Those Poor Frogs
By: Darlene Rogers
My pink conch shell went next thrown into the black and white screen of our only television set, hitting it with such force that one would think that it had made my dad mad, my pretty pink shell shattered into a million pieces like the shells you see on the beach beaten by the constant waves.
There we stood in the doorway of our living room, my two brothers and I watching with horror as he destroyed the only nice things left in our little house. The only room that held anything that meant something to my mama. I would no longer get to sit in the big overstuffed chair and listen to the ocean and pretend to see the waves roll in and out. As a child that was the closest I would ever come to actually hearing the waves.
I stood there watching my mother as she tried to stop him from destroying everything watching her face change to hate as he finally broke her crystal vase; the only flowers I ever saw in it was the ones from the yard, the ones I brought her. He was crushing it with his heavy work boot. Finally when he was all finished she sat down on the floor and cried. He turned and pointed at me and my two brothers who were crying.
“You do not deserve anything and there won’t be another damn thing brought back into this house!”
“Get up off of that damn floor woman and help me find the car keys, I need a drink!” he bellowed
“The car keys are not here. “she whimpered.”
“You probably left them in the car at The Road House; someone could have stolen it by now” She could no longer yell her throat was burning from all of the hollering she had done pleading with him to stop.
Looking at him with disgust in her eyes tears falling faster than she could wipe them off of her cheeks she hoarsely said. “Because of that stinking drink we have lost everything that meant anything to any of us.”
Pete my brother was the middle child and had just turned eight. He had this habit of when he was mad he would curl the side of his top lip up and come at you with his fists balled, ready to fight anything.
His lip was curled up tighter than I had ever seen it and he was ready to charge. Before I could reach out and grab his arm, he swished past me and attacked. With a smirking look on his face I realized that he had seen him coming, and with the force of a bucking mule, smacked Pete landing right back beside me and Bud.
Bud my six year old brother and the baby of the family was crying his heart out hugging me around both of my legs. I remember shaking like I was freezing as I was trying to protect him. I grabbed each of them by the shirt sleeve and we ran to my bedroom. I pushed them down on the floor and we crawled under the bed.
I looked at Pete and whispered “Are you ok?”
He had a very large bruise on the side of his face
“Yea I’m ok but if you hadn’t grabbed me I was gonna kill him for hurting mama’s stuff”
I knew what was coming next and sure enough I felt the floor vibrating and heard the footsteps as the bedroom door opened.
“Ruby” he yelled “you and them boys get outside and you stay out there until I tell you to come in, and I better not hear a peep out of you.”
We stuck our heads out from under the bed like turtles from their shells and looked at him. His eyes were bloodshot and glazed over like a mad mans eyes might look. I think it was then that I nicknamed him the “Alien”. He did not look like himself at all. He looked all twisted like something off of the Twilight Zone.
I crawled out from under the bed first and pulled my brothers out behind me .As we walked past him to get to the back door he hit each of us on the top of the head hard with is knuckles and gave Pete a little extra push. This was his way of reminding us he meant business.
We marched out the door one by one. I felt the vibration of the door slamming behind us. Instantly Bud was wrapped around my legs again; “Bud” I said it’s alright he will go to bed now, we have some time to play before he bothers us again.” We marched down the steps into our safe place, I could hear in the back ground the Alien calling our mother
“Joan come here woman”
In the back of my mind I could only imagine what was going to happen. He had broken everything. Was he going to break my mommy now?
All three of us stood there huddled together looking around at the large rocks that our mother called boulders she said they had been there for hundreds of years, the rocks were our play ground and our safe haven. As I looked around, wondering what to do. I imagined that it would save a lot of trouble if the Alien just picked us up and threw us against those big rocks. Throw us hard like he did everything else we owned, smash us into little pieces like diamonds scattered all over the ground. We would not be in his way anymore, we could be free.
I shuddered and looked at the two boys and said.
“Well let’s get us some dinner before it gets to late.”
“Bud run get us some onions from the patch under the tree” I said
“Can I get something sissy?” asked Pete
“You can go get us some of those big leaves from the Magnolia tree”
“Here is the onions sissy; do we have to eat these again today?” asked Bud.
“Yes we do. We have to sit quiet until we know that it is safe to move about so that the Alien does not come and hurt us. Don’t you remember what happened the last time we got loud and he heard us through the window? I still cry sometimes thinking about it.”
“I try not to remember” Bud said.
“I close my eyes and look for something good whenever he is around like the rainbow flavored Popsicle’s that Pete takes from that store down the street. He brought me one Ruby. I tried to go with him but he said I was to little. He’s only eight and I am six. He ain’t much bigger than me. Can I go down there when I get to be eight years old?”
Suddenly Pete shoved Bob
“ Shut up you little tattle tale, you promised you would not say anything. Now I won’t get to go anymore.”
Pete looked at me and I just glared at him, I was tired of trying to protect him, He was always doing something to upset any sense of normalcy we had.
“Get over here and sit down right now. I want to be able to play some before it gets dark”
Pete ran toward me yelling his fool head off.
“I get the big chair!”
“NO I do!” cried Bud “You had it last time!”
“Be quite,” I hissed. He will hear you and if he makes you get him a hickory switch like last time I ain’t gonna help you.” The last time I got a whooping too because your hickory was not big enough. I am sick of you always getting us into trouble.”
“Now get over there and put some water in this jug” I ordered and be quiet about it.
I put some onions in three of the magnolia leaves and poured us some water into our paper cups.
“Now eat and stop playing around I need some time to myself.”
“Clean up your mess and you two can play with your trucks while I climb the rocks and look out over our land to make sure more Aliens are not out there.”
“No Ruby.” Bud cried. “I want to go with you. I don’t want to stay down here with Bob. He is mean to me and makes me eat dirt.”
“I do not Bud. You always make things up so that I get in trouble.”
“Pete I have seen you do that to Bud stop lying.” You had better play good because if he sees you do anything to this baby boy you have really had it.” “He’ll bring out that big old leather belt and whoop your butt and legs. Remember the last time you cried for hours and had to hide your bruises for weeks because he hit you with the buckle.”
“Yea I remember, but Bud gets everything he wants and ya’ll believe everything he says just because he’s the baby, and I feel like I have to be mean to make him get away from me. Let him play with you on the rocks.”
Grunting I snapped. “Come on Bud. You can watch me climb the rock. I will let you be the guard of my castle, so that the Alien does not find me.”
I turned away and ran around the large boulder where I knew there was a ledge that I could climb onto to help me get to the top. I noticed as I got to the spot the ground was kind of soggy and there was a lot of green moss. As I put my leg up on the ledge my foot slipped, I lost my balance and that was all I remembered until I woke up lying face down on the slick green floor beneath the ledge.
I must have hit my head because it hurt bad, and I had a knot. I lay there looking into the darkness under the ledge being quite trying to think of what it was that was making that weird noise. All of a sudden there was motion and a frog about as long as my hand jumped right onto my face. I was so shocked I could not even yell. I reached up and grabbed it. and we just looked at each other for a minute. Then I realized there were more sounds coming from under the ledge. I slid under a little more and reaching into the darkness felt the cold wet skin of another frog. I put him and his friend in the back pocket of my cutoffs and reached in for another one and another one, until I had six frogs neatly packed in my shorts.
Rising slowly because my head still hurt, I wiped as much of the green stuff off of me as I could and slowly climbed up on the rocks.
After reaching the top, I must have been about a mile off the ground. I stood tall shading my eyes with my hand, looking around to make sure that the Alien had not come out of the house, leaning over to make sure that Bud was still ok, I could see him with his little hot wheels playing in the dirt below.
The frogs were starting to wiggle in my pockets, I reached in and pulled out two of them. I held them up in the air pretending like I was sacrificing them so that the Alien would disappear. I closed my eyes tight and prayed real hard, not realizing that I was squeezing the little things so hard that their insides was coming out of their mouths and their eye balls were bulging out of their sockets. I brought my hands down and just stood ther staring at what I had done to them, I had killed them. Kneeling I laid them down at my feet side by side, lined up like little army mean wounded from war laid out on cots.
I reached into my pockets and got two more frogs telling myself that it would take all six of the frogs being sacrificed before the Alien would flee for his life. Raising my arms, I did the same thing to them as I did to the first two, but when I squatted down to lay them beside their friends I smelt something like chicken cooking and saw that the first two frogs had turned all crusty and they had melted into the rock. The heat from the sun had cooked them. I thought this would make a tasty treat for the Alien King. He would be pleased and would gladly take the Alien with him when I told him I would trade him for the fried frogs.
While sacrificing the last two frogs, I heard Bud at the bottom of the boulder screaming and looking up at me in horror, He was yelling.
“Mama, mama! sissy is killing frogs. Make her stop, mama!”
About that time mama opened the back door, called us to come in. She looked at all three of us smiling and told us it was time to wash up for dinner. As we ran to the door I noticed that she had a cast iron skillet in her hand. She was smiling, she gently rubbed my hair and said.“ Come in my babies. That mean old Alien will not be hurting us anymore.”
Darlene Rogers grew up in Smyrna Georgia, a rural town outside of Atlanta. She is happily married and the mother of two daughters ages 20 and 27. Darlene loves writing short stories and can’t get enough of reading. She is in the process of writing the book she wished she had when going through breast cancer.