In a tiny forest, next to a tiny pond, lived a tiny frog.
An early frost had killed the rest of his spawn-brothers, and when the lone tadpole-with-legs wriggled out of the tiny pond the other frogs were much dismayed. The Greenlord, in a fit of classical allusion, dubbed the newborn “Schadenfreude”.
The tiny almost-frog nosed forward in the mud. If its eyes could see it’s first view would have been a thunderstorm. If it’s ears could hear it’s first sound would have been the distressed wailing of the other frogs.
However, his eyes were not quite formed yet, and his ears were filled to the brim with pondscum – so, he didn’t see the storm, he didn’t hear the wailing. Schad’s only memory of his wriggle-day was a taste. Quite by accident, his nubby mouth clomped onto a fallen blackberry. It popped in his mouth and exploded with purple-sweet, a riot of spring.
And so, despite the bleakest of omens and the most dire of beginnings — Schad hopped into the world with a vague, unformed idea that the world was wonderful.
Despite all that he learned afterwards, and much effort to convince him of the contrary – the tiny frog never abandoned this precept.
When the older frogs pushed him down, and took the juiciest mosquitos for themselves — he would swim to the quiet bank by the willows, and make up silly songs about water and hedgehogs.
When the summer grew hot, and the pond nearly dried up — he took great delight in building castles from the cracked, drying bottom-mud.
When the winter ice came, he was the last to dream in the mud — dancing a jig in the bitter air, as the other frogs looked on in disapproval.
When the time of spring-love was through, and he was alone and unmated — he sang his pond-songs to the new tadpoles, and danced a solemn air across a broad oak root.
Schad danced and sang and built and dreamed – the world turned, and a plate of sorrow was his constant diet. But it never erased the first sensation of his soul, the taste of fresh blackberry.
And then the snake came.
Sliding from beyond, from the dark forest — black and gray, with eyes like white river-stones. Long as a mile, and wide as a river. It gobbled up a brace of frogs in an instant, then wound itself around the pond once, twice, thrice. The few frogs to escape had fled to the pond, and piled one on the other – croaking and groaning and smacking in terror. The looked to the east and the west, to the north and the south — but the enormous snake filled the horizon. Then one old-frog saw something, and shouted and pointed — his yellow eyes goggling.
Schad was dancing along the snake’s back.
In pure shock, the trapped frogs fell silent. Above the hiss of the snake’s scales they could hear.
Schad was singing. A silly song about hedgehogs and water.
The snake saw the tiny dancing frog too.
The diamond-head of the snake moved towards the tiny singing frog, and then came to a stop. It was too far to hear, but it seemed as if the snake was speaking to Schad.
Schad made a handsome bow and said something in reply, green face beaming with delight.
The tiny frog hopped into the air, and landed squarely on the snake’s head. Schad cupped two green hands to his wide mouth and called across the pond.
“It seems I was left out again, just my luck I suppose. You were all in a cluster, an easy meal — while I was alone, sleeping in the briar. As for you, I’m afraid that this is a water snake.”
Schad laughed and did a little jig, and then the snake popped it’s head and snapped Schad up – less than a bite.
“Well.” the old-frog said. “At least that asshole went first.”
[Story on Demand for Patrick.]