to lurk.

It was a very satisfactory pond, from a frog's perspective, and the frog had no intention of leaving it to find better. At heart, he was a lazy creature, and who knew how far away a creek or river or another pond might prove to be? However, it had occurred to the frog that this pond could be bigger. A larger pond would attract more insects and other delicious food. It would offer more room for the minnows to increase their number, and perhaps entice a female frog to take up residence.

The frog was not entirely sure how either he or the minnows had come to be there, but while it could simply have been a lucky accident, he was certain that a larger pond would have a better chance of creating the sort of magic needed to make that happen.

It seemed to the frog that if the edges of the pond could somehow be stretched or pushed back, the pond would grow bigger. He tried moving some of the muck himself now and again, between eating dragonflies and slipping through the shallows. It was hard work—much more effort than he was prepared to exert. Still, he wanted that larger pond. So the question was, who could he get to do the work for him?

From time-to-time, other creatures came to the pond to drink: foxes, field mice, horses, birds, and badgers. Birds ate the same things frogs did, and they had sharp, evil feet and dangerous, pointy noses. Clearly, they were not to be trusted. The frog had also narrowly escaped being eaten by foxes and badgers, and so he now avoided both. But how might he enlist the aid of the others?

He thought and thought through an entire afternoon of excellent floating and an evening filled with soft, glorious rain. He thought clear through to the next morning, and by the time a few field mice showed up to drink, he'd formulated something of a plan.

Mice, he felt, wanted peace. They wanted quiet places to hide and good food and cool water, and they wanted to go about their business without being noticed by predators or anyone else.

"Friend mice," the frog said, "please hear me: there is a better way. I have seen you hurry and scurry along in your attempts to drink quickly and return to shelter, but consider this: rather than having to go all the way down to the pond, why not bring pond closer to you?"

The frog paused, pretending to catch his breath, but really listening to the excited stirrings among the mice instead. "Dig with your paws, from the water back toward the grass. Dig and take the dirt with you, and in time the pond will follow."

The mice began digging, and soon uneven streaks stretched outward from the pond toward the grass. That was not quite the result the frog had intended, but other mice showed up as the morning went on, and joined the effort. Before long, one end of the pond was much farther away than when the day began. Mice came and went, stopping for darkness and then starting up again the next morning. The frog lazed in the shady shallows, eating damselflies and croaking occasional encouragement. When night came again, that end of the pond reached clear to the taller grass. The mice seemed quite proud of themselves, and the frog was just as pleased. The work was certainly taking shape.

The next day, the frog inspected the new area of the pond. It wasn't very deep, which was no surprise, as both mice and their thinking tended to be small. What it needed was some tamping down, the frog thought.

For that, one required horses.

After many days, during which the mice were happy and the frog was grumpy, a horse finally wandered to the pond to drink. The frog hopped up onto a boulder to address it from a safe distance where he could be sure of avoiding the horse's enormous hooves.

Horses, he had decided, wanted to be admired. They were proud creatures, enamored of their fine forms and their firm, glossy skins. The frog felt a stab of envy, no doubt shared by many other small and perhaps gelatinous beings, at the horse's good fortune in being large, swift, strong, and hard to trample. This made him all the more determined to use the horse to his advantage.

"Friend horse," he began, "you are the most magnificent being I have ever seen."

The horse lifted its head from drinking and swiveled its ears in the frog's direction.

"It is a shame that such a well-turned leg as yours should be marred by mud."

The horse looked down at its forelegs, which had entered the edge of the pond.

"No, I'm afraid it's around the back of your nearest hind leg," the frog said. "Perhaps a stroll through the water would remove it?"

The horse stepped farther into the pond, and marched slowly near the perimeter.

"Your strides are most impressive," the frog said. "Just imagine how you would look running along the edge of the water, with the spray kicking up around your heels!"

That was all the encouragement the horse needed. It pranced back and forth around the pond, lifting its legs high. The frog only hoped that most of the displaced water would eventually find its way back.

"Such a marvel!" the frog said, when the horse paused. He gestured with his forelegs in feigned enthusiasm. "I am very glad of the demonstration."

Satisfied with the salve to its ego, the horse nodded and drank once more before stepping delicately out of the pond. It walked off into the grass (with a great deal of show, the frog thought), and soon disappeared.

It stormed that afternoon. The rain poured down and the winds flattened the meadow surrounding the water. The frog stayed hidden beneath the shelter of a boulder, watching as the pond slowly grew. The storm finally stopped just after dark. The frog climbed up on top of the boulder into the damp, warm air, and sang with happiness for the day ahead.

The next morning was beautiful and sunny, and the meadow hummed with insects the frog hoped might come his way. He ate a butterfly and a large beetle and several inconsequential flies, and swam around the new shallows at the far end of his pond.

All that extra space was wonderful, he thought. What lovely she-frog could resist his pond now?

A minnow happened by, the biggest the frog had ever seen. Had it grown because of his improvements? He chased it through the water, keeping after it as it zigged and zagged until he finally overtook it and swallowed it in a single gulp.

Delicious. The frog floated languidly, giving the occasional, leisurely kick. This was the life. He hadn't felt such freedom since he'd been a tadpole, so many ages ago.

A shadow formed overhead, but it couldn't begin to detract from the perfection of the day. The frog swam and kicked in a stupor of satisfaction.

The shadow grew larger and larger, until it suddenly crashed through the surface of the pond. The frog found itself being lifted up and gobbled down by something strange and disastrously huge. His last thoughts were of surprise and dismay as he slid into darkness forevermore.

The Great Blue Heron stalked through the water, glad to have found such a tasty meal.

What a marvelous little pond, it thought. I wonder why I've never noticed it before?




If you enjoyed this story, you can vote for it along with many other fine entries here.

 
 
 
A Sentient Being: Libraryalien_infinity on May 14th, 2012 08:35 pm (UTC)
This was a clever take on the topic! :)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 15th, 2012 05:29 am (UTC)
Thank you!

I'd started out writing a story about my father and his tall tales, but it seemed a little flat. I had another idea about a frog selling scam real estate, but it morphed into something a little more traditional here. -ish. ;)
cindytsuki_no_bara on May 15th, 2012 04:49 am (UTC)
a frog with ambition, hee. i love "small and perhaps gelatinous beings", and that the frog is ambitious and intelligent and manipulative but also really lazy.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 15th, 2012 05:33 am (UTC)
i love "small and perhaps gelatinous beings"
It's bad enough being frog-sized in comparison to a horse, but they're also a little more... insubstantial (i.e., squishy)... than other animals their size.

but also really lazy.
Aren't they always? It must be that a manipulative nature lends itself to laziness, at least if the manipulations are successful. :0
Jemima Paulerjem0000000 on May 15th, 2012 04:58 am (UTC)
I knew that wasn't going to turn out the way he wanted it to!

I like how it reads like one of the moral-tales, and the way the animals can talk to each other, and how each one's place in the food chain influences how the frog thinks of it.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 15th, 2012 05:37 am (UTC)
This one is more Aesopian than traditional, in that lazy characters always seem to get their comeuppance in Aesop.

and how each one's place in the food chain influences how the frog thinks of it.
I wonder if it would be hard not to, if you were farther along the "prey" side of the scale than the "predator" side.

We have a little dwarf bunny as a pet, who's lived with us for over two years now, and it still thinks we're going to eat it. :(
(no subject) - jem0000000 on May 15th, 2012 09:02 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - pixiebelle on May 16th, 2012 02:47 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - jem0000000 on May 16th, 2012 07:06 am (UTC) (Expand)
lriG rorriM: pathlrig_rorrim on May 15th, 2012 04:55 pm (UTC)
This was delightful and fun! I'm sure it helps that frogs are one of my favorite critters.

I like how the frog strategized to appeal to the different animals, and the ending was picture perfect. Well done!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 15th, 2012 07:49 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Things did not turn out well for the frog, but then again... there's a parable on greed in there, given that he had a perfectly glorious pond to start with. He wound up making it more attractive to everyone. :0
lawchickylawchicky on May 15th, 2012 08:40 pm (UTC)
What a fun story!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 15th, 2012 11:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I really enjoyed working with the language here, almost as much as the plotting. And, of course, seeing the world's various attributes from a frog's POV. ;)
basric: Once upon a Timebasric on May 15th, 2012 10:51 pm (UTC)
Yours is more a fable with a moral and a very good one at that. Loved it.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 15th, 2012 11:35 pm (UTC)
It is! The frog's greed, harmless though it seems, comes back to bite him in the end. Though at least the mice are better off!

So glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading and commenting!
Lose 10 Pounds of Ugly Fat...  Cut Off Your Head.n3m3sis42 on May 16th, 2012 01:46 am (UTC)
Hahahaha. Love it. It's a pretty good analogy for what happens when you get ambitious and more visible in other areas of life.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 16th, 2012 06:53 am (UTC)
It is! The frog wanted to have his pond noticed more, but he didn't think about allll of the potential noticers, and what that might mean in the end.

Greed-- it doesn't pay!
m strobelmstrobel on May 16th, 2012 02:14 am (UTC)
!!!! I was not expecting that ending, haha! What fun this was :D Absolutely loved it, and the ending there made me laugh out loud!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 16th, 2012 06:54 am (UTC)
It was a surprise, wasn't it? A little cautionary tale for an overly ambitious frog. Sometimes, it's better to be happy with what you've got. ;)
Kristenpixiebelle on May 16th, 2012 02:48 am (UTC)
I liked the Aesop feel to this a lot! I love stories with talking animals though I never write them myself. This was so much fun!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 16th, 2012 06:56 am (UTC)
It really is more of an Aesop type story, complete with unexpected moral.

I don't think I've written talking animals myself before now, but the story definitely called for it, and I enjoyed it.

Thanks for reading!
devon99 on May 16th, 2012 08:43 am (UTC)
Hee - thoroughly enjoyed this one.

Poor froggy:(
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 16th, 2012 08:18 pm (UTC)
He thought big, but he didn't think 'big enough'. :0

Thanks for reading! :D
the_day_setupthe_day_setup on May 16th, 2012 12:46 pm (UTC)
A few tweaks and this could be a paid blog post for taxation-phobic small business owners. :)

Veddy nice. And I for one can't blame the frog for outsourcing.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 16th, 2012 08:19 pm (UTC)
And I for one can't blame the frog for outsourcing.
The fact that he has floopy, soft fingers would make the job harder, and nobody could do what the horse so easily does!

Still, he sure enjoys letting everyone else work while he eats and lazes around. And who likes that? ;)
m_malcontentm_malcontent on May 16th, 2012 04:06 pm (UTC)
Clearly the moral of this story is **** being industrious and clever, just leave well enough alone :P

Actually I LOVED this, the twist was so unexpected and the story just rolls along then the flinch at the end, then a well earned smile, well done.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 16th, 2012 08:20 pm (UTC)
**** being industrious and clever, just leave well enough alone :P
Hahahahaha!

Or certainly that greed has its price. He was very clever, but his dissatisfaction led him to build something that would be just as attractive to the wrong kinds of 'others' as the few he was thinking about.

So glad you enjoyed it, including the ending! :D
whipchickwhipchick on May 16th, 2012 04:41 pm (UTC)
A cool addition to the Aesop canon - neat to see you taking on this form, and your interpretation is pitch-perfect! I love his strategizing for the 'in' with each animal.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 16th, 2012 08:23 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I really had intended to avoid doing a fairytale/fable kind of thing, but the non-fiction story I was working on wasn't quite cutting it, and this one started to appeal to me enormously.

Certainly, it was better than the 'real-estate obsessed frog' story that was lurking at the back of my mind before it became this. :)

The funny thing about his decisions regarding how to motivate the mice and horse is that regardless of his own personal ending, the mice are better off. Though they also did most of the work, so perhaps there's another moral there, too. :0
baxaphobiabaxaphobia on May 16th, 2012 05:45 pm (UTC)
OOPS! Sometimes one needs to just be content rather than thinking things could be better if... smile. Nicely done.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 16th, 2012 08:25 pm (UTC)
Sometimes one needs to just be content rather than thinking things could be better if...
Definitely true in this case.

Sometimes, your 'new and improved' something attracts the kind of attention you wish it wouldn't. Kind of like trading in your nice, reliable car for some testosterone-laden fantasy and then having it stolen.

Thanks for reading and commenting!
(Deleted comment)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on May 16th, 2012 08:25 pm (UTC)
The last thing I expected to be writing, too. And yet somehow, it happened!