Warty’s Wish

by Michelle Brown -

Warticus I. Toad wanted one thing. He wanted it very, very much.

“What could he possibly want?” you say.

He had a snug little burrow, precisely the right size and shape for a toad. He had a few good friends who knew when to drop by and when to mind their own business. And he had all the bugs, grubs, and worms his warty body could consume.

What could a toad that had everything possibly want?

Warticus I. Toad wanted . . . to be loved. More specifically, to be kissed.

One day in early spring, he looked at himself in the mirror and said,  "Warticus, old fellow, face the facts. You are a toad. A brown, snub-nosed, lumpy-bumpy toad. Nobody loves you. Nobody even likes you."

"I like you, Warty!" said Darticus B. Newt, popping his pointed nose into Toad's hole. "May I borrow some high viscosity oil?"

Toad smiled in spite of himself and invited his old friend inside. Newt was an inventor, always building something exciting. They discussed Toad's troubles over tea.

"By the by," said Newt. "Why aren't you hibernating? And why are you up during the day?"

"Couldn't sleep," Toad replied. "Could you sleep if no one loved you?" He took a long sip of tea, then whispered, "If you'd never even been kissed?"

Newt noddded. He didn’t dare admit that he himself had never been kissed. "That is a problem."

"And Newt," Toad inquired, "why aren't you hibernating?"

Newt stood and stretched. "I was asleep. But in mid-December I had the most amazing dream, and I have been awake ever since."

“What month are we in now?”

“March. So you see,” Newt said with a glimmer in his eye, “it’s nearly time to wake up anyway.”

Toad settled himself beside the fire with a broad yawn. Newt paced up and down and stared at the ceiling. His tail lashed about as it did when he was in high good humor. "I dreamed of the most excellent invention. It was a flying apparatus, completely powered by…" here he looked at Toad, "gas!"

Toad sat on the edge of his chair, fully awake. "Yes! Go on, go on!"

“It was a dirigible airship.” He snatched the poker from the hearth and drew in the dirt of Toad’s floor. “The ship had a cylindrical shape with semi-spherical ends, like so. The structure was enveloped in varnished silk!” Here Newt stopped sketching and looked at Toad again.

Toad stifled a yawn. “Go on.”

“It was exactly six feet in length and had a diameter of…“

"And how did your dream end?" interrupted Toad, who had no patience for particulars.

Newt sank onto the sofa and sighed. "We floated over the palace and wished the royal family a happy Easter. The king invited us to tea, took a tour of my dirigible, and appointed me court inventor."

"What did he appoint me?"


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