"Last week, she bought a pink tutu from Madame Beaudel the pussycat. Beaudel, all fishnets and lipgloss, laughed quietly and lit a cigarette as she watched Mrs Toad hop awkwardly back to her lakeside cove."
Mrs Toad wants to be a ballet dancer but is, by her nature, ugly. Mr Otter the surgeon has refused to work on her no less that seven times:
“Insert feathers into that skin? A beak? You’ve got a family, Mrs Toad. A wonderful husband. Go home and be thankful.”
“But I want to be beautiful,” she implores him.
“You’re a toad,” he always replies.
Back at home, she glumly watches the swans dance across the lake. Last week, she bought a pink tutu from Madame Beaudel the pussycat. Beaudel, all fishnets and lipgloss, laughed quietly and lit a cigarette as she watched Mrs Toad hop awkwardly back to her lakeside cove.
The dress is still in its wrapping. Mrs Toad lacks the courage to squeeze her slimy green body into its pink frills. She knows people will laugh at her but she just wants to know what it feels like to be graceful and beautiful.
She stares angrily at her gelatinous spawn, wishing she laid more solid eggs, wishing they’d hatch into something graceful and pleasing to the eye. Her mother had been the same before her, had wasted no time in telling Mrs Toad what she thought of her:
“You’re ugly by a toad’s standards,” she’d said. “You’ll never marry.”
But she had married. Okay, so her husband was a bit warty but she’d given up on the idea of finding a deviant swan long ago. But she could never give up her dream of becoming a dancer. Why should she? Even fish dance, shimmering beneath the water – so why shouldn’t a toad?
She gently prizes the lid off the box next to her. Until today, just the knowledge that Beaudel’s tutu was inside had been enough to calm her. But today, she wants to try it on. Today, she wants to dance.
“What is that?” Her husband is back. “Have you taken leave of your senses?”
“It’s a tutu,” she says quietly, shame and embarrassment edging into her voice.
“I can see what it is. Get rid of it before you make the whole family a laughing stock.”
“I just wanted to try it on,”
“You’re a toad. Toad’s don’t wear tutus.”
“But why not? Why shouldn’t we?”
“Have you looked in the mirror recently?” Angrily, he grabs her tutu and shreds it, piece by piece by piece, flinging the tatters at her as he does so.
“Toads don’t dance,” he says gruffly. “Especially not ones as ugly as you.” With that, he hops away leaving Mrs Toad to weep silently.
Mr Maggot sits on his rock directly above Mrs Toad’s cove and watches the sun as it glistens and creates rainbows on the toadspawn. Sparkling lights play tricks as the water gently rocks back and forth. He lifts his head up and turns towards Mrs Toad, who sits glumly on a throne of shredded pink tutu. As the light bounces from her glistening, moist skin, she looks likes she’s swaying gently, rythmically, in time with the wind and the sunshine. Mr Maggot feels a jealous shadow of her. He longs to be with her. Could he ever dance like this beauty before him? As if she’s reading his mind, she turns to him and puckers her lips. His heart quivers, throbs, pounds. She wants him! Her tongue darts towards him and for one glorious moment she has him, she’s holding him and caressing him, sending shivers through his grub body.
“Take me!” he wants to scream. But he can’t. Not anymore.
Mrs Toad chews her lunch and stares out to the swans that glide across the lake in the fading sunlight. She wonders if there’s ever been a creature more envious than she as she watches the swan dancers ruffle white feathers. Pirouette. Beauty, she tells herself; and she longs.
*[I’d completely forgotten I’d written this (I just found it in an old archive writing folder). I wrote it about 16 years ago when I was doing a creative writing MA, it was one of my weekly assignments, to write a fable or parable. Very short and probably a bit weird but I’ve always been strangely fond of it… so here it is. Make of it what you will…]