“Hey look down there.” Tobias pointed toward the river. “Isn’t that Brea, the witch’s daughter?"
Charles looked down at the young girl on the bank by the water. “Yes, I think that’s Ludenia’s daughter. Why do you call her mother a witch?”
“Cause my old man says so.” Tobias slapped Charles’s head with his hand.“Haven’t you seen the shack they live in?”
“Yes, I have,” said Charles. “It always looked clean to me.”
“You never looked close enough; they‘re trash, my pa said so.”
Tobias moved some branches, careful not to snag his new purple waistcoat with the big gold buttons. “What’s she up to?”
Brea sat at the edge of the river, a tiny table and chairs were on the ground before her. She reached into a large bowl by her side and carefully lifted out a squirming frog. She held it carefully as she dressed the creature in a tiny pair of white pants and a fancy blue coat.
“Sit there and be good,” she told the frog in a child’s voice. “Tea will be in five minutes.”
She pulled another amphibian from the bowl and began to slide a tiny lace dress over its squirming legs. “You must dress quickly; the guests are already starting to arrive.”
The first frog began to squirm off the tiny chair. Brea gently rubbed its head behind its bulging eyes … it stilled as if hypnotized. When she had both the frogs seated on chairs she began to remove tiny pieces of silverware from a bag tied to her waist and carefully place them on the table. Plates, cups, forks …
Tobias laughed. “She’s having dinner with a bunch of frogs.”
“She’s just a kid, all kids play,” Charles said.
“Well, I don’t like it,” Tobias frowned. He picked up a stone from the path and pitched it toward the girl. There was a loud smack and a voice began to wail.
Brea was standing with a half-dressed frog in her hand when Tobias and Charles walked up to her.
“You hurt my hand and my friend.” Brea sobbed. Tears ran down her cheeks.
“That’s what you get for hanging out with the wrong people,” Tobias said.
He began to stomp on the tiny table and chairs, smashing the furniture.
“Stop!” Brea cried.
The frog in the chair began to hop away. Tobias tried to crush it with his boot.
Suddenly Brea rose above her feet. Her eyes turned red and her hair became a brilliant orange, standing on end. “Now!” she screamed. Tobias burst into flames and was instantly consumed. A puff of smoke dissolved in the wind.
Charles ran. When he was at the top of the bank, he looked back. Brea had placed both frogs on the broken chairs.
“Oh good.” She giggled. “Our Guest has arrived.”
Brea pulled a squirming frog from the bowl and began to carefully dress him in a purple waistcoat with big gold buttons.
From “HOBBS INN” a novel in progress. Randall R. Peterson is a freelance writer from Annis, Idaho, and a new member of Blue Sage Writers.