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Froggy Tales

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Originally posted on 12/07/12 at:





"Story time!" the children shouted eagerly. The delighted cry rose up as a chant, getting louder. "Story time, story time, story time!"

"All right, all right, settle down." Tiana told them, kindly but sternly. It was common for such a request to be made before going to bed. "What story would you like?"

"The Princess and the Frog!" the eldest of the children requested.

Tiana's husband, Prince Naveen, sat down beside his wife. "Aw ha, ha, that is one of my favorites." He said in his rich foreign accent, winking at his wife.

Tiana gave him a knowing smile. "Gee, I wonder why." She knew exactly why; it was their story. Although they had watered it down to make it easier for their kids to understand.

"It's Uncle Louis' favorite too." Said the youngest. "He'll be sad that he missed it."

"A musician's life is very busy." Tiana told her, thinking of their alligator friend. Although most people would think that she and Naveen were crazy for hanging out with an alligator, let alone letting their children spend time with one, they were very good friends with the large reptile, who was very different from the rest of his kind. "But don't worry, he'll be visiting soon. Now then, one story, then it's time for bed."

"Aww!" the children cried.

"No complaining." Tiana gently reprimanded them, then cleared her throat. "Ok then, here we go. Once upon a time, there was a handsome prince from far away kingdom. He was traveling to attend a fabulous party."

"A costume party." One of the children added.

Tiana nodded. "Yes, a costume party, she acknowledged. "But while on his way to the party, he stopped in the village where he met a wicked witch."

This was an alteration from what really happened. It was much easier for their kids, being so young, to understand what a witch was rather than a voodoo using Shadow Man in league with evil spirits, who was the actually fiend in the real story.

"The evil witch tricked the prince." Tiana continued. "She cast a spell on him, turning him into a frog."

Naveen cleared his throat to interrupt. "Lets not forget how the prince's so-called trusted attendant betrayed the prince to help the Shad- I mean, the witch."

"That's complicating the story a bit." Tiana told him. "Lets wait until they're older before adding that part." At Naveen's shrug, she continued. "The witch tried to catch the frog, but he was too fast and managed to escape. Meanwhile, at the party, a young village girl, who was friends with the daughter of the man throwing the party, arrived. She was dressed as a princess for the party. And while she was there, she met the transformed prince."

"Quite a shock, no?" Naveen asked, giving her an amused grin.

She cut her eyes at him. "You have no idea. Frogs don't normally talk to people. The girl was very surprised."

Naveen worked his charm on her. The look on his face would normally cause all the ladies to swoon, but his beloved wife seemed to be immune to it… most of the time. "Ah, but she was still drawn in by his charms."

"Hardly!" Tiana scoffed. "At the time, all she saw was a slimy frog."

"Mucus!" Naveen corrected her. "It's not slime! It's mucus!"

The two were getting off topic, and the children were getting impatient. "Mom, Dad, the story!" The eldest cried. "We want to hear the story!"

Tiana and Naveen came back to the present, leaving behind the memory of their unusual meeting. "Yes, sorry. Um, dear, you were saying…"

Tiana sighed. "Anyway, the prince believed that a kiss from a princess would break the spell, and he asked for one from her. The girl didn't like it, but she decided to give the prince a quick kiss."

"As if she could resist." Naveen whispered so only she could hear, making her roll her eyes.

"But she wasn't a real princess." One of the children declared. "So the kiss didn't work."

"Yeah, she turned into a frog instead." Another added.

Tiana cleared her throat. "Do you two want to tell the story?" she asked, trying to sound serious, but her tone revealed her joking manner.

"Sorry, Mom!" the two children replied, knowing that it was rude to interrupt while others were talking.

"Now then, yes, the girl turned into a frog too. And then she and the prince were chased into the swamp by a big dog. They thought they would be stuck as frogs forever. But then a miracle happened." She and Naveen both looked up at the starry night sky, focusing on two particularly bright stars. This part was also an alteration of the truth. "A star came down from the sky and spoke to them. It told them to go see the good witch that lived in the swamp, and maybe she would be able to help."

"Just like Mama Odie!" cried one of the children that had just interrupted, already forgetting about being reprimanded.

Tiana let the interruption slide. "Yes, just like Mama Odie. But unfortunately, the good witch could do nothing. She said that only a kiss from a true princess would undo the curse. And she also told them how they could get one. You see, the host of the party was the king of Mardi Gras, that would make his daughter a princess, but only until the stroke of midnight, because after that, Mardi Gras would be over."

"And surely the princess would be willing to kiss a frog to turn him into a handsome prince. After all, she did want to marry him so she could be a queen."

"Naveen!" Tiana cried, shocked that he would be so blunt. She didn't want her friend, Charlotte, to come across as shallow, even if it was sort of true.

"What?" Naveen complained. "That's what happened."

Tiana cut her eyes at him, but didn't change his story. It was close to the truth anyway, at least the part about Charlotte wanting to marry Naveen simply because he was a prince. But to dwell on such details would just confuse the kids.

"Anyway," she continued, "while they made their journey out of the swamp, the two got to know each other, and soon they fell in love." There were dreamy sighs from the girls and sounds of disgust from the boys. "Oh, stop that now and just listen. As the two entered the village, the evil witch found them. She used her crystal ball to cast a spell that made them see illusions." They had decided to go with crystal ball since it was easier to understand than a magic talisman.

"What are illisons?" the youngest asked, badly mispronouncing the word.

"Illusions, dear." Naveen replied. "And they're things that aren't really there. The witch was making them see things to trick the frogs."

"Yeah, stupid!" one of the kids teased.

"Ray!" Tiana scolded their firefly friend's namesake. "We do not call names. Now apologize."

Pouting, Ray looked away. "Sorry, Evangeline."

Tiana nodded, satisfied. "As your father said, the witch was trying to trick the frogs. But the girl wasn't fooled. Using her long sticky tongue, she snatched the crystal ball out of the witch's hands and smashed it. And with her crystal ball broken, the witch's powers were gone, and she disappeared, never to be seen or heard from again."

"Actually," Naveen interrupted, "she was taken, body and soul, into the underworld by evil demonic shadow spirits."

"Naveen! Do you want them to have nightmares?"

"Ah, they can handle a more realistic version of the truth. Right, kids?"

He received blank stares. "What are shadow spirits?" one of them asked.

"Why they're-"

Tiana cut off her husband by slapping her hand over his mouth. "Nothing you need to worry about, sweetie. We'll tell you when you're older."

"Aww!" the children whined. "It's always when we're older!"

Tiana crossed her arms. "You can either complain, or I can finish the rest of the story."

"The story! The story!" was the immediate response.

Tiana smiled. "Ok then. Where were we? Oh, yes, I remember. With the evil witch gone, the two frogs made it to the girl's friend. Her friend agreed to give the prince a kiss, and she did… but it was too late. The clock had struck midnight, and her kiss did nothing. The two of them were stuck as frogs."

"Why didn't the girl's friend turn into a frog like the girl did?" one of the kids asked.

Tiana opened her mouth to reply, then closed it again. She and her husband exchanged a curious look. Truthfully, they had never considered it.

"Well…" she muttered thoughtfully, "because the clock had struck midnight, so there was no more magic to turn her into one."

"Really?" Naveen replied. "I assumed it was because the Shadow- I mean, the witch was dead, er, um, I mean, gone."

Tiana shrugged. "Possibly. Either way, nothing happened, not to the girl's friend or to the frogs." She smiled dreamily. "But they still had their love, and that's what was most important. So they returned to the good witch and got married. And as the good witch announced to the groom that he may kiss the bride, the spell was broken. Once the girl had become the prince's wife, it made her a princess. The good witch was right, the kiss of a princess broke the witch's curse, and the two returned to the village as husband and wife. And they lived happily ever after."

The children cheered at the conclusion of the story. Tiana and Naveen shared a knowing smile and shooed them away.

"All right, that's enough, you lot." Tiana told them. "Off to bed."

Without further delay, all 21,074 tadpoles turned tail and swam into the submerged hallowed out tree truck. As the last of their children disappeared into their "room", Tiana and Naveen laid down on their lilypad. Their webbed fingers interlocked as they stared up at the starry sky.

"Why did you change the ending?" Naveen asked.

Tiana shrugged. "Out of respect for the original story, I suppose; the one that really was a fairytale and not our life history."

He glanced at her curiously. "Then why not just tell them that story?"

She smiled. "Because ours is more exciting."

Naveen chuckled. "You're right about that." He looked back up at the sky. A few seconds of silence passed before he asked, "Do you ever wish that- FLY!" Almost without his control, his long sticky tongue shot out and snatched the insect out of the air. The two of them had long since accepted their urge to eat flies. And no matter how disgusting it sounded, they were really tasty.

Once he finished his snack, Naveen finished his train of thought. "Do you ever wish your version was true, that the spell had been broken and we became human again?"

Tiana considered it. "There are things I miss about being human, sure, but I'm happy with the way things turned out."

He addressed one of his main concerns. "But you never got to open your restaurant."

She gave him a surprised look. "What are you talking about? I opened the only restaurant on the planet for animals. Sure, I'm not cooking human food, but animals from all throughout the swamp are coming to eat my food. My restaurant is the only one like it in the entire world. It may not be the way I envisioned it, but I still got to realize my dream." She looked up at the two brightly shining stars in the sky. "Besides, if we became human again, we wouldn't have had all our kids. They may be a handful, but I love each and every one of them, and would never trade them for anything."

Naveen gave her a sly look. "Speaking of children, it'll be mating season in about another month. I think another 10,000 sound good." He pressed a kiss to her shoulder. "What do you say we practice some more, no?"

Giggling, she pushed him away. "Again? Naveen, you're incorrigible!"

He snickered. "Oh, you know love it."

She rolled her eyes. "Yes, and I love you too, even if you are a slimy frog."

He shook his finger at her. "Ah, ah, ah, my dear. I told you, it's not slim."

"Yeah, yeah, I know." She replied. "It's mucus."