Once upon a time long ago there lived a fat little toad who had serious self-esteem issues. You see, he’d been at the side of a pond recently to get a drink and when he looked down he saw his reflection and realized he was really awfully ugly. He was covered with small lumps and his eyes bulged a lot, his front feet were kind of pigeon-toed and he was a sort of gross yellowish-tan with a puffy yellow belly and what’s worse, he was covered with dozens of weirdly shaped black spots. He also had a big wobbly double chin and a bizarre sort of grin because his large mouth just went that way all by itself. He gave himself a name, not a really nice one but a name anyway and it was R. E. Pulsive, Ari for short.
Ari imagined other toads maybe looked pretty much just as he did but he still could not bear to know that he was likely the ugliest. He wanted so badly to hide but didn’t know where to go to do that. So he finally made up his mind he would live all alone with his ugliness in a place where no one would ever find him, where he could hibernate in the fall and awaken in the spring. Ari knew that when the air cooled it would be time for him to find someplace to sleep, and when it warmed again it would be time for him to wake up.
But oh, where could Ari hide? Then one day he was very relieved because he finally found a perfect hiding place. It was under a waterfall way deep in the woods! No other toads would see him there. He hopped and slipped over the green slippery rocks and managed to get way back behind the falling water where it was shadowy and private and he eventually forgot all about the loud but beautiful sound of the waterfall.
So this is where Ari lived. There was enough food for him and he sat quietly amongst the green and dark slippery rocks trying to stare through the falling water as he faced forward, dozing, waiting, and feeling oh, so very lonely.
As the weeks passed he noticed he was getting colder and the rushing waterfall seemed to be flowing a lot slower. Bugs, worms and tasty salamanders weren’t appearing as much as before, and he was getting very hungry. Ari backed up against the wet rocks but they were very much colder now and soon after this, without even thinking about it, he suddenly turned and slid down and down into a deep dark hole within those slippery rocks and he fell into a sound and dreamless sleep while the waterfall slowly became a hard, thick shining cage of ice, and everything was finally still and silent.
Ari woke to hearing the waterfall flowing again, the sound like silvery bells. He felt warmer as he scrambled out of the deep dark hole and up onto the rocks and thought, “Well, I’m still lonely and I know I’m still ugly,” and he wriggled into his old spot facing the back of the waterfall. A movement caught his eye and he hopped-turned to look. It was a toad! Right there under the waterfall where he lived! It was smaller than he and somehow he knew it was a girl toad. She was covered with small lumps and her eyes bulged a lot, her front feet were kind of pigeon-toed and she was a sort of gross yellowish-tan with a puffy yellow belly, and what’s worse she was covered with dozens of weirdly shaped black spots. She also had a big wobbly double chin and a bizarre sort of grin because her large mouth just went that way by itself.
Ari stared and stared and the little lady toad hopped to him and bumped her big crookedy grin mouth against his and he saw that they both looked exactly the same, that neither of them was at all ugly, and Ari felt so happy and he was never lonely again.
©Jun 21, 2016 LC Van Savage