The Frog Prince

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 License

The rain battered with determination into the pavement, somehow aware that with a little application, and a few hundred years of patience, it could render the flagstones to dust and wash them all away. I walked, head down. The rain washed over me, and soaked through my stylish but, on reflection, somewhat impractical clothes. My new shoes, so wonderful in the shop window this morning, I would happily trade for something a little less expensive and with a little more leather. If something as solid as the pavement stood little chance in the eternal battle with the rain, I felt I could be washed away in the blink of an eye.

I swore, I would never go on a date again. Honestly. Men. All bastards. So charming, so cute, a smile to die for one minute, leaving you embarrassed and alone at restaurants the next. The promise of hopes and dreams on the outside, slime within. What a sad irony, the princess in the fairy tale found a frog who turned into a prince, a slimy exterior containing happily ever after.

Not that I wanted to live happily ever after. I'm a practical lass, I know fairy tales are not real life. I just want someone to love, someone to love me, someone honest, someone caring, someone special, just for me. Is that too much to ask? After the world has battered me into submission is that too much to expect in return? I live my mediocre life, in my mediocre flat, bought with my mediocre job, I accept it all without complaint. I'd be satisfied with that if I could have someone to take me away from it all, if only for a moment, if only for a brief moment every day. I could handle being dissatisfied with the rest of my life, as long as I had someone to share it with.

A raindrop landed on the back of my neck and ran, icy cold, down my spine. Maybe I should get a taxi, I started to look around. I was coming to an old church, it looked quite magnificent, clothed in a thin, shiny layer of rainwater, glistening in the street lights. There was a strange shape, huddled on the steps. A pile of damp clothing that probably concealed one of the city's many vagrants. For a strange moment it appeared as if there was a frog sitting on the steps of the church. I stopped dead.

The figure moved, a face appeared. The spell was broken. I made to move off before I was asked for money, that always made me so uncomfortable. He mumbled something. I walked on, trying to pretend I hadn't seen him. He was still talking, but I couldn't make out what he was saying. To my horror he started to rise to his feet. I walked quicker. As I reached the pavement opposite the church he reached out to me. Head down, I marched on. I could still hear him mumbling. Footsteps. Uncertain, irregular, but coming from behind. The urge to run filled me. What did he want? Uneasiness was developing into fear. Engine noise, I looked up, desperate to see the orange light of a taxi. The car splashed through a puddle and added dirty water to that already soaked into me. I felt a touch on my shoulder and spun around violently.

"What? What do you want?"

He shambled to a halt, "Spare some change Miss?"

He stood there, outstretched dirty hand slowly filling with rainwater. Suddenly he didn't seem so threatening. Adrenalin rapidly turned a source of danger into a subject of anger,"How dare you! Who are you to go asking me for money?"

What right had he to beg me for help? He was obviously doing so little to help himself. What right had he to follow me around, scaring the wits out of me, on the very streets I paid taxes to maintain?

"Spare some change Miss?"

All the anger was welling up inside me. All the resentment I'd harboured for so long. It was primed and ready to be directed at my target. I'll tell him. This no good waster. Always waiting for someone to come along and help him out. Always wanting someone else to make his life better. Expecting of everyone but himself. It was all there on the tip of my tongue, a stream of vitriol about to explode from my mouth. To cut him down with it's searing truth. And he just stood there, hand outstretched. Just waiting for his fairy princess.

I was deflated. Fumbling in my purse I produced a note and stuffed it into his hand. He looked surprised, mumbled thanks, then stumbled away. My frog prince, heading back to the sea of human desperation, leaving me on the shore. Alone. I turned to face my new beginning.

© Robert Crowther