New Years Fairy Tale

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All of the old folks know the ancient wisdom that the passions can bring you a great happiness or an awful disaster. My kinfolk are cold-natured and well-balanced, and so I have always stayed aloof from the worst kinds of agitation. I prefer living in peace and the mutual understanding shared by my good-hearted generally silent neighbors. They are small and have little shells, and they communicate with me by extending their celluloid horns. After all, they are my old friends — pale, often lethargic, but always glad when I salute them. Their smooth and painted shells in which they dwell — almost like little nuts which once upon a time had fallen into the water — can often be seen bobbing gently up and down in the false pond as though engaged in a strange dance with the wagging water plants, and although these delicate snails keep to themselves, I see that their tiny eyes actually glitter with something akin to hidden benevolence.

In fact, if eyes can smile, then theirs surely do. I refuse to let anything ruin my serenity — Praise Heaven! — so I keep my mind pellucid and tranquil. But as I glance around within this, my artificial world, surrounded by glass, where I live among the cream-and-nut-brown armor of my little mates, I sometimes question my reason for being here. What am I really? Am I just a lowly, inconsequential thing, wallowing in the depths and positioned at the very bottom of some great scale of existence? Whatever the case, here in this gelid container — sometimes clear, sometimes murky — I guess I am OK.


However, the world around us is really mad. Every day I must confront the huge figures of people who move back and forth, and hear their thundering voices. They do feed us and clean the water filter, and I watch the diminutive bubbles of air constantly jumping with a slight vibration from the deeply submerged device that extends up to the calm surface of the terrarium. I am not afraid of people, but one day recently they performed a very strange ceremony. They set up a large green plant with soft needles on its branches and then hung an assortment of shiny balls, toys and lights on it. What did this mean? Two branches were dangling just above my home, so when I looked up I saw a big blue ball covered with sequins. This startled me profoundly and not in a pleasant way. What I should do if it fell into the water?
As it was, the people seemed very happy. While they chattered and chortled,I learned to recognize them by their voices. There were three of them: two voices belonged to adults and one was higher and brighter. It was a little girl.


One evening, as twilight gathered in the corners of the room outside the terrarium, adding its silver to the colorful lights adorning the plant and the lamplight above my home, the girl came to the glass wall and looked at me. She was dressed in elegant clothes full of frills and laces. Her eyes shone and she stared softly at how I, obeying an impulse of unexpected joy, waved to her with my webbed foot from the bottom. What a lovely creature she was! She smiled and suddenly told me:
— I know who you really are!
My mood felt suddenly stiffened. “I know who you REALLY are?” I was at first confused, but this soon gave way to annoyance.What nonsense! I had supposed that she was probably smart, but why had she spoken such foolishness? I knew who was I too and didn't need her to tell me. However, she continued.
— You are a beautiful prince. Or maybe a princess. Aren't you? You are so cute that you cannot be just a little frog! And tonight is the best time of the year to dispel bad magic and return your real image to you!


I was so astonished that I even stopped moving my foot, which now had begun to seem clumsy and almost deformed. If I am really so noble, what should I do with it? After all, my splayed feet now stood in the way of my majesty, right? I could have chuckled, but frogs can only croak. Besides, I was the only frog in the terrarium and there was nobody to be my consort. On the other hand, maybe I’m a snail’s prince? — I asked myself. My round eyes became more rotund with the amazement. I stared at my tiny neighbors for a few moments, but they just crawled on the glass and remained silent. The girl triumphantly got the nettle and submerged it. Oh, no — the sirens went off in me — she was going to pluck me out of my home!!!
— I know what I have to do to turn your to a human! — She said, huffing and puffing while I did my best to hide from the nettle among the plants at the bottom, but that terrible thing followed me! I made a desperate leap up to the surface and, as fate would have it, plopped right into the sunny island of her palm. Having spent my whole life in chilly water, the sudden blanket of her hand felt hot and dry. She squeezed me gently but firmly when I tried to escape, and my elongated feet protruded, comically I suppose, from her unwavering grasp.
— Don’t be afraid, I’ll just kiss you, — the words came gushing from her mouth that seemed so big, her young lips pursed just near my dazed head.
“No, please, let me go! — I cried. — I don’t want to turn to a human, what a nightmare!”
— What are you doing, darling? — an adult's voice inquired of the girl.
— I’m dispelling the spell from our frog! — She exclaimed triumphantly. She sounded positively sonorous.


— Oh, that’s wonderful! Are you going to kiss it? But what you are expecting to get as a result? — I heard the smile in the voice, but it was not funny for me!
— Of course, a prince or a princess. — The girl didn’t have any doubts.
— Hmmm, sunny, but what if this nice animal turns into a big angry crocodile? I don’t want to share our home with a monster. It might gobble us up!
— No, it does not happen like that, — the girl said thoughtfully. — Tonight is the good time when the kind miracles occur.
And she touched my cold head with her toasty lips.
Then she held out her fist — with me in bondage within it — out in front of her for all to see. My legs dangled in the air.
She stared at me intently.
And I stared at her.
— Come on, come on, transform! — She said.
But I did not.
Time sounded a wonderful gong that perhaps only I could hear. Then nothing continued to happen! Nothing changed.
What a happiness that I was not a crocodile. And was not a human. However, the girl started to sob.
— Oh, dear, — one of the adult’s voices intoned gently, — release the poor frog into the water. — After a moment the same patient voice, as if having carefully measured out the meaning of something very important, added. — I’m so glad that it is not really a creepy beast. Your kiss tonight is magic; it removes the covers of lies from everything. So now, we can see the true face of this wonderful creature. It is a frog! One little sweet amphibian. Let's come to me, you can help me decorate the table with candles. Gift time is coming soon!


Splashing into the water, the tender coolness of my own environment caressed me all around. My yellow friends the snails welcomingly waved their horns and I lay down again on the bottom between the familiar water plants. When my heart calmed down, I caught a thought. It was not really so horrible — her kiss. I just was scared. However, now I have understood the truth: what I am is really what I am, I am not a mistake. I do not need, not even under the pressure of a sweet kiss, to change form, saddle a horse and slay dragons.


This revelation seemed a great pleasure for me.
So this was my New Year’s gift. And maybe I AM a prince of sorts. What do you think? After all, it turned out that I am noble enough to receive a gift from someone whose well-intended but misguided kiss, rather than changing me, made me prouder of who I really am! Was this gift what Humans call Self-Respect?

===khankann===

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