This week’s challenge: Rewrite a fable or a fairy tale by giving it a new, perhaps modern, twist.
(I wrote one instead)
One April morning, a single white feather floated down unto a green pond along Big Boot Bayou, landing at its center and sending ripples over the surface in all directions. Toad saw this and panicked— “HIDE ME QUICK!” he yelled. “Dem boids, dey come tah roost again, have mercy!” He jumped frantically from lily-pad to lily-pad and finally onto the pond’s muddy bank where he collapsed from exhaustion, his throat inflating and deflating as he gasped. “Oh, Lawd… (pant)…dem boids… (wheeze)…dey come again tah roost in dat can’py up yonder …Ay…gone get gobbled, I knows it.” Toad lay with his yellow belly draped over a gritty stone half-sticking out of from the mud and with his limp limbs dangling off both sides.
He whimpered helplessly.
From the near by water’s edge, a mighty voice rumbled, startling Toad, who then sprang straight up into the misty air shouting “NO GOBBLE TOAD!” repeatedly the entire time airborne. He conked his head against the stone. That shut him up. If it had been a squawk he had heard, then Toad’s froggy heart might have ruptured, and then he would have leapt his last leap).
“Gone get gobbled..I knows it. gone get gobble fo sho” toad whined dazedly.
From the waters edge the might voice spoke again; “you picked a fine morning to set the whole swamp to panicking. Look around. The bayou is just as peaceful as I ever seen it and your carrying on like there is a fire.”
“Its woist dan dat,” toad replied without looking at who he replied to.
“Worse than fire?”
“Yea, a feather!”
“Dat’s what I said.” Toad snapped, and then he turned around and saw, about a jumps distance away from him, the enormous flat head of an alligator facing him, smiling at him with a mouth full of honed points. “I saw me a feather fall in da pond; dem damn boids comin back to roost again in yonder tree tops. Ooo, Gator, you bet your leathery hide and take dat to da rivva bank, mon frere.”
“You’re jumping to conclusions“
“HAHA!” Toad interrupted. “Clever devil, you.”
“Apologies— no pun intended,” Gator said. “But you should try to calm yourself. Stress, alone, can make you croak long before your time. Besides, there is nothing to worry about until there is something to worry about, after all.”
“Nuttin to worry bout till dey somtin to worry bout?” Toad mocked and then muttered “Couyon” beneath his breath.
“What was that?”
“Ima frog!” he raved. “And boids find we frogs to be good eatin, yeah, and dat feather I seen dis mornin’ floatin ‘top da watah— dats bad joo-joo, dat is. Dem boids comin, and I’m as sho of dat as a toitle is slow on its feet and when it thinks.”
“Worrying won’t help” Gator attempted to explain, but suddenly the stone on which Toad sat began to shift and tilt, and Toad again began to panic.
“The swamp is sinking!!” he yelled. “Lawd have mersaaay! If it ain’t somtin its somtin else.”
A slow drawling voice came muffled from inside the stone. “Who said that?”
“Now da rocks is a talking” Toad carried on. “Dats bad joo-joo, too!”
“Would you stop that.” Gator scolded. “It is just Old Shelly. All of your shouting just woke him up.” Toad looked down and understood. What he thought was a stone was actually Old Shelly’s shell. Old Shelly’s decrepit head poked out and he craned back as far as possible to look up at Toad, who was looking down at him.
“What do you want Shelly?” Toad sassed.
“I might ask the same of you, you cocky sack of warts, but with that mile-long, whip-smart tongue of yours, I will never hear the end of it, if I do.” Toad unconsciously flung out his tongue and licked his forehead between his eyes, an embarrassing compulsion that he would enact usually when he felt humiliated. Gator’s broad grin widened. Shelly continued. “It is like Gator said, I was napping until I heard all the fuss and belly-aching and carrying on about feathers and birds and bad joo-joo. I tried my damnedest to ignore it but when I heard you bad mouth us turtles, I had to see for myself the fool doing all of that whooping and hollering. And I should’ve known it was you. Now, we turtles ain’t so quick, but let me learn you something—you don’t get to be my age by being no fool.”
Toad leapt from Old Shelly’s back and faced the old turtle “dats easy for you to say, toitle! You got dat cozy shell you can hide in where dem boids can nevva getcha!”
“What birds? Where?”
“I saw me a feather just dis morning. Bad joo-joo!”
“Well, lah-tee-dah,” Shelly said. “When I was about your age I saw a coil of freshly shed snake skin, but never in all of my years living around this here pond have I seen a livin slitherin serpent, not once.”
“Dats likely cuz you spent all dem years in dat shell.”
“Think what you want. That’s what you’re going to do regardless of what anyone tells you.” Shelly retracted his head back into his shell, slowly, as old turtle are wont to do, grumbling as he did.
“Wait!” Toad leapt at Shelly and tried to force his body into the whole after Shelly’s head, his webbed feet kicking at mud for purchase as he failed trying to squeeze his body into the shell’s opening while shouting “you gotta hide me, Shelly, Please-OH PLEASE! Dey has to be room in there for me.”
Old Shelly jabbed his head outward with surprising dexterity butting his head against Toad’s. The force knocked Toad toppling backward, bouncing across the moist mud like a skipping pebble. He tumbled uncontrollably into the wall that was Gators grin. “Don’t disrespect me, you yellow-bellied cretin. And keep your crying down. Let and old timer have his dignity and his rest.” And Shelly withdrew.
Exhausted now, Toad hopped limply toward the river away from the pond. “Goin get gobbled by dem boids, I knows it,” He whined.
“Hey Toad” Gator called, and Toad turned to face him. “I was thinking… We amphibians need to stick together, you know?”
“What’d you call me? Insult me will you! Why I oughta—“
“No, no, no” Gator explained. “What I am trying to say is that you and I are alike, different, but alike, and I want to help you.”
Toad brightened. “You mean it? You’d help me keep hid from dem boids, Gator?”
“Of course” Gator assured.
“How? How? How?”
Gator answered by simply opening his jaws wide.
“NO! NO! NO!” Toad protested.
“What is the matter? It is just like the shell you were trying to squeeze into, except without the grumpy turtle.”
“S’pose I do hide in dere…but you don’t lemme out?”
Gator thought for a moment. “You will just have to trust me.”
“I get it!” Toad said. “This is a trick, a duirty rottin trick.”
“What would I want to eat you for? Can’t you see how big I am? Big Gator needs a big meal…” Gator trailed off. “Just forget it. You can either trust me or try your luck on your own when the birds come…and they are coming!” Gator turned his large body as if to dive back into the water. Before going in, he turned to Toad once more. “Believe me when I say I am not trying to trick you. I’m trying to help you.”
“Wait!” Toad said.
“I trusts you…I’ll do anythin to keep from dem boids.”
“I know your nervous, but don’t worry about a thing.” Gator said and opened his jaws wide imploring Toad to go inside. Toad advanced then quickly halted. “S’pose I want to come out every once and again? How would you know dat I want to come out?”
“That’s easy.” Gator said confidently. “Use that tongue of yours to tickle the top of my mouth, and I will let you out as soon as I feel it.”
“Oath of oak,” Gator replied and opened his mouth again. Toad hopped inside, past all of the many sharp points of Gator’s teeth. Once inside Toad felt, at last, secure.
Once Gator closed his jaws, the frantic tickles started immediately. Toad tongued the roof of Gators mouth, he sprung against the backside of Gators clenched teeth, he tongued some more, he jumped some more, he tired himself out, he went limp, and finally Gator gobbled Toad down into his gullet, where no bird could ever get him.