Our third microfiction contest of the year has concluded and we are pleased to share three fabulous submissions with you--one winner and two honorable mentions. As the old saying goes, “Third time’s the Charm.” And as we might say, the Third time’s Charmed!
Our many Charmed story entries presented a new, creative challenge for us at Dandelion Press this go-round. Enchanted frogs and witches and wizards and princes abounded. There were young adult writers and elder writers, from 8 to 80 years young. We received short-short stories and poetry, from Malaysia to Italy, from Maine to Montana. And all wondrously magical!
But after all our lily-hopping considerations, we have a clear winner—eleven-year old Ruthie Lee Biette’s “Dandelion Wishes.” Her 498-word story captured our imagination like a mirror-reflection of Lori’s Charmed painting. Her bewitching, well-envisioned relationship between child and frog captured our hearts and wouldn’t let go. Congratulations, Ruthie!
And we have two most honorable mentions, both adult writers. Mindy Garza’s short-short story “Charmed!” caught us up short with its simple dialogue. With just a few words exchanged, she sketched entire new realms of possibility, echoing the enchanted moment of “child meets frog!”
Also irresistible, Susan Ferrari’s endearing story “One Froggy Day” gives us an inter-generational story of magic, mystery and resolution, all in a tidy, humorous tale that beautifully illustrates the image.
Thanks to all our creative writers for your efforts to tell the story of Lori’s paintings, and we hope you will enjoy reading these “three’s the Charm” inspired writings as much as we did!
The Winning Story
By Ruthie Biette, age 11 - Fork Union, VA
“Hi, Froggy.” I watch the child warily and she crouches down, still staring at me.
We sit, just watching each other for a long time. A fly buzzes around, close to my head, and I zap him up with my tongue, swallow him and fill my belly in half a second.
The girl watches wistfully and says, “I wish I could do that. All I have is this thing.” She sticks her tongue out. It is short and fat. I wonder how the rest of it came off and ask before I remember that humans don’t understand frogs. But then she answers me! She laughs and says, “This is how my tongue has always been! Nothing has happened to it!”
I stare in astonishment.
The girl laughs again and stands up. I flinch at the sudden movement. Then she grabs a small metal can, reaches her hand in, and throws something towards me.
I duck under water, expecting rocks like the little boys throw, but when I pop my head up I find a feast of grasshoppers just floating around. I won’t need to hunt for hours after eating this!
The girl comes the next day, and the next. Each day she brings some type of bug, and I feast.
One day she comes holding a big fluffy white flower, one of the ones the wind blows away. She gives me the bugs and sits down on her little spot on the bank. She closes her eyes, sucks her breath in, and “Whooshes!” it out.
All the little white things blow away, not one is left on the stem. They blow over the pond, and a foolish young frog eats one.
The girl smiles, and whispers to me, “Do you think it will work?”
I nod, even though I don’t know what she’s talking about.
Suddenly, the whole pond expands, and the lily pads grow. Now she can stand on them without sinking. She takes a deep breath, and steps on the nearest lily pad. She grins, the biggest grin I’ve ever seen. She crouches down, looks to another lily pad and leaps!
She jumps as well as any frog, maybe even better because of her enormous size. She takes one more leap to get to me and says, “This is great! I’m just like you! Watch me swim!”
She dives under the water and swims better than any human I’ve ever seen! She laughs and leaps and swims for hours and hours. She even has a normal tongue now, and catches dragonflies with ease.
At the end of the day she sits on the oversized lily pad watching the sun set. As dusk comes, the pond begins to go back to normal. The girl takes one last frog leap back to shore. She waves and walks out of sight. She goes on two legs once again.
But even though the day has gone, the magic hasn’t. And I don’t think it ever will.
by Mindy Garza - Southern California
The water nymph’s magic had transformed him into human form!
He admired his reflection in the water, and suddenly his watery image became hers.
“You have three moon risings to see the world through human eyes,” she warned. “Remember to stand tall, be kind, and cherish each moment. Humans often forget how precious life is, and you can help them remember.”
“I will,” he promised. His new voice startled him, but only for a moment. He straightened his legs and stood as tall as they allowed. How different the view was from this new height! He felt as though all things were possible!
“Three moon risings,” said the water nymph. “The magic is only temporary… Three moon risings…” and she rippled away.
“I’ll remember,” he said as his own reflection returned. “And now the magic really begins!” And he took his first uncertain steps toward the unknown.
One Froggy Day!
by Susan Ferrari - Gilford, NH
“Grandma! Where are you?” yelled Angelina as she searched for her grandmother who disappeared yesterday afternoon right after blowing out her birthday candles. The whole family was out trying to find Grandma.
After walking and calling for several hours, Angelina came upon a small lake. A pair of loons dipped and swam slowly in search of dinner. It reminded her of the lake her grandmother once lived on. Everyone had loved visiting her there and was terribly disappointed when Grandma had to sell it. Angelina stepped onto one of the magically humongous lily pads and sat down to rest. And think. And cry. Whatever could have happened to her grandmother? Then she heard a croaking, yet familiar, voice say, “Angelina, it’s me!”
Lifting her head and looking around, Angelina called out, “Grandma? Where are you? I can’t see you!”
“I’m right here!” was the response.
Angelina stood up and looked all around. “Where?”
“Right in front of you! Look down!”
All Angelina saw when she looked down was a silly frog hopping franticly, from side to side.
“I hear you but I can’t see you!” she called out desperately.
“Look. At. ME!” she heard and then saw the frog jump so high it fell backwards into the water.
Kneeling on the lily pad, Angelina reached into the water and pulled out the little frog. Holding it in two hands, she lifted it up to her face so they were eyeball to eyeball. “Oh, little frog,” she said sadly. “My grandmother is missing and we can’t find her anywhere. I just thought I heard her, but it must have been wishful thinking. I’m so worried about her.”
Suddenly the frog leapt onto Angelina’s shoulder and croaked into her ear, “It’s me! Grandma!”
Grabbing the frog , Angelina held it out in front of her and stared hard into its eyes which seemed to be staring back just as hard. “You’re not my grandmother,” she declared.
“Yes, I am! Believe me, I’d rather not be a frog, thank you very much. But here I am. A frog.”
Angelina set the frog down. She would not have believed it at all but its wide mouth was moving in sync with the words she was hearing. “Either I’m going crazy or this is the weirdest thing ever,” she mumbled.
“You’re not crazy and it is the weirdest thing ever,” said the frog. “If only I hadn’t made that wish…”
Shaking her head in amazement, Angelina had to accept that this talking frog was, indeed, her grandmother. “Oh, Grandma,” she said sadly. “Why did you wish to be a frog?”
“No! I didn’t wish to be a frog! I wished with all my heart to be back on a lake and to live the rest of my days there. I miss the water every day. I longed for it so much that when you lit the sixty-six candles on my cake, I made the wish and took in the biggest breath I could. For the first time in my life, I managed to blow out all the candles in one huge breath. Remember how much smoke there was? It filled the room and then the next thing I knew I was sitting on a lily pad in a lake just like the one I’d left. But this time I was a FROG!” Two tiny tears escaped Grandma’s froggy eyes.
“I’m so sorry, Grandma. I do remember lighting the candles and then all the smoke when you blew them out. That was when you disappeared! We opened the doors and windows to get the smoke out and you were gone! No one had the foggiest idea what had happened.” Angelina set Grandma back down on her own lily pad. Smiling and looking to the side, she said, “We’ll figure this out and get you back to normal, Grandma. I promise.”
They sat in silence, both trying to think of a solution to this dilemma. Seeing the pair of loons approaching, Angelina said, “Grandma, look! The loons are coming to say ‘hello’!”
Grandma managed to squeak out a screech as she practically flew back to Angelina and landed on top of Angelina’s head. “Save me! Save me!” she squeaky-screeched.
“But, you love the loons,” said Angelina. “Remember when we were kayaking and two loons popped up beside us? You mimicked their sounds and they seemed to understand you. Remember that?”
“But I wasn’t a frog then! When I first got here I jumped in the lake, thinking that if I was a frog I may as well swim. Well, those two red-eyed monsters came right at me, flying under the water like fighter jets. I was never so scared in my life! I jumped out of the water and onto a lily pad and haven’t gone back in the water since.”
Just then a mosquito buzzed by and was heading for Angelina’s arm. Grandma suddenly thrust out her long sticky tongue and snagged it before it could bite her granddaughter.
“Eeeewww! Grandma!” Angelina grimaced.
Grandma swallowed the tidbit. “Hmmm, tastes like chicken! See any more?”
“We’ve got to get you back to you,” Angelina said, changing the subject. “I know what to do! I’ll carry you home and we’ll light more candles. You make a new wish to be human again, then blow them all out!”
“Frogs can’t blow out candles,” Grandma replied despondently.
“Then we’ll all make the same wish with you and we’ll all blow out the candles for you! We love you so much! It has to work!”
“You know, it just might!” said Grandma, perking up. “But we must say precisely what we mean. Because if you’re not careful you could be turned into a frog, too!”
Angelina grinned. “Right. Be careful what you wish for, eh, Grandma?”
That afternoon, Angelina’s plan worked like a charm. Grandma was restored to her human self AND she got a lake house!