This is the sad tale of a frog called Fred, who thought he was a prince. Now, Fred was just your average run-of-the-mill variety bullfrog, nothing exotic or fancy, no shiny coloured skin or anything of that nature. And he didn’t live in a rainforest or jungle, no; poor old Fred hung out at the local pond down the end of Carven Street.
In fact there was nothing that distinguished Fred from any of the other frogs in the pond, other than the fact that he believed he was a prince who had been turned into a frog by an evil and wicked witch. Now how he came to believe this notion is still a mystery, despite his best friends, Bob and Hop telling him until their grey warts had turned green that he was a frog and nothing else. But Fred wouldn’t hear of it and on top of everything else he genuinely believed that Bob and Hop were once his brave knights who had also had a spell cast upon them. There was just no reasoning with Fred and no matter how much you argued with him he just wouldn’t see it any other way. Not even Doctor Fideus Toad, the number one psychiatrist for frogs and fish, could make any headway with Fred who was as stubborn as they come. But where everybody else saw obstinacy Fred saw faith; as the great poet, Frederic Frog once wrote: “Faith climbs the mountains that doubt builds.”
So every day Fred did the same thing, he would have his early morning dip in the muddy waters, followed by a lovely breakfast consisting of fresh flies and mosquitoes; he would then pack a lunch and then make his way out of the pond, up the embankment of the creek and up onto Carven Road, where he would sit for the whole day, from sun up to sunset, weather in rain or shine, holding a sign with the words “Free Kisses” on it. On the vain hope that a beautiful princess, woman, girl – anybody would come along, feel sorry for him, and give him a kiss – thus breaking the cruel spell that had been cast upon him. And this went on day after day after day after day after day after day...well – you get the picture. And not one person ever stopped or even glanced down at him and this went on for years and in all that long time Fred didn’t receive one kiss – not even a smile or “How do you do.”
Some thought he was playing a con, a ponzi scheme, trying to get kissed, but this theory was quickly shot down as we know he didn’t get any. Now, Fred was always considered a little strange among his peers, even before this daily ritual, he would always dream of what his former life as a prince must have been like. In fact Fred wondered what the world was like beyond the pond and perhaps he should venture further out to find the one who would lift the spell. But for all his boasting Fred never got any further that Carven Street, frogs, just like humans, are creatures of habit. And so the years passed and while Fred sat there with his little sign, his friends, including Bob and Hop moved on with their lives, got jobs, practiced their croaking, married had tadpoles and settled comfortably into the life of a bullfrog and the amphibian world in general. But unlike the others Fred never gave up on his dreams, he kept wishing upon a star knowing that someday his princess would come. That he would realise his goal of being a prince once more.
And so life at the pond went on as it always had until one day when Fred didn’t return from Craven Street. When Bob and Hop went to investigate all they found at the spot where Fred had sat for years, were he sign and his packed lunch from the day before - uneaten. But there was no sign of Fred. He had vanished, gone, disappeared; and no one knew what had happened to him. Was he killed? Was he eaten? Did he end up as an appetiser at a French restaurant? Did he finally get up the courage to go out into the wider world? The speculation and gossip continued around the pond, it was a mystery, so much so that Doctor Fideus Toad wrote a paper on the subject and held several conferences on the matter. But amongst all the conjecture, assumptions, rumours, guesswork, supposition, supposing and hearsay there was one theory that was never uttered, although it had been quietly thought by many; could Fred the bullfrog have actually been a prince? Could he have found his princess, could he have received his kiss that broke the spell and now the prince and the princess were living happily ever after in some far away land?
Question after question and no definitive answers. It seemed that the mystery surrounding Fred would remain just that – an unsolved puzzle. But whatever the case may be the disappearance of Fred brought great change to the pond. No longer did the amphibian inhabitants of the pond at the end of Carven Street sit around croaking all day, now many began to dream like Fred of seeing the wider world beyond the pond and many, not all mind you, because change is never easy, but a brave few, nonetheless, got up the nerve to venture out and see if there wasn’t perhaps a place for them in the world other than the local pond. And so began the great frog migration that has swept the world ever since as the ballad of Fred the bullfrog took hold amongst the amphibian community, the simple story of a frog who thought he was a prince who wasn’t afraid to follow his heart and dreams. Who never gave up striving for what he wanted. And who perhaps, just maybe...got his wish.
Copyright © 2011 by Peter Jessop