This retelling of “The Frog Prince” by Skipper beautifully presents the theme of redemption.
The biting wind lashed against her cheek, whipping her long, dark hair into a frenzy. Part of her longed for the warmth and comfort of her bed, but she knew she must press on. She spared one last look for the tiny room where she spent most of her life. It was so tempting to simply go back to her small but warm bed, where she would be safe! But Vanda steeled her resolve, wound the linens about her dainty hands and tugged on them, assuring they would hold her on her descent down the castle tower.
Resisting the urge to look down, Vanda descended. She flailed in the air for one dire moment until she was able to gain her footing. Her chest heaved and her pulse thundered in her ears. After she readjusted the linens in her hands, she continued going down the side of the tower. Vanda found herself repelling in rhythm eventually, despite her racing heart.
But then, her foot slipped and she gasped. Vanda plummeted in the night sky. Air screamed past her ears. She fought to regain her footing. With a jolt, she finally grasped the linens and clung to them for dear life, halting her drop. Tears stung Vanda’s eyes as she dangled in the air, her raw hands burning from the sensation of the linens tearing her flesh. Carefully, she tugged, swaying in the air until her feet held steady against the tower. She found her rhythm again, this time using more caution than she had before.
Four feet off the ground, Vanda released the linens and dropped. Her legs jarred at the impact. She quickly brushed off the searing pain and urged them to move.
She glanced at the old castle that had been her home, her prison, for one last time. “Iesus (Yee-sus), please help me escape! I can’t live this way anymore…”
As another shiver shuddered down her spine, Vanda escaped into the brooding forest beyond. Desperation and fear drove her onwards. She ran with everything in her. The moment he discovered her missing, her uncle would track her down with his hunting dogs. If they caught her, they would drag her back to the castle, where she would be severely punished and locked in her room again.
Vanda’s side cramped, her legs ached, her breath whistled painfully in her lungs. Stumbling from exhaustion, she struggled to her feet and pressed on. Her confidence dwindling, Vanda had one consolation – she knew everyone would be too drunk from their partying to notice her missing.
As she ran, Vanda recalled reading about a river to the east of the castle. Not familiar with the area, she headed in the direction she hoped was east. The only thought she focused on was getting to the river.
In addition to being shaky from her escape down the tower, the night air bit at Vanda’s nose. She blinked rapidly and pumped her legs faster, fighting against the heaviness weighing down her eyelids and dragging at her legs. Her chest burned with exertion.
In the distance, Vanda perceived trickling and gurgling sounds that alerted her to the nearness of the river. She hastened her pace with renewed vigor. As trees fanned out, she saw the river in the near distance. This was not a docile river, as she had hoped, but a raging torrent, swollen with snow melt and late spring rains. Vanda trembled, knowing she was a terrible swimmer.
Fear clouded her mind. Vanda closed her eyes and bit her lip in indecision. Should she risk drowning in the raging waters below, or should she just give up and accept her fate? Her heart raced and adrenaline pumped through her veins again. She remembered all the times she had begged her uncle to allow her out of her room; all the birthdays she spent alone, in isolation, with only books as her company; all the times she spent staring out her window, wishing she could leave her tower prison; all the times she’d been made to sing and dance in front of her uncle’s boorish guests; all those lonely nights, crying and missing her dead father. She knew deep down she had to escape, even if it killed her.
A branch snapped in the forest behind her. Vanda wildly tossed a look over her shoulder, praying her uncle was still drunk at the castle. Breathing deeply, she prayed Iesus would steady her.
With one last look to the forest, she cast herself into the deluge below.
The frigid waters rushed up to meet Vanda. The vicious current swept her downriver, flooding her eyes, her nose, her mouth. She no longer knew up from down. Panic buzzed in her mind.
A change in the current thrust her head above water. Greedily, she gulped in the air.
“Iesus, help me! Please, help-” she coughed. The river shoved her under again.
In desperation, Vanda pushed off the stony river-bottom, which was quite a feat, as her soggy skirt weighed her down and tangled in her legs. Finally, her head broke the surface of the water. “Help!” she spluttered.
She noticed boulders jutting out of the water just as the river dragged her back under. A sudden change in the current slammed her into one of them. Her vision swimming, Vanda succumbed to unconsciousness.
The next thing Vanda knew, sunlight streamed from an unknown source above her and sunbeams danced upon the walls around her. Outside, birds chirped merrily.
“Good. You’re awake,” a deep, gravelly voice croaked.
“Mmmmm? How long have I been asleep?” Vanda yawned, her eyes opening. Sleepily, she sat up, her body groaning in protest.
She cast her eyes about her blearily. Vanda was in some kind of dome-shaped mud hut. A fireplace on the back wall, a small kitchenette on another, the only door at its front, and the straw-tick mattress she was resting on, opposite the kitchenette. In the center of the hut was a sturdy oak table and two chairs, one at each end. She looked up and saw some high windows had been opened to let the morning sun in.
“You’ve been unconscious over a week,” the voice replied, breaking into Vanda’s thoughts.
“Oh, that’s an awful long time,” she mumbled, squinting at the sunshine streaming through the windows.
“Yes, but after your dunk in the river, you were in terrible condition. It’s a miracle you even survived, let alone recovered so well in that time.”
At first, Vanda hadn’t noticed the voice speaking to her was not human. Slowly, her brain registered that it was something altogether different. A peculiar being stared at her from the head of the table. Her eyes darted back to it. She screamed.
“Stay away from me, foul fiend!” she painfully scrambled away from the being, pressing herself against the wall.
The creature brought the back of its hand to its dappled green and brown forehead. “Is that really necessary? You didn’t have to use alliteration…” it grumbled.
Vanda feebly lifted her arms to protect herself. “Please don’t hurt me! I’m an orphan.”
“Yeah, that’s what they all say,” it harrumphed, sliding its chair back to stand up. “Why do they always insist that the creatures who saved them are going to hurt them?” It stalked to the kitchenette and began chopping vegetables. Every so often it lumbered over to the pot on the fire, tossing the veggies in.
Shyly, Vanda peeked at him. “You’re- you’re not going to hurt me?”
Turning to her, the creature, whom Vanda had decided was a frogman, rolled his eyes, swiping his freakishly long tongue over them. He went back to tending the vegetables. “Of course not! Why would I do that after I saved you and nursed you back to health for over a week? I may not be human, but that doesn’t make me a monster!”
“What- no, who- are you?” Vanda shuddered upon seeing him lick his eyes. His… Stormy green eyes. Similar to the rare stormy green color of her own eyes…
“My name and who I am matter not, fata frumoasa (fah-tha fru-mo-ah-sah),” he turned on her, brandishing his knife. “I am a beast, only living to be killed, no matter what I say or do. My existence is entirely determined by those who would gladly kill me because I am different from them.”
Instantly forgetting that similarity between them, Vanda buried herself under the covers. “I’m sorry! I won’t bring it up again,” came her muffled cry.
“No worries, fata insensibil (in-sen-sih-ble). I won’t hurt you because of your stupidity. You’re forgiven, the frogman sighed, returning to his task at hand.
“I’m not a fata insensibil,” Vanda sulked after a moment, emerging from the covers.
The frogman shrugged his broad shoulders and finished the preparation for their supper. He trudged over to the chair and sat down at the table. “Only an insensitive girl would say that.” he yawned. “Either way, it matters not.”
Vanda crossed her arms and pouted. After a short while, she realized how ridiculous she probably looked, so she quickly unfolded her arms and rested her head against the wall. A sigh escaped her lips.
The frogman ribbited and half-opened one large, bulbous eye to stare at her.
Tears threatened to spill from Vanda’s eyes, and she desperately pressed her palms into them. The more she tried to suppress her emotions, the stronger they became. She wished her father were here. He would know what to do! With that thought, her emotional wall broke and sobs escaped her. Frogman sat back and watched her, intrigued.
As she cried, the frogman quietly got up and poured some warm stew from the pot into a little wooden bowl. He patiently waited by the straw-tick until Vanda’s crying spell had subsided. Gently lowering himself onto the mattress, he carefully placed the bowl into her hands.
“Here, have some. It will make you feel better,” he rumbled. “I am Garridan (Gare-ih-dan).”
Vanda shifted away a bit from Garridan, being careful to not spill the stew. Through a teary smile, she said, “Thank you, Garridan. My name is Vanda.”
Garridan ribbited, something unknown stirring in his eyes. “Ah, ‘wanderer’. What an interesting name!”
“You are familiar with the etymology of words?” she daintily nibbled at the stew, noting the scrumptious flavors that danced upon her tongue. Not many people were interested in etymology. Why was this frogman an exception?
Garridan took on a far-away look. “That I am. I used to be great once…”
Vanda discreetly surveyed him. “You ‘used to be great’?”
“That was a long while ago…” he shifted uncomfortably.
“Your name- ‘Garridan’. It means ‘one who keeps secrets inside himself’.
Coldness oozed from Garridan’s voice. “It’s none of your concern.”
After a few awkward moments, Garridan stood up and plodded to the hearth to stoke the fire. Relishing the warmth of the stew the frogman had given her, Vanda wondered about her situation and the peculiar creature who saved her. Her head still pounded and her body still ached, but she no longer felt so desolate. Swallowing the last of the stew, she quietly thanked Iesus for His loving kindness to her. Sensing she was done, Garridan wordlessly offered her more stew, which she graciously accepted.
As she ate, Vanda thought about the frogman. Her studies about names, cultures, and words led her to believe that he chose his name to be Garridan, but why? What secrets was he hiding inside himself?
She had scarcely finished her second serving of stew when Garridan stiffened, causing her to jump and her heart to hammer in her chest painfully. She forced herself to not shrink away from him.
“Did you hear that?” his buccal sac vibrated.
“H-h-hear what?” she trembled.
“Shhhh!” Garridan bounced across the room, vaulting into the air with his strong frog-like legs to get a good look though the high windows.
“W-w-what is it?” Fear rose inside Vanda. She drew the blankets closer around her shoulders subconsciously.
Garridan launched back to her. “Someone’s coming!” He croaked. “The ground’s vibrating enough for a small army out there.”
Vanda blanched. “Crumpets!”
The frogman circled her suspiciously. “What is that supposed to mean?” Poor Vanda shrank back from him as he leaned closer to her. “What. Did. You. Mean?”
“Lord Omor, my uncle, is after me!” she cried, once again shielding her face with her arms.
“That’s just great!” He groaned. “Your uncle just had to be my- Oh, never mind!”
Suddenly, Garridan whirled around and faced a terrified Vanda. “Are you able to walk?”
“I-I think so…” she whimpered.
“Here! Eat these herbs,” quickly, Garridan grabbed some strong-smelling leaves and thrust them at her. “They will give you strength and numb any pain you have.”
Vanda shoved the herbs into her mouth, biting back against their acrid, musty tang. Warmth surged through her, and her trembling ceased.
Dogs howled in the distance.
“Are you ready?” the frogman croaked.
Vanda nodded her head.
“Good. Come with me,” he held his hand out for her.
Without a second thought, she took his outstretched hand as he hoisted her up. He held a long finger to his lips, signaling for Vanda to be silent. Tiptoeing, Garridan led her to the oak table, gestured for her to wait there, then hopped to the fireplace. Vanda rested her hand on the table to steady herself. She watched in fascination as the frogman thrust his foot onto a stone on the hearth and pushed masonry on the opening of the fireplace simultaneously. The ground vibrated as what appeared to be solid flooring underneath the table slid away, revealing a gaping hole. Vanda’s jaw dropped.
Garridan hopped back to her and tapped her shoulder lightly. She jumped.
“Get in,” he pointed at the hole in the ground.
Vanda dropped to her knees and crawled to the opening. She gave the frogman a questioning look, which he answered with a grunt. For a moment, she hesitated, asking Iesus what to do, then jumped in. After all, her uncle was after her, and this beast was clearly trying to protect her. There wasn’t much more she could lose.
Once she landed in the shaft, Vanda shuffled to one side, giving Garridan enough room to jump down after her.
Just when the darkness threatened to overcome her, Garridan dropped into the shaft. He carried with him a large branch with fabric wrapped around the end, a satchel of supplies, and a warm cloak for Vanda, who was shivering. He handed the cloak to her and she appreciatively put it on as he plopped the other things on the ground next to her.
“My- err- your uncle and his men are almost here,” he muttered, lighting a fire on the branch.
Vanda moaned, closing her eyes.
“Hold this,” the frogman handed her the torch. She complied, determined to hold it steady.
Garridan retreated to just below the opening of the hole and stomped on the ground. Something in the earth around them clicked. Then, he rocketed into the air, and pushed something on the tunnel’s ceiling. The earth rumbled and the hut’s floor slid back into place. Shyly, Vanda handed him the torch, and he pushed his way in front of her.
“Come. It will take those dimwits a while to figure out how to open the secret passageway.” He picked up the satchel and slung it over his shoulder.
Seeing as Vanda was kind of shaky, but able to walk, Garridan led the way down the dark tunnel. Not wishing to be left alone down there, Vanda hiked up her skirt and bustled after him.
For a while, they journeyed in silence, Garridan leading the way, and Vanda stumbling after him. Every so often, Vanda shivered and clutched her borrowed cloak closer to herself. The darkness and coldness of the tunnel numbed her from feelings of fear and repulsion towards the beast leading her. She shoved down all thoughts from her mind besides putting one foot in front of the other. Garridan periodically checked on her to make sure she was still following him, often with that look Vanda couldn’t recognize in his eyes.
Soon, they arrived at forks in the tunnel.
“Stay close to me. These tunnels are going to get more confusing, and it wouldn’t do for you to get lost.” Garridan wore a grim expression upon his face.
“Very well,” Vanda mumbled.
Perceiving her weariness, he answered her unspoken question. “We’re going to rest soon. These tunnels go all the way to the Nadejde (NUH-dush-deh) Mountains, but we’ll stop at the cavern first.”
Vanda nodded her head in agreement. Garridan led her down the right fork in the tunnel. Once again, her head pounded and her vision swam, causing Vanda to hold onto his cloak so she wouldn’t lose him. Briefly, the frogman turned around, surprised that Vanda had voluntarily grabbed onto something of his. His buccal sack swelled and he quickly brushed a webbed hand against his eyes. Vanda looked up, noticing that he had stopped, and furrowed a brow at his strange behavior. But before she could ask him about it, he quickened his pace, muttering under his breath something about cave dust getting in eyes.
Shortly after that, they trudged down another tunnel and entered a grand cavern bristling with stalactites and stalagmites. Water dripped from an unknown source and lapped at the shore of a vast reservoir. Bioluminescent fungi adorned the cavern, giving it a soft unearthly yet comforting glow. Her eyes widened in wonder.
Garridan ushered Vanda to a large stalagmite by the grotto, where she sank onto the ground. He tossed the satchel onto the floor and settled across from her, still holding the torch.
“How are you faring?” he swiped his tongue over his eyes nonchalantly, concern leaking through his voice.
“Well as can be expected,” came her muted reply.
He opened the satchel and rifled through it. “Here.” He handed her some preserved fish and more herbs. “You must be hungry, and the herbs you ate earlier are wearing off.”
Vanda accepted them, too spent to care when her hands brushed his.
As she ate, Garridan spoke. “This world doesn’t look very kindly on beasts like me. I built my hut over these tunnels to offer a quick escape should humans discover my existence.”
Guilt and shame drenched Vanda. “You’ve been living peacefully in this land for a long while, and your peace has been ruined because you took a risk and saved me.” She swallowed the last of the food.
Garridan said nothing.
Without thinking, Vanda leaned forward and placed her hand on Garridan’s knee, surprising both her and him with her act of sympathy. “Thank you,” she whispered, overcome by emotion.
Realizing what she did, Vanda quickly retracted her hand, blushing.
“If I had to save you again, even with all the danger involved, I still would…” he refused to look her in the eye.
“Would you like to talk about it?” she peeked at him through her thick eyelashes, scolding herself for feeling touched by his words. His face was an odd mixture of uneasiness, betrayal, and pain. Something was bothering him. She could tell be the way he spoke and the expression on his face.
“Este interzis (Es-tuh inter-ZEES),” Garridan mumbled, leaning away from her.
“Excuse me?” Vanda frowned.
“It is prohibited!” his voice cracked with his exclamation.
Vanda huffed. Trying to talk to the frogman was futile, so she leaned against the stalagmite and closed her eyes. What a peculiar creature the frogman was! Every time she brought up his past, he became so- so- Vanda tried to grasp the right word- retras! Whatever! She wasn’t going to talk to him anymore. Instead, she planned on resting until Garridan told her they needed to go.
Then, she heard some scuffling in front of her and watched him through half-closed eyes. Garridan had slid closer to her, looking truly apologetic. “You were upset earlier. Would you like to talk about it?”
At first, Vanda was incredulous. He didn’t want to talk about his past, but he wanted her to? But as she searched his face, she saw his pain and sincerity. So she closed her eyes again and sighed. “I suppose so.”
Thus began the story about her lonely childhood after her father died; her childhood under her cruel uncle who arranged her engagement to a boorish prince; her escape from the castle tower; her run through the woods; and her near-drowning in the river.
“You see,” she finished lamely. “I needed to escape the castle, or I surely would have died of loneliness.”
As Vanda watched him, Garridan thoughtfully studied the cavern’s ceiling. “You were very brave to escape your uncle,” he said at last, voice thick with emotion. “I’m sorry for how I treated you earlier.”
Vanda dipped her head. This frogman was obviously kinder than she first thought. “I forgive you.”
After another brief silence, Garridan stood up and shook himself off, as if he were trying to shake off some bad thoughts. “It’s time to go. Lord Omor and his troops might not be following us right now, but we still need to keep our head start over them.” He helped Vanda to her feet and she brushed off her travelling blouse.
“I couldn’t agree more,” she smiled at him.
Having rested and eaten a little bit, Vanda felt strength surging through her body. For the first time since her escape just the day before, she felt truly at peace, as if everything was going to turn out okay.
She and Garridan skirted around the edge of the underground lake and trod down the tunnel. The rest of the time, they traveled in silence. Only once did they stop for Garridan to relight the torch with animal fat. The tunnel gradually sloped upwards as they traveled.
In a short while, late afternoon sunlight streamed through the shaft entrance ahead of them. Once they got there, Garridan paused. “There’s a fallen tree guarding this entrance, and the land outside is rocky. Watch your step and follow my lead.” he cautioned her and blew out the torch, leaving it in the tunnel.
The frogman strode forward and ducked under the fallen tree. Once he was outside, he waited for Vanda. She followed close behind him, mimicking his movements and blinking against the sudden brightness.
The tunnel entrance was situated on the side of a rocky downslope with lots of loose pebbles and rocks. Since he was accustomed to traversing these cliffs, Garridan gently took Vanda’s hand and escorted her down the ravine.
As soon as they came out the other side, Vanda turned to her protector. “What are we going to do, Garridan?”
He faced her. “There’s a small cottage nearby where we can take shelter. An older lady by the name of Lacrima (La-creem-ah) lives there. She will help us.”
Another odd name! Vanda thought, amused. An older lady who goes by the name “teardrop”. Tickled by that thought, she chuckled and dropped into a curtsy. “Lead on, my good man!”
Garridan grinned, blinking back tears, which Vanda noticed this time and filed away in the back of her mind. “Right away, tanara femeie (ta-nar-AH fem-AY-eye)!”
They hurried along the side of the green Nadejde Mountains. As they journeyed, Vanda noted the sound of roaring water that seemed to grow louder the further they hiked.
In a few moments, they crested a rise and were met with the gorgeous view- a waterfall cascading down the side of a rocky cliff, plummeting into the pond below. Huddled by the side of the mountain was a small cabin, its roof made of vibrant grasses. Though the waterfall thundered and the birds chirped, an uneasy stillness lingered in the air. Garridan sensed it, but Vanda did not. She stepped forward.
“Is this Lacrima’s cottage?” She ventured. “It’s adorable.”
Garridan ribbited and leaped, getting in front of her. “Vanda, wait a moment.”
She frowned, detecting the strain in the frogman’s voice. “Why? What is it?”
Surveying the landscape, he muttered, “Something’s wrong. Wait here.”
“I’m not letting you go into the unknown by yourself. I’m coming with you.” Vanda retorted, arms crossed. The frogman had done so much for her. Now it was her time to return the favor.
Garridan turned, about to argue, but Vanda’s determined facial expression and tense body language changed his mind. He could sense the futility in trying to stop her.
“Fine,” he sighed and rifled through the satchel, pulling out a slingshot and holding it out to her. It was clear that by letting her come with him, Garridan was going against his better judgement. “I want you to take this.”
Vanda broke out in a sweat. She had no experience with slingshots. “B-but what about you? Won’t you need it?”
“Don’t worry about me- I have a dagger.”
“O-okay,” taking the slingshot, Vanda fastened it to her skirt’s waistband. “Thank you.”
Garridan grunted in acknowledgment.
‘Iesus, help us,’ Vanda gulped.
Together, they crept up the slope and peered inside the cabin’s windows. The cabin was quiet and dark, but tidy.
“Lacrima’s not home. She must be out gathering herbs,” Garridan mumbled.
He nodded his head for Vanda to follow him around the side of the cabin. Vanda’s heart thumped in her chest. Suddenly, something rustled in the bushes. They both tensed, waiting for someone to leap out at them. Just then, a grouse darted out of the undergrowth, squawking its displeasure. Both of them sighed in relief. After that, they noticed nothing amiss in their immediate vicinity.
“Do you still sense something’s off?” Vanda inquired.
“Yes, but I can’t quite place it,” he stated.
“Well, you must have a good reason for feeling uneasy. I’ll examine inside the cabin more closely for any signs. Maybe you can check outside?”
“De acord. I’ll return in ten minutes.” He let her go, albeit reluctantly.
They split up. Garridan, examining the cabin’s perimeter, headed to the waterfall nearby. As he did so, Vanda began her search inside the cabin.
Soon, she noticed stairs in the corner of the room leading to a cellar. She descended the stairs with a sense of foreboding chilling her heart, aware that someone could be lurking. Cautiously, she took the slingshot from her waistband, loaded it, and swung it about.
Unable to see anyone in the dimness, she called out, “Hello?” her voice echoing off the walls.
Under the cover of darkness, someone leapt out at her, knocking the slingshot from her hand. She felt something sharp press against her neck.
“You’re coming with me,” a familiar man’s voice snarled. “If you scream, I’ll end you.”
Horror chilled Vanda’s spine and her knees buckled beneath her. She was free no longer, her worst fear had been realized. She’d been recaptured by her uncle.
Chuckling cynically, Lord Omor muscled his niece up the stairs. “I see you found that putrid frog.” He thrust her out of the cabin angrily. “You just couldn’t stay with me. I provided you with food, shelter, protection. Serpi (SIR-pie)! I even arranged your betrothal to the Prince.”
They stopped about twenty feet to the front of the cabin and turned around. Garridan was nowhere in sight.
“Show yourself, Serghei (SAIR-gay), if you’re still man enough!” her uncle roared.
Vanda jerked up. Omor called Garridan ‘Serghei’. Where had she heard that name before? What did her uncle mean by his jest? Her uneasiness mounted.
Garridan rocketed out into the open. “Omor! What are you doing with her?”
“I thought you would recognize her by now! I’m taking my niece home. Just thought I’d let you know,” Omor grinned maniacally, the scar across his cheek accentuating his villainous nature.
The frogman’s face remained expressionless, but immeasurable pain flickered in his gaze. “How could I not recognize her? But, you told me she died!”
“I did tell you that didn’t I?” the evil man looked mock-thoughtful. “I lied!”
Through this exchange, Vanda’s mind raced, puzzling over their words- what they said and how they said them, trying to make sense of it all. Suddenly, something caught her eye. She noticed someone high on the roof leveling a longbow at Garridan. The frogman, unaware of his impending doom, did not sense the danger coming his way. Vanda had to warn him.
Adrenaline surging through her, and sending a silent plea to Iesus, Vanda grabbed at Omor’s knife hand and jerked it away from her. With all her strength, she elbowed him in the stomach. Omor crumpled quite easily, obviously not expecting his niece to fight back the way she did.
“Garridan! Behind you!” Vanda ran to Garridan, screaming.
Just as the archer released the arrow, Garridan spun around. His face emoted shock. The arrow hit him in the chest. He collapsed on the ground, red staining his shirt.
“Iesus, no,” Vanda gasped. She fell at his side, tears streaming down her face.
The frogman squeezed his eyes shut against the searing pain, his breath coming in ragged gasps.
“Talk to me, Garridan! Stay with me,” Vanda choked.
He weakly opened his eyes, wincing. “Dragi (Drah-guy), it will be okay.”
“What do you mean ‘it will be okay’? It’s not okay!” she sobbed.
“I’m so– so– grateful to have seen you again,” Garridan feebly lifted a hand to brush her cheek.
“I don’t understand,” she cried, her heart breaking.
“Fetita (Feh-TEE-tah). Daughter,” he gasped.
All of a sudden, everything clicked together for her. The frogman before her was her father, Serghei, who died when she was only four years old. Her father had been in front of her this whole time!
“Ta`ta!” Vanda sobbed, stroking his head repeatedly. “Father! I just found you. Don’t go!”
Garridan half-smiled wistfully. “We are… united in… spirit…” He closed his eyes, his strength ebbing.
From the corner of her eye, Vanda could see Omor getting up in the distance.
Omor’s face contorted with anger, veins bulging in his temples. “Doru! Finish them!”
Vanda’s gaze darted to the archer on the roof, Doru, who nocked another arrow in his longbow. The archer pulled the string on the bow taught, aiming at her.
Vanda closed her eyes, waiting for the arrow to strike. “Iesus, save us!” she pleaded.
A breeze swept over the mountain-side, scattering clouds over the sun.
“What’s going on?” an unfamiliar female voice bellowed.
Vanda opened her eyes and turned to face the voice. There on the hill’s rise stood an elderly woman clothed in Romanian traditional dress, her white, flowing mane blowing about her face in the breeze. The archer cast his weapons on the ground, screaming, and jumped from the rooftop in his hasty escape.
“Good lady,” Omor’s voice wavered. Suddenly, he looked so small. “Nothing is going on. I was saving this –err- frog and girl from yon archer.”
“Ba!” she growled, stepping forward. “Iesus has seen your many sins against your family, your own flesh and blood.”
Before their eyes, the old lady transformed into a mighty angel.
“Your brother and niece have done nothing to deserve your malice,” the angelic being stood in front of Vanda and Garridan.
Omor opened his mouth in protest.
“Tacere (tah-SAIR), Silence!” Lacrima thundered. Omor fell to the ground, silenced indefinitely.
The angel, turning to Vanda and the frogman, spoke to them, saying, “Do not be afraid, Dragi (Drahg-ee). I am Lacrima. Iesus has seen the suffering of you and your father.”
The angel placed her hands on the heads of the girl and the frogman, exclaiming, “What dusmana (doos-MAHN-nah) has taken, Iesus restores!”
Vanda’s tears abated and Garridan’s breathing steadied. They relaxed under the warming touch of Lacrima. “Sa fie restaurate (Sa fee rest-ar-rah-TAY), be restored!” she called out.
The angel stepped back, a smile on her face. Rising in the air, Vanda glowed as peace washed over her. She settled back on the ground gently. At the same time, Garridan glowed with such intensity, it masked his form. With a deep sigh, he settled back on the ground near her. As the light dissipated, in the place of what once was an ugly frog stood a man. Vanda and the man stood staring at each other in disbelief. The man looked like her! The same dark brown hair, the same pale olive skin, the same stormy green eyes. The man Vanda had only seen faintly in her memory was fully restored!
Lacrima laughed with delight. “Go to each other!”
They ran to each other’s arms in a warm embrace, tears streaming.
“Ta`ta!” Vanda cried into the man’s shoulder.
“Fetita!” Serghei exclaimed as he twirled his daughter around in his arms.
They briefly pulled away.
“I thought you were dead,” he whispered. “After Omor turned me into a frog, I tried visiting you, but he told me you had contracted the plague and died.”
Vanda sighed. “No, I didn’t die from the plague. He locked me in the South tower, only allowing me out to sing and dance for his horrible guests.”
“I’m so sorry I wasn’t there to protect you from him!”
“That’s all over now. Uncle Omor had told me that you died in a border skirmish.”
Serghei explained, sighing, “Omor had one of his magicians turn me into a frog and chased me into the wilderness, or he would convince the villagers to kill me.”
They stood in awed silence until Lacrima interrupted them. “I must go, dragii mei. Always remember the goodness of Iesus.”
When Lacrima had finished her goodbyes, Serghei and Vanda watched as the angel disappeared into the clouds.
Vanda turned to Serghei. “What happens now, my good man… Father?”
“Whatever Iesus desires of us, Tanara Femeie…” he smiled at her.
About the Author
Skipper is a teen-aged girl with a passion for words and God. Ever since she was little, Skipper has been fascinated by both of them, and she’s always glad to share the words God’s given her with others. She has written many poems, essays, reports and short stories, in which she tries to incorporate what she believes, but she has yet to finish a novel. (Although, she intends to do so really soon!) You can read more of what she’s written on her blog, https://skipperspiritpassion.wordpress.com.