To the Meadow’s Edge
by A. R. Norris
Trickling water, rustling leaves, and a frog’s croak woke me from slumber. Opening my eyes, I saw blue, bluer than any crayon, marker, or paint could make. A dusting of clouds kept it from perfection.
Sitting up from the soft grass, I found myself in the center of a meadow. Evergreens stood in the near distance, as though on guard. At my feet, a shallow stream meandered by like a serpent.
“This isn’t where I started,” I said aloud.
“Where did you then?”
I looked back. A tall frogman had startled me. Cautiously, I stood and turned. With a stiff posture, his diamond-shaped face held two opaque eyes and translucent eyelids. He wore a plaid vest of tweed with a gold chain looped at the chest pocket. There were no pants, but he did have on brown dress shoes with pennies tucked into the tops. His right arm rested on the brown handle of a tall blue umbrella, the left cuffed the vest’s side pocket.
“What are you?” I asked, shocked.
The frogman’s eyes narrowed and he gave a haughty huff. “That’s not a proper way to seek an introduction.”
“You’re a dressed, standing frog,” I stammered.
“And you are a human, albeit a rude one,” he retorted.
In a wide gesture, he flailed the umbrella. I stepped back for safety. The frogman tisked and his tongue flicked.
“No matter, no matter. You have arrived. We have important things to see to.” The creature offered his hand in greeting. “I am Peter Frog, your meadow guide.”
It took a moment’s hesitation before I could muster the courage to take his proffered hand. “Georgia Rissman.”
He smiled, near splitting his face in half, and dipped his head. “Very well. Come along.”
“Where am I?” I asked.
“In a meadow, silly.” He croaked out a laugh.
The stream seemed to guide us. Looking into the creek, I spotted a small fish seeming to pace itself with us. I slowed down, then stopped. The fish also stopped, rotating its little fins to stay in place. Its beady eyes seemed focused on me.
Peter stooped and tried to poke it with the tip of his umbrella. The fish wiggled, diverting the mild assault.
“A relief, though not as big as I’d hoped. It will make the trip harder for you.” Peter ceased his attempts on the fish.
Curious, I eyed him and the fish again before asking, “What do you mean?”
Straightening, he yanked at his vest in a brisk manner, tugging and smoothing it until he was satisfied. “Fish are only as smart as the knowledge they are connected to, my dear.” He pointed from the fish to me. “This is your fish.”
“Okay,” I murmured in disbelief. “So, the fish represents my knowledge?”
“Well, yes my dear friend,” he affirmed as if it were obvious. “Come along, we have him with us now.”
I eyed my fish, wondering what to think. But the day was warm with a breeze and I found myself comfortable with my new companions. The walk was peaceful; I hadn’t done enough lately. The demands of work, grown kids, there just wasn’t enough time, it seemed.
Plucky animal noises caught my attention. Several feet away, across the creek, an otter chattered at a turtle. The furry arms gestured in a conversing manner. The turtle tilt his head to the side, as if intently understanding the other.
“Is that turtle over there listening to the otter?”
Peter shrugged and stopped to watch along with me. “I would assume so. That’s what one does when spoken to.”
I rolled my eyes. “I’ve never seen an otter chitchat with a turtle, or at all for that matter.”
The frog puffed out his chest, offended by my cavalier attitude. “I don’t even know why your fish even bothered to show up, Georgia. Really!”
Gesturing, he gave what must be a rational explanation in the meadow. “It is actually a good sign: creative planning is speaking with joyous mischief.”
I had nothing to say to this. We quickly headed onward again. I wondered what all of it might mean. We neared the meadow’s edge. Two paths veered in separate directions.
I smiled. “Okay, so the paths represent life choices I made, right?”
Confused, Peter scrunched his eyes and tilted his head sideways. “Whatever are you talking about? These are ahead of you, not behind you like the choices you made in life. What a silly human you are, Georgia.”
Blushing, I looked again towards the paths. Peter pointed to an old blistering sign. Its shape was etched into a left-facing arrow and held no information. We looked with anticipation at each other, his expression calming and mine quizzical. I lost my patience first.
“Okay, now what?” I motioned to the sign.
He sighed and shook his head in obvious disappointment. “You are to go down a path.”
“Why? What kind of dream is this?”
Peter eyed the paths. “This is not a dream, Georgia. This is life or death.”
This is not a dream. The comment repeating in my head, the first couple of times I couldn’t believe it. However, as I looked down the paths and at Peter I could feel it. This is not a dream.
My heart spiked, hands trembled. I looked at both paths, at the sign, back at him. “The sign only points to the left but doesn’t state where it leads. The right has nothing. I can’t decide based on this.”
“Why?” Peter asked. I refused to answer. “Does the sign have to tell you? It’s pointing the way; isn’t that enough?”
Fear built inside. “What if it’s...?”
“Georgia dear, if you aren’t prepared by now, at this moment ” he flourished his hands in no particular direction — “well, you’ll never be prepared and it wouldn’t matter anyways.”
“I’m scared,” I admitted.
In sadness and comfort, he smiled and touched my arm. “You have to show belief in fate, my dear. The destination is already decided. You just have to choose whether to follow with faith and courage, or fear and trepidation.”
Memories, so many of them, yet not enough. I wanted more. Looking at the paths, I understood the choice was out of my hands. In all reality, it was never there to begin with, just an illusion of control.
I wiped the tears and prepared to face wherever the path led. The sign would have to be enough; it was all I was getting. I turned to my walking companion and nodded, then took the left path into the forest. A butterfly flitted by and disappeared in the shadows.
Copyright © 2010 by A. R. Norris