The baby, newborn though he was, screwed up his little face, and gurgled at the merry sounds. The King watched his son, proudly. This boy would surely grow up to be handsome and strong. All good qualities for a future King. Unlike her husband, the Queen was not thinking of the future. She was thinking of the now, and how sweet her little Todd was.
Todd, however, did not stay sweet. He grew up spoiled, entitled. He was as mischievous as the rowdy servant boys he played with, but he could not be punished. At the age of eleven, he was a terror, knowing things well beyond his years – from the servant boys as well as from the local tavern. Children of eleven were not allowed into the tavern, but he was Prince Todd. He could do whatever he liked. He could go wherever he liked. No one could question him. No one could do anything to him. He was the Prince.
One day, Prince Todd was playing alone. He ventured into the woods that stood behind the castle. He ventured deep in between the trees. He was not afraid of getting lost. He was smart. Besides, he was the Prince. Nothing could happen to him.
"Young man," a soft, willowy voice caught the Prince's attention.
He turned and looked. There was an old woman tucked in between the trees. The thought raced across his mind: why is she here? He quickly dismissed the thought. Instead, he puffed out his chest. This old crone had called him a man.
Seeing she had his attention, the old lady continued. "I seem to have gotten lost. Can you direct me to the castle?"
Prince Todd snorted. This dirty old thing was not allowed anywhere near his castle, his home. "No. I'm not giving directions to someone who was stupid enough to get lost," he scorned.
"Please," the old woman pleaded, but her eyes were flashing. "I'm old. I need help, Prince Todd."
"No," Todd repeated. "I have to get going." He had adventures to have in these woods before sundown.
"Prince Todd," the woman said, her voice no longer weak, but strong. "You are as mean as they say."
"Whatever," Prince Todd shrugged his shoulders, turning to leave.
The woman didn't stop. "Because you are mean, I will turn you into an ugly toad, until you find true love's kiss."
Todd then realized she was a witch. And she was about to cast a spell on him! He spun around quickly, a 'please' on his lips. It was too late. The transformation was taking place.
His skin began to turn green. His tongue felt too long for his widening mouth. His head began to feel heavy, his eyes at an odd angle. His fingers became webbed together. He felt shorter.
Then it all stopped.
The witch gasped. Her gasp then changed to a cackle. "My magic is not strong enough to complete the change! You are stuck between a toad and a human!" Her voice dropped slightly. "Until I come back for you."
Todd wasn't listening to her ramblings any longer. He was running away from her. He was running home. Home to Mother, Father and the large mirror that would prove he still had the handsome face he remembered. Because this couldn't be real.
He ran in the servant's entrance. A maid screamed. That told him all he needed to know. He was a freak. He was no longer Prince Todd. For now, and for many long years to come, he would be known as the Toad Prince.
"Honey," the Queen called, knocking on her son's door.
"Go away!" the Toad Prince yelled back. His long tongue unfurled in his mouth, causing the strange lisp that he's had to live with for almost ten years.
The Queen opened the door, wrinkling her nose. Ever since his encounter with the witch, Todd had been living in the dungeon. He was hidden away from his family, and the subjects he would have to rule someday. Toad looking or not, Todd was their only heir.
"There's a Princess from Sellow, the Kingdom across the river. Maybe if you met her," the Queen trailed off, thinking 'Maybe if you met her, you'll get your kiss'. The Queen looked up, barely able to meet Todd's deformed buggy eyes.
"NO!" he roared, the massive tongue flicking every which way. "I'm a monster! I'll be a monster forever! I'm ugly! No one will ever kiss me!" Todd reached out blindly, intending to throw whatever he touched at his mother. The Queen, however, was quick, and slammed the door shut.
Todd collapsed on the bed, which was slightly moist. The dungeons were always wet, mold forming on the walls, and puddles being created on the floor. It felt right, though, to live in this place. The thought of returning to his plush, cushy room disgusted him. The fact that he knew it was the toad part of him that hated his old room, disgusted him even more.
"I don't think you're ugly," came a tinny voice from somewhere in his room. "You're actually pretty cute, for a human."
Todd knew he was hallucinating, brought out by a strong desire to be a true human again. Still, he replied, "I'm not human. I'm just a disgusting freak."
"No," the voice came again, just as high pitched as before. "You are a human, and I certainly don't see how you are a freak."
"Look at me!" Todd roared, taking out his locked up frustrations on the voice that was probably only in his head. "This is not human!"
"More human that I!" There was a squelching noise.
And that's when Todd understood.
The voice wasn't in his head. The voice belonged to a real body. But not a human body. Just a little body. The body of a toad. A female toad.
"Yeah, well, I'm stuck halfway between a toad and a man. I'm a freak. At least you're normal," he growled.
"A talking toad?" She squeaked. "Think about that. It's not normal."
The Toad Prince thought about it. Unbidden, his mind turned to the ancient fairytales. If witches were real, maybe the stories of his childhood weren't just stories. And in fairytales talking animals, well, weren't they usually cursed too? Another thought flashed across his mind. If she, this little girl toad, was actually a princess, and he kissed her, they would both be cured. He could be human again!
Yet, he needed 'true love's' kiss. According to that stupid witch. But maybe that wasn't a reliable source. Her magic was weak, so weak that his transformation didn't complete. Maybe he just needed a kiss. He sure as heck hadn't been kissed since his half change.
Todd refused to think of the alternative: maybe, since her magic was so weak, his toad-ness could not be reversed.
"My name is Gail," the toad-girl-maybe-transformed-princess continued, unaware of Todd's deep thoughts. She persisted with her chatter.
Todd relaxed; content to listen. He didn't find her annoying at all. Maybe he was just glad for the company; he'd been a lone for a long time after all. Or maybe, he liked her because she'd called him 'cute'. But, none of these were his real thoughts, as he tuned in and out of Gail's speech. He had to decide if he was going to kiss her or not.
Why not? He thought.
If it was true love, he wouldn't need to know he loved her for it to work. If all that was needed was a kiss, well, that worked out too. However, if nothing happened . . . Well, if nothing happened, he wasn't sure what he would do. In the end, Todd summoned his old self, the one who would do anything just because he could.
Old Todd in the new body was not a great fit. After all, that old personality had been dead for a long time. He had been replaced by a lonely toad-man. But old Todd was there for a reason, and he knew that reason.
He grabbed Gail with his ugly, webbed hands. She squawked, and struggled slightly. Todd, gently but firmly, held her in place. He raised her to eye-level. He closed his eyes. Then, pressed his lips against her smaller, weirder mouth.
It all happened at once.
He dropped Gail as he changed. It all occurred too quickly for him to keep track of. Only one thought was a constant: this is wrong. He was going the wrong way. Instead of becoming human, he was now a full toad.
Angrily, awkwardly, he spun in circles. He was searching for Gail. He didn't find her. Gail was gone. The witch, from all those years ago, was in her place.
"My magic is complete," she announced. "Good lucking finding your kiss now, Prince Toad," the last part was a sneer, as she disappeared, out of his life, and perhaps, out of the kingdom.
Prince Todd never saw her again. He never found his kiss. He roamed around the dungeons for decades. He eventually died of old age.
And the Toad Prince lived happily never after.*Written for English class.