Galatea shut the garden gate and headed out into her family’s land. In the morning sun she walked to the east for a distance and then pivoted to the north. She continued this pattern until her home was not in view and then walked on farther. After a few minutes she stopped and scanned the horizon several times for anyone moving around. Seeing no one, she sat down in a field of heather.
Reaching deep into her left boot, she pulled out her Mom’s necklace. Galatea massaged her temple and exhaled deeply while staring at it. Since the ambush, it had been hidden in the lining. Turning the locket in several directions she studied the triangular shape and the symbol engraved into it. She thought to herself, “Why was mom so desperate for me to keep this safe and hide it?” Galatea rubbed the top of the necklace, paused and scanned her surroundings. Only the gentle breeze moved. Her face scowled as she leaned in and pressed the rune of air much harder and sat up straight. This time even the wind was quiet. Putting on the necklace she opened her eyes wide and listened and waited. A faint noise turned her attention to the forest.
The plants under the trees started to move. Coming out of the woods hopping towards her was a young green bullfrog. Galatea realized it was coming directly at her.
“Hey, What’s the matter?” she called. The frog looked behind him and back at Galatea as he increased his speed. Sludge flew behind him with every hop. She held up her hand and yelled, “whoa...stop,” but the frog locked eyes on her. With only a few feet between them, Galatea scooted backwards, drew a line in the dirt and cast a spell. The frog bounced off the invisible wall and shook his head and frowned. A blue heron swooped over them and continued on its way.
The frog glared wide eyed at Galatea.
“Well you were coming at me kind of fast and you're dripping with slime,” she explained.
The frog shrugged his shoulders and bellowed a deep, “Rrruuu.”
Galatea studied the swamp bullfrog who was covered with shades of moss green and tones of the dark forest. “I guess you're not really a threat,'' she said as her hand released the spell. “You’re not even fully grown.”
The frog turned his head from side to side and noticed a snack.
Nearby a large black beetle was making a run for it through the soil. The frog zapped it but the bug got stuck in his throat. The frog bulged his eyeballs out and then retracted them into his head forcing a swallow. Opening his eyes he grinned with a drip of drool hanging off the bottom of his lip.
“Do you always have something oozing out of your mouth?” asked Galatea.
The frog raised one eyelid high and answered,“Rruu.” Then he hopped a little closer and stopped next to a daisy growing through the heather. A fly buzzed over the flowers until a long pink tongue sucked it in.
Galatea giggled, “You got a big appetite for a little guy.”
The frog responded with a loud burp forcing the fly back out of his mouth. It stuck on Galatea’s check covered in green yuck. They both laughed while she flicked it back at the frog. He swallowed it and then burped again. Galatea ducked but nothing happened. Her laughter increased until she snorted. The frog tapped his front foot and roared “Rru, Rru.”
Gaining her composure, Galatea took off the necklace and put it back in its secret place. Looking at the frog she said, “Enough of this. I need to go home...now.”
The frog wiggled his butt into the dirt and curled his bottom lip forward and mumbled, “rru.”
Galatea teased, “Don’t pout.” but the frog turned around and hung his head down. “Don’t pout,“ she said again as she picked him up. Holding him up to her face she explained, “you’re adorable and you make me laugh. In fact, I’m going to take you home.”
The frog responded with a small gurgle as he shook his head up and down.
“If you're coming with me you are going to need a name. “Hmmmmm, something that matches who you are.” Galatea looked right in his eyes and said, “You drool, you spit, you burp, and you have the cutest smile for a bullfrog. You’re a Lithobates?” she exclaimed.
The frog tilted his head and then frowned at her.
Galatea kept right on talking. “Yes, Lithobates is a perfect name but I…I will call you Litho. Hello Litho,” she said with a grin.
Smacking his left foot into her palm he shouted, “RRU! RRU!”
“Litho, I know exactly where I am going to put you in my mom’s garden. There are patches of grass by a small pond. Your job will be to get rid of the slimy crawly things I don’t like to touch,” she explained with a wink.
Litho smiled back at her as he licked his lips.
Galatea continued, “The colorful snapdragons that surround the garden have radiant faces. The vines and other plants have a way of...of...making you feel like the world is okay.”
Litho gazed up at Galatea and softly exhaled as he snuggled deeper into her palm.
Gently wrapping her fingers around him, Galatea opened her leather pouch and placed Litho on top of a cloth. She got up and headed towards home taking the same path she had taken earlier.
After a short distance a sound startled her and she turned around but no one was there. Hearing it again, Galatea looked down and opened the pouch only to find Litho with his eyes closed and his lips vibrating as they released gurgling sounds. In the corner of his mouth there was a drop of green slime running down his face.