Sunday, October 18, 2009

Chapter 31: Mustardseed


I have searched high and low, in places wet and dry, and no Mustardseed.

Mote, Peaseblossom, and Cobweb don't seem to know where he has gone, or they do but refrain from telling me. The collective consciousness of the Frogs perhaps has something to do with it. It could be anything - there are still so many things that I do not understand. The Frogs are detailed and complex enough to make one give up on them. Positively, if one is in doubt about Frogs, or even if he thinks he knows something definitely (for "knowing definitely" is the most hazardous way of knowing, Mustardseed would say) he should assume instead that he has no idea, knows nothing of the situation, and should humbly go about his directive, rather than acting as if he is in control, as I have done with my moist friends.

That Frog never could tolerate a cage. Always testing the Impossible Barrier, Frog-feet upon the glass, he would look longingly into the distance.

He could have hopped out, down the hallway, into the light of the outdoors. Or, perhaps like his namesake, he has turned into a fairy and flown away. In either case, present or not, he will surely continue to bestow unique inspiration to us in sublime and covert ways. Perhaps he'll be in the shifting reflection of a pond, or the arc of a mossy branch, bending toward the water, or maybe some rogue pond-wave that gets one all covered in Wet, providing some measure of hilarity or humility, whichever fits that particular moment, or whichever one deserves, as Mustardseed always seemed to know which words a Frog or man needed. Or perhaps we will again see him hopping along in the mud, like I found him on that lovely day, when I was first introduced to not frogs, but Frogs.


He was such a thoughtful and persistent Frog; sometimes negative, always doubting. But he was soft on the inside; soft as any man or Frog could be. And such wonderful things he taught! We shall all miss him very much. As with any friend departed, what does one say besides "We will miss you"?

It is interesting, the memories that come back when someone has gone. They are not always the memories that one would guess.

I remember, one warm Sunday afternoon, shortly after bringing Mustardseed and Mote into my dwelling (they had just settled in) I found myself with Mustardseed. Mote was asleep under the water, tired from her long day of arranging the Dwelling. Frog-foot upon the glass, looking up at me, his round eye bending the reflection of the world, Mustardseed did a strange thing. To this day, never have I seen that Frog give a compliment. But in that moment Mustardseed, looking around with a smile that he could not hide, said that he believed this new place to be his true home, comfortable and lively, with friends and family, his favorite Mind-Perch; his Lily Pad.

Until he reenters our world, full of words and dictums, he shall be in the periphery of our minds - the place where most friends reside most of the time. I do not doubt we will see him again.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Chapter 30: Cobweb's Phrase

And so Cobweb, a female, was introduced to us. She shortly heard and felt the magnanimity of our happy quartet, and so joined us.

Peaseblossom immediately began asking questions, as in how many Morsels Cobweb had eaten, if she preferred swimming or hopping (when given both options) and also, what was her favorite color.

Peaseblossom asked her favorite color.

Cobweb said that she had eaten four hundred and ten morsels, that she preferred swimming, and that her favorite color was purple, because it was the opposite of yellow, which is the color of her right arm. She said that she liked purple because it was the opposite color of yellow, and it was important to like opposites every now and again, especially if you could sometimes hold them in your mind together without letting the man-idea of Separation get in the way.

Mustardseed then asked Cobweb her favorite Frog-saying, whether it was a ditty, quotation, or haiku, and if she did have one, please recite it, if she dared. I saw a keen look in Mustardseed's eyes. He was quite focused on Cobweb, or perhaps past Cobweb, for his eyes seemed to stare to a far-off place.

Cobweb said that she certainly would (in a tone that told me that this Frog was not one to be squeamish) and to Listen. She then propped herself on a log, and said:

Cobweb propped herself on a log, and spoke:

"Reality grows from understanding. The more seemingly unrelated items a Frog can meaningfully hold in her mind, the more items that she can bring together despite her impulse to dwell on their differences, the farther that Frog goes toward discovering more of the asymptotic truth - a small crumb of the cosmically infinite thing that she calls reality."

Mustardseed seemed quite energized by the presence of Cobweb, perhaps, he said, because she says things from within, but not really within, as the things are more outside, between, and intertwined with the Frogs than from the perspective of a single Frog.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Part II: Into the World. Chapter 29: Cobweb

Today, during the afternoon's pleasant heat, I decided to take my Frogs out on a walk, in their new home-basket.  It was interesting to note their response to this walk.  They now knew that it was to be much further than before, thanks to our moisture-bearing basket, and they showed it (or showed it through trying not to show it.)  Mote was Frog-feet forward, leaning over the side of the basket, looking for new sights.  Mustardseed had much of the same interest, though trying not to look overeager, by keeping only one eye toward the opening of the basket.  And Peaseblossom, again in one of his Moods of Aloofness, sat in the back, singing to himself.

After traveling twice the distance of our usual walk, we came to a pond, thirty yards across and fifty yards long, and I put the Frogs in the water and sat myself down, glancing around and lighting my tobacco-pipe.

I looked out over the water, watching the Frogs swim around freely.  I discussed with my Friends that I was curious how deep the pond was, and after a short debate, Mote decided to see exactly how deep it was by swimming to the bottom.  With a kick and a flutter of droplets, she disappeared beneath the surface.

She disappeared beneath the surface.

And at that moment, watching Mote swim down into obscurity, I realized that my Frog Friends had certainly grown up, reaching their fullness, far from their lengthy adolescence and now able to take care of themselves, with or without me.  It was one of those rare moments when one truly knows the progression of life, seeing in front of him a single event that is somehow tied to all the other events of his life, yet is alone and apart as this pond was from the sea, and above all, makes him feel Alive.

I remembered to myself that the Frogs have no sense of Time, and only the sense of a narrative to give meaning and a feeling of progression to their lives - "No clock," they say, "can propel a Frog to his Pad."

My mind buzzed to connect the current moment with the perspective of the Frogs.  It came to me that perhaps the Frogs see each moment as I was seeing the current one - elevated and lucid, of a particular significance that spurns the brain forward in a fever of metaphor-making and pattern-recognizing, a moment that serves as an anchor for one's memories - changing both previous and upcoming memories by shifting the lens of perspective by an incalculable amount.

As my mind ran along this path, a certain bubbling began to froth the waters of the pond.  Up came a wriggling, frothing mess of green and red - Frog-feet slapping the surface of the water.  I picked up the tangle of Frog in my hands and set it beside me on the mud.

I was surprised to find not only my friend Mote... but also another Mote!  She had seemingly generated another Frog of the exact same smoothness and color.  Perhaps the only difference was that one of the Motes was a bit chunky and the other thin as a rod.

One of the Motes was a bit chunky.

The other was thin as a rod.

I opened my mouth to speak to Mote, but I realized that I did not know which Mote was Mote, and so closed my mouth again, patiently waiting for the scenario to reveal itself to me, as Frogs so often do.

There was a moment of silence expanding, damming up our will to speak.  I tried to discern as best I could, by squinting my eyes and moving my head, which Mote was the real Mote, as I could not rightly remember if Mote was the chunkier or the thinner of the two, as my memory held a Frog somewhere in between.

But my probing was discovered; one of the Motes, raising her head and meeting my eye, impetuously accused me of Mixing My Motes.

Mustardseed grumbled.

All of the Frogs and I spoke at once, trying to figure out what was going on.  Large Mote was particularly assertive, insistent on introducing a new Frog Friend, named Cobweb.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Chapter 28: Boat

Yesterday, while taking the Frogs on a walk, we came across some very strange structures, which made the impression that the Gods had dropped their bird-nests upon the plain.

The Gods had dropped their bird-nests upon the plain.

The Frogs and I approached, postulating on what the purpose of such structures was.  Peaseblossom asserted that surely they were houses, built by tall and skinny creatures who had an inclining for branch-rooters or root-branchers (these are known to us as trees - the Frogs insist on including both the root system and foliage system in the name and often say it one way as much as the other, "root-branchers" or "branch-rooters," making for quite a bramble of words.)  

Mustardseed said that these houses could also be used by some amphibians in deeper waters as respite from the Depths.

I asked Mustardseed if this was perhaps a boat instead of a house.  Mustardseed said that, no, it was a house, as boat implies something that is unnatural - i.e. a vessel for taking one out of his element.  This object would keep the creature within his element by permitting some Wet into the area, yet staying afloat in a consistent shape.

Mustardseed said that it was a house because the word boat implies something unnatural.

I then argued that water that is too deep for a Frog is surely out of his element as well, again making the object a boat.

Immediately after I finished, all of the Frogs voiced, vehemently and nearly in unison, that it was not a boat because if one is in or near any type or amount of water, he is closer to his element.  I was skeptical to this.  However, I do indeed love the water - do not we all?

All of the Frogs voiced that it was not a boat.

And so I dropped it and started again to think things that could perhaps be useful, rather than arguing with the Frogs - I had neither the patience nor the folly to keep it up.

Since, on these long walks, the Frogs frequently urge me to return early because they quickly dry out, I have of late been thinking of a solution.  And I think that I have found it in these heavenly nests - I shall make one, a small one, with a hole on one end.  I shall wet it thoroughly before putting the Frogs into it and taking them with me out of doors.  A house, I will call it?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Chapter 27: Leap Frog

This evening, while drinking the concentrated juice of apples and looking out the window at the darkened city, lonely of light save a lamp here and there, I approached the Frog dwelling and asked my friends what they would like to do tonight, perhaps something lively, as it is just past the summer solstice, and I needed reassurance in the face of non-Time going by so quickly.  

The Frogs were playing a game of Leap Frog.  It may be strange to hear that the amphibious friends play this game, (as it would seem too typical or far-fetched for them to actually play) but in reality, in the reality shared by you and me, they do (if indeed we do share it, instead of hoard, ration, or keep it.)  Many Men do not believe that Frogs play the game, but this is because - as Peaseblossom says - Men have a knack for believing (or convincing themselves of) the un-real and yet not believing the truth in front of them, an iniquity which is in all likelihood caused by their similarity to those prissy pruners: the Curs`ed Birds, who are adept at maintaining their vanity, flying, (which is for the birds, a phrase coined by Mustardseed) and who, of course, are perilously infamous for their appetite for certain amphibious creatures which shall not be named because those wonderful amphibious Friends do not like to hear of that particular tendency.  Such Curs`ed Bird creatures are, unfortunately, imitated by Men.

Peaseblossom said that this is because Men have a knack for believing (or convincing themselves of) the un-real and yet not believing the truth in front of them.


And so I watched the Frogs play their game, an exact copy of what you and I might call Leap Frog, except perhaps a more appropriate title for their game would be Rapid Leap Frog, as the Frogs are most adept and agile in their game, which is surely the ancient purified form of our version of Leap Frog, for our bodies are so unwieldy and ponderous for such feats, feats for which the Frogs are agile and yet strong, built for such olympics.  In the (original) Frog game, the Frogs leap over each other in rapid succession, hopping over one another with the consistency of cogs within a machine - so fast as to convey an image more related to the falling and churning of water than the jumping of creatures.  Around and about they roll, in a brown-and-green hoop-blur, making myriad tiny splotching noises upon the wood floor.  

So delighted was I that I pulled out my ancient flute, dust-laden and neglected, and began piping the liveliest ramble of notes that I could manage, all the while capering and smiling at my Friends, under the glow of two meek lamps, in my small Dwelling.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Chapter 26: Carving

Recently, at the Lily Pad, the Frogs and I have been discussing hobbies.  I have decided that Writing is a most fruitful past-time, yet as Writing requires much of the brain and senses, it cannot be maintained (for me, at any rate, said Mustardseed) for a consistent period of time.  In other words, I frequently find myself wanting to create, yet unable to channel a narrative.

So the Frogs and I have been discussing new hobbies.

Mustardseed, leaning over the water-bowl, was the first to recommend the idea of Carving, citing that it involved creation but perhaps not the same intensity of thought, being fairly monotonous, woody, and useful.  He then winked in my direction.

Mustardseed said that it was fairly monotonous, woody, and useful.

Slightly confused, but faithful in my Friend, I decided to pursue the hobby.  And so, like a fabled treasure hunter or fortune-finder, I set out to find the Tools.

The list of items to collect was as follows:

4 Carving Knives
1 Saw
2 Rasps
2 Sharpening Stones
1 Sharpening Strop
1 Guide Book

The sharpening stones and strop I obtained from a great herd of Whales, who had found them among the wreckage of ancient ships, namely, Achilles' arsenal ship, Myrmaid.

The guide book I found in the cracks of a glacier, taken there by Hygelac, an old and experienced woodcarver who had met a frozen end among the Floes.   

The rasps and saw I found tucked away by some creature (who called himself Tom,) deep inside the knot of some ancient and whistling tree.

The knives I found, wrapped in cloths, in an ancient ruin of Scotland.  They were somewhat phantasmal at first, with a red hue, but sure enough they came around to the world of the not-mind, and I was able to clutch them.

The locations of these were somewhat hard to find and the journey somewhat long.  But, sure enough, given motivation and effort, I found the task to be as doable as any other, if only one were to try.  And so I set to work Carving.  I have catalogued my progress in a similar Journal, available at a certain confusing but reliable (as many Frogs are) location:

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Chapter 25: Social Contract

Today, upon arriving home from a long and wonderful trip to a certain Lake, I greeted the Frogs.  Mustardseed, with a Bird in his throat, (he had not spoken since he last saw me two days earlier) greeted me and, after clearing, asked how my trip was, and if I had felt Froggy around that great and wondrous Wet, if I had come to any conclusions, or if I had met any certain Amphibious Friends.

I answered him, saying that I was partly weighted, partly uplifted, confused and conflated.  

I said that my trip certainly made me more Frog-like, as the lake always clears my plate, tips my table, shuffles my deck, etc., and has a generally mind-cleansing effect.  

But I also said that there were many other distresses, rearing their bald and ugly heads, urging me to fall in line with the world of Men.  I was to, as is laid out in the social contract, Get A Job, Make Something of Myself, and generally, Perform.  And all this, I said, was fine, as I also agreed that I must indeed do things, and succeed, and...

At that moment, Mustardseed interrupted me, putting his Frog-foot upon the Impossible Barrier, and finished my sentence, saying that of course I would like to succeed and make many Life-Leaps, but that I do not quite enjoy the grating and obnoxious pressure of Enforcement From Without, as I was surely a person who, like a pond-plant, would rather simply have the ingredients of Wet, sunlight, and Time (if Men insist on believing in such a thing,) and would, sure as any Frog or pond-plant, Grow.

Mustardseed said that, sure as any Frog or pond-plant, I would Grow

Sitting across from the Dwelling, looking into his Frog-eye, I could hear the beginnings of a storm rolling in: a great electrical beast, casting down its bolts and winds upon the area, huffing and puffing, full of impetuosity and abominable will, whistling its winds through my windows as if to challenge me, daring me to break my agreement.

Snapping me out of my day-dream, Peaseblossom, who was accompanying Mustardseed by the Barrier, waved at me, hopped over to the cup, went inside, and sat a certain way.

Peaseblossom sat a certain way

With spunk in his voice, Peaseblossom said that I must Do This, and tell that stormy man to Take his social contract to the Birds, for that is surely who it is for, as it is most certainly not written for any Frog to follow, and thus not any Man who is of a Froggy mind.  

I looked at Mustardseed, who was watching his Froggy Friend.  In his eye I once again saw the world, bent to fit its shape.  His eyes, his soul's gravity-laden gates, were constantly bending the world to fit its shape, however rigid or stormy it might be.

Perhaps - some strange and alien genius if so - this is what Mustardseed intended me to see in his silent and penitent eyes.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Chapter 25: Frog Day

After learning that today is the International Save the Frogs day, I went over to the Frog Dwelling, brimming with excitement (for today was certainly a day which saving the Frogs would have been wondrous) and anticipating quite a happy conversation, I instead gasped upon reaching the Frog Dwelling.  

For there was Mote, the meekest of the Frogs, sitting on the rocks, looking quite pained and out of sorts.  I immediately reached in to cradle her in my hands (the Frogs frequently enjoy the warmth of a hand.)  She refused my offer, saying that any sudden movement would pain her extremely.  Mortified with worry and concern, I immediately asked her what was wrong, and began looking for the other Frogs, who would perhaps know what was wrong with the most athletic, most personable Frog that surely ever hopped among the lily pads.

Mote looked quite pained and out of sorts

I heard Mote's voice as a murmur, a far-away shadow, so distressed I was to hear of her pain, and so intent on finding a cure or hint from the other Frogs, who surely had some piece of Frog-lore that could remedy Mote's sickness.

But my problems compounded, for I found both Peaseblossom and Mustardseed in much the same state - huddled with their Frog-feet around their stomachs, bent over with pain.

So close I came to hysterics, at the possibility of losing of the Compasses of my Soul (incarnated in the minds of my Frog friends) that I nearly fainted.

After righting myself and reigning in my consciousness - strange how one can never will one's consciousness anywhere except home - I tried to catch up to what Mote was saying, forgetting that she was in fact speaking to me during my hysterics.  

Mote said that I should stop worrying, but that I should in fact worry very deeply, to the core of my soul.  Stop worrying because she and Mustardseed and Peaseblossom were in fact very fine, in good health, and thriving, but that I should worry very deeply because at this moment, at precisely 11:17 on April 28th, known by Men as International Save the Frogs day, all Frogs "collect their Froggity into one: combining all their emotions, their thoughts, their musings, and their conditions into one great Communal Consciousness-Pond, so that all may feel the general condition of Frogs as a group, and thus act accordingly to respond to any needed tasks."

I gaped at this - upon discovering a Communal Consciousness among the Frogs, wondering at the greatness of it, the advantages of such a ritual, the well-being that this must surely create among Frogs and all things associated.

And then my heart sank, for I then saw the real ramifications: my Froggy friends were writhing not because of their own pain, but because the overwhelming pain of other Frogs, suffering from terrible toxins, pernicious ailments, and general Frog habitat destruction and contamination due to the wanton actions of my own race.  Doubled over with bellies full of mercury-food, pained and confused due to the strange temperatures and drought, and terribly disheartened because of the Frogs' neglected state, their forgotten talents, their wasted love for the world and for Men.

It would be over in thirty minutes, said Mote.  I held the Frogs in my hands, sniffling to myself, looking the other way, keeping back the flood, for I cared so much for my Friends, realizing how important they had become to me and the stability of my existence - true bastions, they were, friends of exquisite character, spunk, and empathy.  And I wished that my Man friends and I could share in their pain - and thus feel what we have wrought, for if we could experience what my Frog friends have gone through this night, we surely would have changed our un-Frog-like ways long, long ago.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Chapter 24: Gold

This afternoon, after finishing the old epic Beowulf (I have been reading it aloud to my Frogs,) and setting the book down with that too-satisfying feeling of having completed a book, Mote made it known that she was not quite comfortable with the description of Grendel's mother.  

Mote was not quite comfortable with the description of Grendel's Mother

Mote said that Grendel's mother had too many characteristics of Frogs, as she was Insatiable, an excellent hopper and swimmer, and could easily remain on land or in Wet, whichever she chose.  Mote said that this close similarity was perhaps offensive, as Grendel's mother was seen as a Spawn of All that is Horrid, and is generally portrayed to be Not a Good Thing.

Peaseblossom said that perhaps Beowulf, too, was Froggity because of his abilities with many of the same things (he had to swim for three days to get to the monster's lair,) and also because of his supreme valor.

I asked the Frogs what they thought about all of the gold in the epic - the bestowing of golden diadems and rings, of shimmering corselets and beautiful bodices.  I said that the gold seemed to have an ever-present role and that it was a bit like the currency which moves the characters and plot along, making an appearance in each scene and finally providing a backdrop for the finale of the book, when Beowulf fights the dragon near the beast's hoard.  

Mote and Peaseblossom looked between each other, confused.  

Mote and Peaseblossom looked between each other, confused

Mustardseed intuited their confusion, and explained to them that currency and gold were highly prized by Men for their beauty and the power which they could bestow.  After Mote asked how this love for a certain metal could have started, Mustardseed replied, saying that once, fifteen-thousand years ago, a man found a piece of the metal, noted its peculiar coloring that reminded him of the tone of his long-deceased mother's skin, and promptly began acting like the metal was very Precious, guarding it and hoarding it, much like the dragon, and eventually convinced, through his misplaced reverence for it (it was so much like his loving mother's comforting skin,) eventually convinced through jealousy many of his friends to covet the item: the man eventually sold the item to his friend in exchange for his friend's wife, and currency through gold was born, the first transaction being for the affections of one Sour and Unfortunate Lass.

This long and unlikely story (do you not think?) over, I asked the Frogs if they had any cur-

And I dropped the question, as Mote and Peaseblossom were so interested in the Ramifications of Mustardseed's story, and now a list of things made of gold (spoons, guns, rings, boxes for rings, toilets...) that the attention was quite diverted from me, perhaps because of their lack of interest, perhaps because at that moment I started to complain about numerous friends who had borrowed from me and not Paid Back, which, due to currency, had dampened our Lovely and Flowery Friendship, for which I would pay any amount, if only the relationship could return to its previous state.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Chapter 23: Story

This afternoon, after rearranging the contents of the Frog Dwelling and gingerly placing the Frogs back into it, I stood back and surveyed my work - a new type of Dwelling, modeled after a place-setting, complete with a bowl, cup, and two spoons.

Mustardseed told me that he appreciated the new Dwelling arrangement - that it was important in both form and function.

I asked the Frog to elaborate.

Mustardseed said that the Dwelling contains enough Wet, like the last arrangement, but it also now seems to have a certain goal in mind, a certain way of being that carries the mind along a path, which is certainly a Good Thing, for that way of carrying is perhaps the most effective.

Mustardseed said that it seemed to have a certain goal in mind.

I said to the Frog that this is surely true.  I told him that I indeed meant to carry the viewer on the path of a story with the new setting, thus enhancing the presentation of both the Dwelling and the atmosphere for the Frogs within it.

Mustardseed said that he liked the story, its ambiguity and ramifications, and was looking forward to musing on it, while basking in Wet and enjoying the warmth of this newly-discovered and most pleasant season (the Frogs are too young yet to have seen Spring.)

Peaseblossom asked what the story was About, that he was unsure of what to make of it, and that he would like an explanation, if we Pleased.

Mote said, with vigor, that the story was about the pleasant, continual feeding of three Frogs, and surely the spoon and bowl were symbols of this.

I asked Mote what the cup perhaps symbolized, in this scenario.

The Frog stopped and sorted this information.  She said that it surely does not mean drinking, as Frogs in fact never drink with their mouths, but only with their wonderfully thin and armorless skin.  She said that perhaps it was a symbol for the containing of that which sustains us, whether it be Wet, or Morsels, or perhaps even Frogs.

I thought on the function of a Dwelling in containing these sustenance-giving Frogs, how pleasant it was to have them and yet how unpleasant to keep them Hemmed-In, and all the while knowing that this latest Dwelling arrangement was to perhaps atone for my secret and iniquitous Sin of Frog-trapping, by at least providing them with a pleasant and stimulating story in which to live.

As I thought this I noticed Mote trying to get my attention.  She was watching my furrowed and concerned brow, a very knowing and Froggity look on her face, with an elegant and assertive posture.  She said with a degree of urgency that we should play a game, and, which game would I prefer the most, as I surely get to choose, for I was the Man of the Hour and had built the Frogs a new story.

She was watching my furrowed and concerned brow.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Chapter 22: Madness


In the most agitated and sloppy hand do I write this, because of Momentous Events, be they real or unreal.

I soon expect the Horsemen of the Apocalypse to ride in, fury-stricken, or perhaps the Second Coming of the Lord, for today the world has turned upside down, as the English song relates.  I am beside myself with worry, for last night, after capping the day with writing in my journal, and walking over to my bed, with the Frog jar on my nightstand, I believe to have lost my sanity. 

The Frogs spoke to me.

After blowing out my lamp and looking out the window at the darkened city, I lay myself down, prostrate, upon my chilly bed.

“This jar is quite dry,” said a wee but dignified voice to my right, at close proximity.  In a hot panic, I relit my nightstand lamp and looked around the room for stowaways.  My searching eventually led me to the Frog jar.  One of the Frogs looked at me intently, Frog-feet upon the Impossible Barrier.  The next voice was just as miniscule, but nonetheless a thunder-clap in my stormy world.

“Yes, we need water presently,” said the other Frog, which I was watching.  His lips moving and he held his head high.

"Yes, we need water presently," said the other Frog.

I pinched, rubbed, and tormented myself relentlessly, urgently attempting to bring myself out of this madman’s dream, the final proof of losing my mind, the possibility of which each Man ponders at least once in his life.  To fail to purge the demon of my soul would surely end in a lunatic’s demise—ostracized, condemned, and shut away. 

Dared I speak?  What can a Man do, when Madness speaks to him?  In an attempt to shoo the fiend off, he uses his wits to speak back to Madness, showing the Fiend that he retains at least half his wits. 

 Collecting my scattered courage, I played madness’ game.  “Oh?” I asked, and fetched fresh water, pouring some into the jar, up to the knees of the Frogs, and sat upon my bed, stricken, trying desperately to maintain myself.  I immediately thought of the day and the hour in which the demon within me would give my secret away to a company of people, and I looked upon it with terror.  O horrid, to know that one’s sanity is abbreviated.

Pale as a ghoul, I blew out the light, and went to bed, feigning normalcy.

It was Quiet.  Enough to make mountains shiver, to unnerve Zeus, or frighten Mephistopheles, or make Cerberus run with his tail ‘tween his legs.  And then, from curs`ed darkness there was a croak, a hoarse and devilish voice.  It echoed through my mind as through a great mineshaft, deep into the darkness among the tunnels that Madness had bored into my brain:

“Thank you, Sir.”

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Chapter 21: Dewey's house


Over to Dewey’s house I took the friends, in a jelly-jar, their Frog-feet propped upon the glass, their faces looking very unassuming, and their minds surely confounded by the Impossible Barrier.  Upon examination, Dewey, a man with a bird-beak nose and plumage from his ears, looked wide-eyed at the beasts, and marveled at their origin, and said they were surely related to the European Fire-Bellied Toad, but were certainly brighter, with a defiantly red and impassioned Belly.  He lectured briefly about these toads, saying that in actuality most things called toads are actually Frogs, and giving a brief list of their habits and needs.  He mentioned that amphibians, and especially Frogs, are quite possibly the most interesting creatures in the World, due to their strange skills and their relationship to the water and the earth, which was so intimate that a Frog would sometimes perish if the slightest contamination were incurred into his habitat, even if a man covered in soot bathed in a Frog’s pond.

He asked me if he could take them in order to preserve the specimens, and perhaps present them to the court in London as a new species, bringing both him and me lofty distinctions, for the Frogs in the New World were all thought to be mundane and dull.  He reached for my jar.

“Perhaps,” I said.  I was strangely offended at Dewey’s reach.   I was looking at the Frog friends, my gaze returned by both sets of uncannily conscious eyes.  The Frogs shifted in their jar, propped upon their long hind legs.  The green-and-brown Frog looked at me, or perhaps through me, and I saw in his eye the elongated reflection of my head, and the world behind me, twisted in the eye’s globe, bending the images of the world to fit its shape. 

The green-and-brown Frog looked at me

Dewey gave me a peculiar, bird-twitchy look, and reached again, reiterating the rewards from such a rare find, and postulated that I had no reason for keeping the Frogs, aside from using them for bait, which would surely be a waste of such Plunder.

“No,” I said, and put my free hand in front of me, to block his reach, and promptly put the jar back into my satchel.  I said that I would like to keep them as pets in my new living quarters.  I believed that they would make good companions.

Disappointed, he looked at me as if I was a child entertaining a fanciful trinket or absurd idea.  I turned, stony and cold, to leave.  Dewey snapped at me, mumbling something about a petty and unjust mind.

Walking home, I kept the jar close to my chest to protect my new friends from the night’s chill.  Proud I was, and surprised at my defense of the Frogs, for I had used Frogs so many times to my advantage, and now I seemed to be affected by them for the first time.  I found myself changed, perhaps because of their princely posture, their heads raised high by their stout Frog-feet, or perhaps because of the knowing eye that followed my countenance.  They may have brought out a side of me that was more Human, or maybe more Frog-like.  I seem to have gotten the two confused on this day, while fishing along the Delaware.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Chapter 20: Beginnings

Please excuse my long break.  These next few Chapters will outline my meeting of the Frogs, and a few of the events leading up to the time of my starting the Journal.  I will begin each post that is from the past with the phrase -Backstory-.

Yrs. Truly

-Backstory chapter 1-

Today, enjoying the stillness and voluntary boredom of fishing along the Delaware, and watching schooners and water-birds pass, all enjoyed through the smoke and flavor of my tobacco-pipe, I briefly wondered at man’s connection to all of this—the birds, the water, the fish—and also his connection to himself, and if perhaps the creatures and natural wonders of the world could help a Man uncover the mysteries of his own elusive and somehow unnatural soul.

I spied two small Frogs along the bank.

Hopping, they were, abreast each other, Companions of the Mud.  I thought it good fortune to find two at once, and two easy catches at that, for I intended to use them (as was my custom when finding Frogs,) as bait for great freshwater fish, or perhaps even a water-bird.  I rigged up two hooks upon polls, and just as I was about to puncture the greener of the two Frogs upon the hook, I noticed their peculiar ruddiness.  One of the Frogs had a green-and-brown motley on his dorsal, and the other a purely green dorsal, both with black spots that ran symmetrically down the spine, but each Frog also had an underbelly of Fire-Alabaster skin, which I thought to be peculiar for any Frog in this region.  Instead of putting them upon hooks, I decided to spare the fellows, and put them in my fisherman’s basket, with intent to take them to R. Dewey, a naturalist with whom I was familiar, to inquire if he would be interested in adding them to his collection, or perhaps dissecting them.