3 Sep


frog photo: frog 070415d7.gifWhen she was in the middle of her elder years Granny Bones went to the flea market down the road from where she lived, and erected a stall.

She had quite a lot of surplus stuff in her cottage, and she had decided to go minimalist. It wasn’t that she thought she didn’t need the stuff (though she really didn’t) but that she’d been watching a television programme all about style and fashion.
“I need to be fashionable,” she decided. “And all this clutter’s not remotely fashionable. So it’s just got to go.”
And in truth she was extremely cluttered. There was barely a corner of her cottage where she could see the actual wall for furniture loaded with clutter. It was orderly, true enough, but still clutter.

So she took her clutter to the flea market.

There was a clock with a dial marked in thirteen hours rather than twelve and it had a chime loud enough to waken the dead of seven counties. Granny Bones had had it specially made by an old boyfriend when she’d been his young girlfriend Bones because she wanted to annoy the neighbours. She’d done that, all right, and they had huffed and puffed their protests and then moved home just to get away from the silly noisy clock next door. The trouble was, and she’d not taken this into account, her loving boyfriend was their son and lived with them, so when they went so did he.

Now the years had passed, she hadn’t used the clock in decades, and it had to go.

There were loads of other things, too. At one end of the trestle table that constituted her stall was a box of frogs. They weren’t silly porcelain frogs, though, not the kind of thing that people collect and stand in serried rows on their mantel-shelves but real frogs. Living frogs.

She’d collected them ages ago, devised a sleeping tincture for them and kept them in a box, waking them up every few months to feed them (lettuce leaves had to do) and then returning them to slumber before they could as much as croak. But it was time for them to go. They were clutter and as we know she had decided against that!

“How much for a frog, duck?” asked a passing customer as she was contemplating the rest of the stuff on her stall.

“I’ll swap it,” she said, staring almost rudely at the woman who had made the enquiry. “I’ll swap it for that brooch,” she added, pointing to an ornament on the woman’s cardigan.

“Hey! This is real gold and that’s just … what’s the frog made of?” squawked the customer.

“Frog,” smiled Granny Bones.

“I can see it’s a frog, but what’s it actually made of?” demanded the woman, almost angrily.

“I told you! Frog!” hissed a suddenly agitated Granny Bones. “It’s a real live living frog in a deep sleep,” she added. “It’s having porcelain dreams! Look at the poor little thing! There’s a maggot coming out of its nose!”

“Urgh! It’s horrible!” wailed the customer, who suddenly became an ex-customer. “There should be a law against such cruelty! Selling boxes of dead frogs indeed There ought to be a law against it!”

“There is,” boomed the Reverend Josiah Pike, suddenly emerging from nowhere and looming over them. “This is a church flea market and we don’t allow the torture of God’s little creatures!”

“What about the fleas, then?” demanded Granny Bones. “This is a flea market, so it must have fleas. Probably thousands of them judging by the way the clothing jumble in the corner is jumping about on its own!”

The Reverend Josiah Pike who only had answers to questions he’d already thought of and contemplated at great personal length snorted and wandered off.

“Wake up, little darling,” cooed Granny Bones at the dead frog, and the maggot slithered out of its nose as it twitched and jumped a good six inches into the air whilst croaking the National Anthem in an almost acceptable baritone.

“Ooh! How sweet!” cooed the ex-customer who had suddenly decided she might become a customer again.”Does it take batteries?”

“Only dead ones,” confided Granny Bones, thinking on her feet.

“I’ll take one! That one! The live one!” waffled the woman, and Granny Bones wrapped the frog in tissue before she could change her mind.

“Here you are, then,” said the woman, unclasping her brooch. “It’s only nine carat or I’d want to keep it,” she added.

It took only a matter of microseconds for Granny Bones to snatch the brooch and tuck it in her knickers as a queue formed and all the frogs were exchanged for items of jewellery in next to no time.

But that clock of hers, that wasn’t sold. It seemed that thirteen hour clocks were looked on as unlucky, and nobody wanted it. But that didn’t dishearten her. She still had a hope at the back of her mind that one day she might bump into that old boyfriend of hers.

It was, she thought, a long time since anyone had kissed her and she knew he would.

© Peter Rogerson 03.09.15


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