The Toad Queen

This story is inspired by the following beautiful artwork created by:

“Toad Queen” @LisaLaroseArt

A nobody. That is what I was when I first met the Master.

I believed I was a nobody because they told me that. I was not a stealthy cobra, or a regal bird of prey. I was a toad. Warts and all.

Because I believed them, I didn’t even try to appear before the Master when he was selecting a ruler for his Animal Kingdoms. I was sure that the one appointed to oversee the land would be someone much more elegant than I.

The memory made my silk white collar feel too tight. I ran my webbed hand down the red velvet skirts of my favorite dress. I frowned so my eye ridges wrinkled together and one of my warts bumped my golden crown askew.

The Master, he was the first to mention I was a somebody. I found him, tossing stones into the brown waters of my favorite watering hole. I watched him for a while, and I decided he looked quite perplexed.

“Your Excellency seems troubled.” I tried to say as clearly and proper as I could. It came out as a croak, to my dismay.

“I am.” He replied. Not even phased that a lowly Toad had just initiated a conversation with him.

“What troubles you?” his arm paused mid-throw, he looked at me and dropped the stone. I gulped when he crossed the distance between us and seated himself on the log beside me.

He looked down at me with thoughtful brown eyes. “I have spent the last three days watching the best and the brightest of the animal Kingdoms parade themselves before me.”

I croaked in acknowledgement, and then I snatched a mosquito that was looking for a tasty bite of the Master.

“They do love to preen and strut, don’t they?”

He laughed. The Master laughed at a joke I made.

“They do not seem to understand the purpose of a ruler for the Animal Kingdoms.”

“They did not meet your expectations then?”

“Is there not one who would care for their neighbors? Who would seek to maintain order among my creation?”

“How about the owl, he is very wise.”

“Scholars often lack the ability to relate.”

“The deer, she us very sensitive.”

“But easily manipulated.”

“The badger, quite strict, but not a micromanager.”

I snagged a few more flies from around my Master’s head, and I stopped when I saw his intense stare.

“What about you?” He asked.

“What about me?”

“You would make a fine Queen.”

I croaked again, “but I am a nobody.”

“You are not a nobody. You are Emeraldine Quicktongue.”

“You know my name?”

“Of course, you are after all one of my creation.”

“What could I do for you?”

At that point he only winked and jumped from the log. He gestured for me to follow. So I leapt after him.

“You asked me what troubled me. I am troubled that not one has the perspective needed to rule. Not one understands my creation with the clarity you just demonstrated.”

Now I stood on a pedestal in the Hall of the Animal Kingdoms. Before me was a small boy with bloodshot eyes and a snotty nose. His brown hair fell in thick strands across his eyes, with a red cap with a bill like a duck on it sticking out from his brow. He was small, but the same shape as my Master.

On his little legs were trousers of blue cloth that had holes in the knees, with frayed tendrils hanging down. He sniffed and wiped the snot from his nose on his shirt sleeve.

“Who is he?” I asked. Pitying the poor boy that had been herded into the throne room by a crowd of badgers and minks.

“Who?” asked the badger, “don’t you mean what?”

“He looks like a monkey, but he doesn’t smell like any monkey I’ve ever sniffed.” Commented the mink.

“He is a nobody.” Hissed the snake. “be rid of him.”

I narrowed my eyes at the garter snake. He was harmless compared to his cousins but I don’t trust anything that slithers.

“He is a something and he is a somebody.” I stated.

I squinted at him again, and the poor boy seemed to shrink under my gaze. It was laughable, I am but a hands breadth high, and he shrunk beneath my gaze.

“Send him to the owl.” I said. The owl would have an inclination as to who the boy was and where he may have come from.

The boy turned as the badgers snarled and poked at him. He looked so much like the Master, but that was preposterous. The Master was the only one of his kind. I wished I could ask, but the Master was away from his Kingdom and had left me in charge.

What would the Master do in this situation? I’m sure he would agree,  this untidy character before me was a somebody. He would say his name, he always knew everyone’s name.

I croaked, I have been practicing my Master’s language but it still felt awkward. Still in croaks and squeaks I got the question out.

“What are you?”

The young creature turned and looked at her with wide eyes. His small mouth opened and one word came out, “Sonny.”

The mink lost patience and pressed against Sonny’s leg with his paws. When he was gone I turned and looked through the window behind my throne. The sun was setting behind the estate of my master. What was a Sonny? Who was a Sonny?

I knew his name now, but still I didn’t know who he was. I curled my webbed hands into fists and anchored them on my hips. I would have find a way to learn who, or what, a Sonny was.

© 2021 All Rights Reserved J. B. Wagner

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