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22 Aug


by Rhea H. Boyden

‘Come on, pick up the bucket, would ya, and stop moaning’ my brother jeers at me. I haven’t even filled the bucket up yet, and already I am in tears. I have just slipped over and covered myself in wet mud. Of all the household chores we have to perform, going to get water from the well is my least favourite. Our house has no running water or electricity, so collecting water is a daily task. My brother and I live alone with our dad in Ireland and our mom is back in the United States. I am only 8 years old and I would much rather be playing with my puppies than collecting water. ‘Maybe we will get to see the frog in the well today’ my brother says to me. We continue our walk through the woods and eventually we reach the well. My brother quietly and cautiously lifts the lid off the well so as not to scare the frog away, if indeed he is there. ‘Froggy!’ I yelp with delight. Sure enough, the frog is there and he jumps up out of the well and leaps away from us. He is a very young, small frog and he lives in the well. He really doesn’t like it when we come and disturb him. He isn’t always home, and we always lift the lid off in anticipation to see if he is there or not. My brother and I always laugh, and we are overjoyed when we see him. Seeing him cheers us up and makes this task of carrying water a lot easier. We lower our buckets carefully, one by one, into the well, as our father has taught us, so as not to stir up the leaves and dirt in the bottom. We can only manage to carry half a bucket each, and even that is a challenge for us. We start the walk back to the house with the buckets. We usually take our time and play along the way. My brother walks faster than me and I try to keep up. Failing this, I decide to take a break and sit down for a bit. I attempt to wipe the mud off my clothes with some oak leaves. I finally get up and continue carrying the bucket. It has a thin metal handle and digs horribly into my hands. I drag the bucket behind me and do the best I can. ‘Boo!’ my brother shouts, as he jumps out from behind a big spruce tree. I get such a fright, that I knock my bucket over, spilling its entire contents. ‘You idiot!’ I shout at him. ‘Now look, what has happened’ I wail. ‘Gosh, sorry’, my brother replies. ‘You don’t have to cry about it. It’s not my fault you knocked it over.’ he says to me, showing little sympathy. ‘Now I will have to go back and get more.’ I groan. ‘Well, I am not waiting for you’, my brother says. ‘It’s starting to rain again and I want to get back to the house. See you later.’ I am angry and discouraged, but I am glad my brother is gone and I am alone. I slowly walk back to the well with the empty bucket. At least maybe I can see Froggy again. I lift the lid off the well and look around. No Froggy. There is no sign of him anywhere.’Oh well.’ I sigh, and lower my bucket into the well again. I pull it out carefully, and set it down on the wet, slate slab next to the well. I look up, and there is Froggy sitting on the wall watching me. I stare at him in awe and I stand very still. He seems not to be afraid of me, and keeps on staring at me. I stare back, spellbound. ‘You don’t seem very happy’ Froggy finally says to me. ‘Why have you been crying?’ he asks in a comforting tone. ‘Oh Froggy’, I cry. ‘I really hate carrying water buckets, and I miss my mom so much. I haven’t seen her in so long. I would so love to see her again soon.’ I confide in him. ‘Well, maybe I can help you’ he says to me. ‘How can YOU help me, Froggy?’ I respond sadly. ‘First of all, you are way too small to carry a big bucket of water, and secondly, my mom lives far, far away across the ocean, and I am not going to see her for months.’ I say. I lower my head down into the well to cup my hands together to take a nice sip of the delicious, clean well water. I am thirsty from my exertions. I drink deeply. When I lift my head up again, I see that Froggy is growing in front of me. His slimy skin stretches, his ears expand, and his big green and red eyes bulge. I stand there staring at him with a combination of fascination and fear. His feet spread out and his back bends beautifully. Finally he has reached the size of a large dog and he has lovely long legs. ‘Do not be afraid’ he says to me. ‘Climb on my back and hold on tight’, he encourages. I ascend his slimy back with great difficulty and hold on as best I can. He takes one big leap and we are out of the woods and have landed in the middle of a wet cow field. He grabs some of the cows’ straw and quickly braids it into a pair of reins. I swiftly saddle him up, and jump on his back again. I grasp the reins tightly. He takes one more giant jump and we are airborne. We fly west in the blinding rain. Froggy flies higher and higher and eventually we burst through the clouds and the sun is dazzling and brilliant. I am laughing aloud and I grasp and hug Froggy tightly as we continue soaring through the air. I look down and see the wide, wide ocean below. I see cruise ships and container ships. I also see planes above us. We fly around a thunderstorm and through amazing cumulus clouds. ‘Look Froggy!’ I shout. ‘Look at the dolphins down there!’ We eventually reach the coast of Massachusetts, which is easily recognisable to me from the air by the shape of Cape Cod. It’s flexed and bent arm shape has always fascinated and amused me. We fly over the mountains of Western Massachusetts and suddenly we land in my grandparents’ pumpkin patch. I jump off Froggy’s back and fall into the grass, exhausted. ‘Now is not the time for sleeping’ Froggy says. ‘You have exactly twelve hours to see your mom, and you must be back here on time.’ he instructs. ‘She is here with your grandparents and they are expecting you. See you at exactly six o’clock in the morning!’ He says. I run down the hill past the tomato patch and yank open the screen door of the house and run into the kitchen. ‘Where have you been?’, my grandmother says. ‘We have been waiting for you, dinner is ready.’ I sit down and have a delicious dinner with my mom and my grandparents. After dinner, my mom takes me upstairs and runs me a hot bath. She washes my hair and scrubs me and then I crawl into bed and we turn on the beautiful big reading lamps. Electric lamps are a wonder to me. They are something we don’t have at our house in Ireland. ‘Let’s read some nice stories, shall we?’ my mom suggests. ‘Oh yes!’ I exclaim. I snuggle up to my mom and she reads aloud to me from my favourite children’s books. Eventually we both fall asleep snuggled up together. ‘Click, click…click.’ I wake up suddenly. ‘What is that noise?’ I think. I hear it again, and then I realise it is the electric heaters clicking on to heat the house before everyone arises for the day. ‘Oh, no, what time is it?’ I think in horror. ‘I look around me in panic, and then I see a big electric clock. I see that it’s five-fifty in the morning. I kiss my sleeping mom on her cheek and slip out of bed. I sneak quietly down the stairs and out the door. I run back up the hill as fast as my short legs will carry me. I frantically search through the pumpkin patch. ‘Froggy, are you there?’ I plead. ‘Over here’ says Froggy. With a sigh of relief, I run over to him and give him a big hug. ’ Quick, hop up’ he says. ‘We must go, we don’t have much time’. I hold on tight once again to the straw reins and off we fly. I am so tired that I sleep on Froggy’s back. I awaken in a daze when we break through the thick cloud layer. I look down and see the beautiful coast of Ireland, with its green fields all dotted with yellow gorse bushes. I love Ireland and I am so happy to be home. I miss my dad and my brother. I am overcome with emotion looking at the beauty of the land I love. Froggy keeps flying. ‘Hold on tight and close your eyes’ he says. ‘We are going to land in the woods.’ I embrace him tightly and keep my eyes closed tightly for the landing. We crash through the trees, but we are fine. We land right next to the well and my big white bucket is still standing exactly where I left it. ‘Quick, grab the bucket and fill it up’ Froggy instructs. I lower the bucket into the well and pull it out with little effort. It is full to the brim with delicious, fresh drinking water. I scramble back onto Froggy’s back and I hold the bucket in one hand and the straw reins in the other. We fly out of the woods and Froggy flies me to the front steps of our house. He sits down on his rear legs and I slide off of his slimy back holding the bucket upright. ‘Thank you, Froggy. I love you so much.’ I give Froggy a big hug and kiss goodbye. ‘I will see you very soon’. Froggy winks at me and takes a giant leap and he is gone. I carry the brimming bucket up the steps to the front door. I open the door and bring the bucket into the kitchen. ‘What took you so long?’ my brother says. He looks at the bucket and his eyes bulge even bigger than Froggy’s in amazement. ‘It took me a bit longer to carry this full bucket back, as you can see’ I tell him with a triumphant smile. ‘Wow! I can see that’, my brother says. ‘Shall we go and play with the puppies now’, I suggest. ‘Great idea!’ my brother says with a big smile.

Image is ‘The Frog Prince’ by Marianne Stokes