Tales of a Toad

Madeleine Ford
Tales of a Toad Madeleine Ford lives in Upper Manhattan, New York with her cat Pete and her parents.

“I decided to try some of the birdseed to see if it tasted anything like snails. So if your Owner gets birdseed, heed my strong advice: DO NOT TRY TO EAT IT!!! Seriously though, birdseed is even worse than grapes.”

     

Mr. Toad

Gretchen and I do not get along. Gretchen, the dumb “know-it-all” parakeet that lives with Owner and me, is sooo annoying!!! She only cares about herself, and worst of all, Owner only cares about Gretchen! It’s like I don’t exist! Life was perfect until she came along.

“How was life before she came?” you might ask. Well, that’s what I’m here to tell you.

I was sitting in my box when Owner came to me. “Hey, Mr. Toad,” he said. “Wanna play?”

Of course I do, I thought.

“Let’s go!” Owner took me out of my box and put me on the floor.

“Want to have a hopping race?” he asked.  I nodded my head. We started leaping across the floor. Then, I felt my stomach start to rumble, and I realized I was hungry. I hopped back into my box and hopped around in circles. That meant that I was hungry. Owner went into the other room and got my food. I was sitting in my box when Owner came to feed me.

“Today is a big day,” said Owner. “I am getting a bird.”

A bird? I thought. What’s a bird?

“A bird,” said Owner, as if he was reading my mind, “is an animal with big, yellow wings and clawed feet.”

This bird sounds scary, I thought.

Owner gave me a couple of grapes and a snail for breakfast. Then, he went out of the room to eat his breakfast. I liked the snail, but not the grapes. I went to my cave to sleep after breakfast. When I closed my eyes, I heard the door creaking. Owner must have left to get the bird. I fell asleep.

I heard Owner walk into the room holding a big cage with a yellow thing that had wings. That must be the bird, I thought.

“Okay, Gretchen, welcome to your new home.”

Wait, new home? Gretchen’s staying? I thought she was just visiting!

“Squack! New home! Squack!” said the parakeet.  Then, she snapped her beak and flexed her talons. I was a little scared. I ran into the cave in my box and hid. I woke up and realized that it was a dream. I was still scared of a parakeet coming, but at least I hoped it would have a better name than Gretchen.

“Squawk! New home! Squawk!”

I had heard that before. The parakeet must be here. I was scared, really scared. I went back into my cave and hid like I did in my dream. A big, metal cage was set down next to my box.

“This is Mr. Toad,” I heard Owner’s voice say. “He is your new roommate.”

Roommate? I thought. She’s living in here? Oh no!

“Squawk, Mr. Toad, squawk!”

“Ribbit!” I let out a croak.

“Mr. Toad, this is Gretchen,” said Owner.

Oh no, that is her name, I thought. I didn’t like her already.

“Here, Gretchen, have some food,” said Owner.

Gretchen’s food looked tastier than grapes (which I hate,) but definitely not as good as snails (the absolute best food EVER!!) You really should try snails.

Anyway, I decided to try some of the birdseed to see if it tasted anything like snails. So if your Owner gets birdseed, heed my strong advice: DO NOT TRY TO EAT IT!!!  Seriously though, birdseed is even worse than grapes.

Now, back to the story.

Gretchen ate her food.

“Well, Gretchen, Mr. Toad, I have to go to school. See you soon!”

I heard another voice come from another room. “Alexander, you’re gonna be late!”

“Coming, Mom!” yelled Owner.

He walked out the door. I turned to Gretchen in disgust. “Parakeets are not welcome in this house.” I felt kind of guilty for saying that, but I knew that I wouldn’t be the number one pet anymore while she was around.

“That’s a very unfriendly welcome for a very…” She blinked her long eyelashes. “…a very friendly toad.” Gretchen winked. Oooh, how I hate that bird! Gretchen’s pale blue eyes flashed.  

“By the way, your food tastes worse than grapes!” I croaked. “But it fits you perfectly.”

“Oh yeah?” Gretchen squawked. “Watch this.” I gulped. “Squawk! Hungry! Squawk!” She flapped her wings up and down frantically. “Squawk!”

“Oh, here’s some birdseed, dear,” said Owner’s mom as she fed Gretchen.

I hopped around in circles. That meant I was hungry. Nothing. “Hey! Why am I not getting any food?” I asked Gretchen.

But she just shook her head. “Mmm, mmm, mmm.”

“Hey! Not fair! How did you even do that?”

“’Cause parakeets can talk. Toads? Mmm, mmm, mmm.” I just huffed and went to sleep.

But when I woke up the next morning, Owner and Gretchen were already awake. Playing. Having fun.

“Squawk! Fun! Squawk!”

“Yes, Gretchen. Fun.”

“Squawk! Happy!” I couldn’t believe my eyes. They were rolling snails, hopping in circles, doing all the things that Owner and I used to do when I was his. But it got worse. Gretchen kept glaring at me.

Then, Owner said something. I didn’t understand it, but it sounded like, “Okay, Gretchen, I have to use the bathroom.” That’s when Gretchen pushed me out the open window.

Okay, look, I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing, but here goes nothin’!!! Ooh, look at that store over there! I wonder what it sells… Hey! What’s this? Some kind of joke? No, wait, it’s… it’s… a mini snail! Now, let’s do a taste test… Blech!! WAAAAY too sweet! But it’s — delicious! Ooh! Here’s another! And another! Yummmm! All these mini snails!  

What will I ever do? Hey! Stop it! Wait! Aaaaah!

Dark. Lonely. Trapped behind bars. I’m too young to die! What was this place? Nothing there but food, water, and a lot of other animals. There were cats, and dogs, and this fat, pink thing that smelled like Owner’s bacon, and a really creepy red and green parrot that kept yelling, “Squawk! I’m a macaw! Squawk!” He reminded me too much of Gretchen. It was dark, noisy, and moist in there. A dog barked at me. A cat hissed. I shuddered. I ran, but there was no cave to hide in. Just this stupid, empty cage. But at least Gretchen wasn’t there.

Owner’s voice echoed in my head. Welcome to your new home. Your new home. New home. Would I be here to stay? I didn’t want to find out…

Yep, still here. I wonder where I am. I wonder how Owner’s doing, partying all day long with Gretchen. Having fun. I wonder if he misses me, or even notices I’m gone. I miss him. I just hope he misses me…

Gretchen

“Where’s Mr. Toad?” Owner cried. “I miss him!”

What was up with Alexander? He’d been like this all week! I didn’t think he’d miss Toad so much.

“Squawk! Bored! Squawk!” I wanted to cheer him up. But he only kept on moping. I almost felt sorry for him… No. I made a choice. I had to stick to it.

Mr. Toad

The next day was a big day for me at the animal jail. A tall, skinny man with a small beard walked in. He took me out of my cage and held me in his hand. I squirmed and tried to wriggle out. I was scared. Real scared.

“Here you go, ma’am”, he said cheerfully. He gave me to a young, blonde woman.

“Thank you, sir!” she said. “I’ve always wanted a toad.”

“Okay, Mr.  Toad,” the woman said as we went home. “My name’s Annie. I’m yer new owner. I’m 28 years old, and I play the guit-tar and the trom-bone. I ain’t got no husband, but I do got Peter. You’ll meet him.”

When I got to her house, I saw something wrong immediately. Right there, lying on the floor in front of me, was a… a…

I don’t really know what it was, but it had big, scary, yellow eyes, and it was black and white with white whiskers.

“Rrribbiiiit!” I croak when I’m nervous.

I expected it to pounce on me, but instead, it just said, “Whazzzup, brother? Heard you were comin’. The name’s Peter. Whazz ur name?”

“Umm, Mr. Toad. H-hi, P-peter. Yeah. Hi.”  

You’ve probably realized that I’m scared of a lot of things, but this really gave me the heebie-jeebies. Would Peter be my best friend? My worst enemy? Again, I did not want to find out…

Yesterday when I woke up, Peter was staring down at me. “Hey, pal!! Wanna play?”

“Um, okay.”

“Sweet! Whatcha wanna do?”

“Uh, dunno. What do cats do?”

“We play the trombone!” He ran to the other side of the room and got a big yellow thing from its stand. He blew on one end, and a noise came out of the other end. The noise was bad at first, but then, Peter played a song on it.

“Cool, man!”

“I know, right?”

“Hey, can you help me with something?”

“Anything for you, brah.”                     

Gretchen

Toad is running through the woods. He has a big black and white thing running next to him. I am sitting on my windowsill, watching. Toad leaps onto the windowsill, so does the big black thing. I jump back. Toad leaps onto me. I scream in fright! I fly into my cage, but Toad is hanging onto my tail. He’s stuck in my cage with me. He sticks out his long tongue into my face, and my eyes widen as it hits me between the eyes. I let out a long, high wail, like “Ahh!”

I woke up and realized it was just a dream, but I had a hunch that it might be real.

I had to warn Alexander! I flew out of the cage and into the living room. I saw Alexander sitting on his chair, crying.

“Alexander, Alexander! Mr. Toad’s coming back with the giant black and white thing!”

Alexander kept crying. “Yes, I know you’re hungry, Gretchen,” he said. “You have plenty of birdseed.”

“No, I’m not hungry! Mr. Toad’s gonna try to come back to get back at me!”

“Gretchen, go away…” Alexander moaned.

Why is he so upset? He doesn’t play with me anymore, he just sits on his chair and cries.

“Why did Mr. Toad leave me? Everything was perfect until he left.”

Wait, he misses the toad? Naw. I went back to my cage to have a quick rest.

Mr. Toad

“This is the house where Owner lives.”

There had to be a way to get back at Gretchen. And what better way to do it than with a cat on my side. But how?

“We gonna have to jump in there,” said Peter. We had a plan. We’d run across Fifth Avenue and jump through the window.

We ran across the intersection, jumping across cars. Full disclosure, I was terrified. At a red light, a navy blue car stopped right in front of Owner’s bedroom window. Now was the time! I hopped on it and then hopped up to the window.

I just missed the window! The light turned yellow. A few seconds and I drove away on the car!

“Peter!” I yelled, “Help me get up there!”

“Here, climb on my back,” said Peter. I jumped on Peter’s back, and he hooked his claws on the brick wall just as the light turned green, and he started climbing up the wall.  I looked down. We were two stories above Fifth Avenue. If I fell, I would fall into thick traffic.

Peter grabbed the window sill of Owner’s window and pulled himself up. I hopped through the open window and into Gretchen’s cage.  Gretchen was asleep but when she heard me hop in, she let out a loud, long wail, like “Ahh!!!”

“Squawk! My dream came true! Squawk!” Gretchen flew out, leaving the door of her cage open. I hopped out behind her and hopped into the living room, with Peter behind me.  

“Owner! Hello, it’s me. Mr Toad! Hello?” I was surprised to find Owner sitting in his chair, sobbing. “Owner? What’s wrong?”

Owner turned around in his chair.  “M-m-Mr. Toad? I-is that you?”

“Yes! Yes! It’s me!” I wailed, “Why won’t you notice me?”

“Mr. Toad, you came back! I thought you hated me.”

“Squawk! It’s my fault! Squawk!” said a bird-like voice from the bedroom.

“What do you mean, Gretchen?” said Owner.

“Squawk! I pushed Toad out of the window! Squawk! I’m so sorry.”

“Gretchen? You would never do that…” said Owner.

“It’s true, he never wanted to leave you. Squawk.”

Owner scooped me into his hands and hugged me. He said with a tremble in his voice, “Never leave me again.”

“You’re forgiven, Gretchen,” I whispered from Owner’s arms.

THE END

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