Note: This is the title story from Kissing Frogs, and Other Quirky Fairy Tales, presented by Hawaii Fiction Writers, edited by Gail Baugniet, Carol Catanzariti, and Michael Little. The collection was published in paperback in January 2021 and is available on Amazon. Net proceeds will be going to the Friends of the Library at our host libraries, Aina Haina Library and Kapolei Library. A list of the stories in the collection are posted at the end of this tale. Enjoy!
by Michael Little
THERE WAS ONCE a beautiful young princess named Gwyneth. She lived in a large castle in a tiny kingdom, with an excellent view of the enchanted forest, and she had everything a princess could desire, except for one thing. The large book of fairy tales in the castle's royal library promised that for every beautiful young princess there is a handsome young prince. Gwyneth would have settled for an above-average looking young prince, but even those can be hard to find, as we shall soon see.
But Gwyneth already had so many wonderful things. The king, her father, had never fallen in love, but he liked kids, so he had adopted Gwyneth as a baby. So there was no evil queen in the castle to talk to her mirror and be told that the girl was the fairest and then threaten her life. When the princess reached that age where girls begin to take an interest in boys, Daddy kept the boys away. Gwyneth did have a large closet full of beautiful gowns and shoes. She had an elegant little Italian greyhound named Sofia. She also had a personal servant and best friend named Daphne. Daphne had actually kissed a few boys and told Gwyneth how delightful the experience could be. Of course, Daphne was not looking for a handsome young prince, and she did not have an overly protective father to keep the boys away.
It was Daphne who suggested that Gwyneth should go to the enchanted forest one day and then lie down with her eyes closed and wait, like Sleeping Beauty in their favorite fairy tale, for a handsome young prince to kiss her awake. Gwyneth was there all day, waiting, sometimes with one eye half open to look out for a prince, so she could whistle in case he wasn't finding her. As Daphne had told her, more than once, boys need help. Gwyneth listened for the footsteps that never arrived that day. All she heard was the endless mumbling of the frogs.
The witch who lived in the enchanted forest had a wicked sense of humor. As was well known throughout the kingdom, the witch had done her dark magic to give all the frogs in the forest the power of speech. They spoke with a heavy accent, but boy could they talk. Once they left the forest, however, they were reduced to the usual croaking. It was rumored, by some folks, that the witch had also cast a spell on a handsome young prince and turned him into a frog. There was no hard evidence to support this rumor, however, and most people just laughed at the notion.
Anyway, as the shadows lengthened in the enchanted forest, and no prince had appeared, the poor princess shed a few tears and made her way back to the castle.
The next morning Daphne suggested that they consult with Melvin, the old retired wizard who dwelled in a room near the top of the castle. Melvin, who was 99 years old, had been a fairly useful wizard in his day, but now he was largely ignored. He was living out his days in his tiny room, left with his memories and lots of time to sleep. On a typical day, one servant had said, Melvin could sleep 18 to 20 hours. So it was that when Gwyneth and Daphne climbed the stairs and knocked on the old wizard's door, they could only hear snoring inside. So they let themselves in.
“Let's wake him,” whispered Daphne, and she shook the wizard gently, then less gently, until he muttered and opened his eyes. “Oh great and powerful wizard,” she said (for she knew the power of flattery), “what must the princess do to find her handsome young prince? You must help us. You're our only hope.” Daphne then fluttered her eyelashes at Melvin (for she knew the power of flirtation).
The old wizard spoke in a thin, dusty voice, and the two young women leaned closer to hear every word. “The princess must kiss a lot of ….” The last word was difficult to hear, as Melvin trailed off and fell asleep again.
“Kiss a lot of what?!” Gwyneth said.
“I think he said 'kiss a lot of frogs,'” Daphne said.
“Ewwwwwwwwwww,” Gwyneth said, and her face scrunched into something not so lovely.
“Well, I heard 'kiss a lot of frogs,'” Daphne repeated. “Could have been hogs, but no, I'm sure it was frogs. And you know where the frogs are, don't you?” But Gwyneth, who had never kissed a boy before, much less a frog, was already halfway out the door. Daphne followed, as the old wizard began to snore again.
The next morning, Gwyneth took her favorite toy, a bright golden ball, and went into the enchanted forest. She sat down in a clearing, next to a well, and tossed the golden ball in the air and caught it, then tossed it again and caught it, for this was a rather simple game. The third time she tossed it, however, she failed to catch it cleanly, and it fell into the well. The beloved golden ball, alas, did not float. It sank into the water, out of sight. Down, down it went. Gwyneth gasped, and then large tears began rolling down her cheeks.
“Why are you crying?” Gwyneth looked up to see … not a handsome young prince but a large bullfrog with a crooked smile. “Well, here I am,” said the frog, with a wink. “Call me Frederic. What were your other two wishes?”
“Oh,” Gwyneth said, “my beautiful golden ball has fallen into the well.”
“Hey, don't you worry, babe,” the frog replied. “I can retrieve your ball.”
Gwyneth's face brightened. “Would you, oh frog? I'll give you anything. I have lots of jewelry and stuff back at the castle. My daddy's rich. He's the king.”
“Nah,” said the frog. “What would I do with jewelry? I only ask for one thing. I've never kissed a princess. Give me a big juicy kiss.”
“What?!” Kissing a frog was not on Gwyneth's bucket list. But she did love her golden ball. “Well...” she said.
“Come on, babe,” the frog said, moving closer. “My lips are like Skittles. Wanna taste the rainbow?” Frederic actually had a long list of cheesy pickup lines, but we must get on with our story.
“All right,” Gwyneth said. “Just get my ball.”
Frederic dove down and quickly returned with the beloved golden ball. The frog tossed the ball to Gwyneth, then closed his eyes and puckered up, waiting for his first kiss from a princess. He waited a while, then opened his eyes and discovered that she was running away. “Come back, babe! You owe me a kiss.” He hopped after her, but she was much faster. Finally the frog stopped and shouted one more appeal at the princess. “You must be Jamaican, because Jamaican me crazy.”
Meanwhile, a couple of female frogs, who had witnessed the whole scene at the well, laughed and chatted, and laughed some more. “That Freddy,” one said, “none of the girl frogs in the forest will kiss him. He's one big, ugly bullfrog, and we've all heard his terrible pickup lines.”
That night, when Gwyneth was preparing for bed, she thought she heard a “splish, splash” on the staircase outside her sleep chamber, but she chose to ignore it. She was safe in the castle. She climbed into her luxurious silken bed and soon fell asleep. In the middle of the night, as she dreamed that a handsome young prince was about to kiss her, Gwyneth rolled over on her left side. She felt a pair of thin lips brushing against her lips. This dream was surprisingly realistic. Then she felt a long, thin, cold amphibian tongue sliding slowly into her mouth.
“Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!” Gwyneth screamed, and she threw the frog across the room. In the moonlight pouring through her window she could see no frog. She did hear some loud croaking and a “splish, splash” going down the stairway.
Frederic was on his way back to the enchanted forest, no doubt to brag about his kiss to the other frogs, perhaps to embellish the tale more than a little. Soon there would be a long line of boy frogs hopping their way to the castle, wanting their princess kiss.
But first, Gwyneth told Daphne that they had to return to the old wizard and find out exactly what she was supposed to kiss to find her handsome young prince. So it was that the very next morning they made their way to the top of the castle, and woke Melvin, who answered their question with “OK, I'll say it again, you've got to kiss a lot of frogs.”
“Frogs?” the princess said. “Frogs? Really? Ewwwww.”
“Yes, frogs,” the old wizard said, patiently, because she was a princess. “Frogs. Tailless amphibians with short squat bodies, moist smooth skin, very long hind legs for leaping, and long tongues. In a word, frogs. Now I'm going back to sleep.”
And so it was that dozens of boy frogs splish splashed their way up the staircase to the sleep chamber of a brave young princess who awaited them with mixed feelings. Her primary emotion was fear and loathing, having to kiss the slimy creatures. But, as she had read in the large book of fairy tales, the princess must find her handsome young prince. If only, if only the handsome young prince had found her in the enchanted forest when she was pretending to sleep. Sleeping Beauty had it easy!
As the morning wore on, as one boy frog after another received a kiss from the princess (her mouth closed, no tongues this time, please!), Gwyneth's bravery began to wane. It was, let the record show, after the 48th frog kissed the poor princess that Gwyneth called out, in a voice that could be heard throughout the castle, “Enough! Enough! No more kisses! No more frogs! Everybody out! Go back to your froggy lives and leave me alone!”
Daphne tried to comfort her. Sofia the Italian greyhound tried. Nothing helped. When she thought that the coast must be clear, she left the castle and walked sadly into the enchanted forest. She found a place far from Frederic's well, a place not often frequented by slimy amphibians, and there she sat on a large flat rock, covered her face with her hands, and quietly wept. A bluebird flew overhead for a while. A lone butterfly came, and went. A cute squirrel hopped close, ate half a nut, and offered the rest at her feet. The sun went behind a cloud and never reappeared. All was quiet. The only sound was the soft weeping of a young princess.
Gwyneth thought she felt a soft touch on her arm, as if someone was trying to comfort the crying princess. But when you're hopeless, there is no hope, no comforting. Then she felt a light sensation on her shoulder. Still crying, her eyes still closed, she turned slowly and felt … a presence.
“There, there, princess,” a quiet voice said. When she opened her eyes halfway, she was looking into the biggest, deepest, darkest, most intriguing eyes in her life, the eyes of a sweet young frog. Then she felt a light touching on her lips, not like the other frogs, not like anything she had ever experienced. She closed her eyes and pressed her lips ever so gently against his. When she finally opened her eyes, there he was, her handsome young prince. He took her hand and lifted her to her feet. Without a word they walked together, toward the castle.
Time to meet Daddy. And Daphne. And Melvin the old wizard. And Sofia the Italian greyhound. Time to live happily ever after.
Coming in late 2020:
Hawaii Fiction Writers present
Kissing Frogs, and Other Quirky Fairy Tales
Jane L. Mickelson. Introduction
it’s not easy being green
Michael Little. Kissing Frogs
Carol Catanzariti. Frog Prince Wants a Condo
Dawn Knox. Rivalry Most Royal
into the woods
Joanna Bressler. Goldilocks Run Amok
Gail M Baugniet. Thumbelina’s Butterflies
J. T. Page Jr. Twice Upon A Time
Patricia L. Morin. Little Red, Riding Hood
Barbara D. Parente. Hansel, Gretel, and the Food-Challenged Witch
Eloy Kaminski. The Power of the Heart
Sue Cowing. What’s a Kid to Do? A Tale Re-Trolled
Shauna Jones. The Spindle Scandal
did someone call a detective?
Gail M Baugniet. Sgt. Whitey Snow and the Seven Corpses
Scott Kikkawa. Big Bad
Michael Little. The Case of the Runaway Blonde
Bob Newell. The Princess of the Lamp Works
why were the brothers grimm?
and other tortured tales
Anonymous. Why Were the Brothers Grimm?
Jane L. Mickelson. Awakening
Dawn Knox. Worse Than Bungling
Rosemary & Larry Mild. Wooden It Be Wonderful?
E. Shan Correa. Grandmother Goose
Rita Ariyoshi. Cast Off
Rosemary & Larry Mild. Schloffin Beauty
John E. Simonds. Jack and the Beanstalkers
what, more frogs?!
Laureen Kwock. The Frog Prince
David W. Jones. The Disrespectful Prince and The Frog
Noelle Sickels. The Kindred Frog