Short story – The navel frog
Once upon a time, there was a rain frog village under a rice field of an oriental island. They co-lived with the rice field from generation to generation. They were happy who they were, where they were and what they were doing. One spring, the new tadpoles were breed and swam between the rice seedlings. They were expected to grow up very soon after the cherry blossoms. Promisingly, in the early summer, the young rain frogs sang loudly as they were leaping around. Suddenly, one frog screamed: “Look! He has a button on his belly!”
All the young frogs were curious and came together to see what the button he was saying. But no one knew what it was. The rain frog who had a button on the belly was so surprised. He never noticed that there was something unusual about himself. He touched the button and found that it was concaved and felt connected. The other young frogs also touched his button, but they felt nothing about it. They were trying to rub, poke and tickle that made him laughed.
This button seemed like an amazing thing that was able to bring joy. But what was it, and why only he had and the other didn’t? As many doubts raised, an old rain frog came along and asked: “Hey! Kids, what are you doing here?”
All the young rain frogs answered as the same time: “He has a button on his belly!”
The old rain frog came to looked at it closely and said gravely: “It is a navel!”
“A navel?” All the young frogs, including the one who had the navel questioned.
The old rain frog pondered seriously before she answered pleasantly: “Well, don’t worried. It is nothing disaster but just a little unusual. You know, not every piece of cloud is the same.” She was trying to comfort them. But all the young frogs were silent. It seemed that they couldn’t get rid of an ominous feeling.
By the time, the young frog who had a navel was getting lonelier and lonelier and one day he was only himself. He didn’t sing and leap anymore. He didn’t like his navel at all, but he couldn’t make it disappeared. In the early autumn, when all the other rain frogs were blissfully hopping around the ripened rice ears. The navel frog strolled alone to the water passage where a heron drinking by it. The navel frog leaped into the passage, struggled in the fast running water, and was almost thrust by the rapid. He was picked up by a heron at last. When the heron was about to swallowed him. The navel frog said: “Well! Lucky you! I think you have never eaten a navel frog!”
Once it was said, the heron spit him out immediately, coughed hardly and said nastily: “What? You have a navel? Oh, my dear! I almost swallowed you. I don’t eat things have a navel. Don’t you just stay away from me!”
The navel frog was so sad, and mumbled to himself: “It is ok! I don’t think I am tasted good either.” Then he crawled away as the heron requested, but the heron called him: “Come back, kid!”
The navel frog stopped but didn’t come back. The heron strode ahead, looked at him warily before said: “You are not supposed to have a navel as a frog, do you know that?”
The navel frog said miserably: “I know, but I already have one.”
Seriously, the heron said: “You should get rid of it.”
The navel frog just glimpsed at him but said nothing. The heron then giggled: “What an attitude! You can never get help!”
The navel frog glimpsed at him again, said: “Well! You are the wise heron? Then can you explain why this happened to me.”
The heron waved to him, said: “Come over here kid! It will be a long story.”
The navel frog glimpsed at him once again but this time, his eyes were sparkling with hope. He hopped in front of him and said: “Tell me please! Everything!”
The heron smiled and said: “There are all kinds of things in the world and they all have their own way to be. Like I am a bird, I have feather and beak, and we lay eggs as the mice bear baby mice…
The navel frog interrupted: “Hey! I am frog, rain frog, why you talked about mice?”
The heron glared at him, said grumpily: “I have never seen such an impatient frog. You are really different!”
The navel frog didn’t like being different, so he was quiet intentionally. The heron then continued: “When the things have babies, they have navels…”
“Yes, yes, yes! I have a navel!” The navel frog was excited, and asked: “But, my mother lay eggs. How come I would have a navel?”
The heron shrugged his feather, and said: “You know, there are always something wrong. But you can see it in another side. For example, because you have a navel, you are not only a frog, you can be mice, cow, horse and human…”
“Human?” The navel frog was interested, and asked: “They also have navels?”
“Of course! Because they usually wear clothes that is why you don’t see.” The heron clarified.
The navel frog looked up at the humans who were busily harvesting in the rice field. The sweat they sprinkling was stinky and sometimes too much that could drown him. He never like them.
The heron asked attentively: “Do you want to be human?”
“No.” the navel frog relied quickly and certainly: “I wanted just to be a frog, a rain frog.”
The heron nodded with his long neck, said: “But, do you know that, if you wanted to get rid of your navel, you have to find a human to fall in love with you.”
“What? “The navel frog screamed: “By what mean? Fall in love with me?”
The heron clapped his beak, and said mysteriously: “If you didn’t like human, you can find a cow, a mouse or a pig…”
“No, I don’t want any of those!” The navel frog was almost crying.
The heron asserted seriously: “But you have to. I told you to find human, because they like to fall in love much more than cows and pigs. It is just easier for you.”
The navel frog looked up around the working humans in the rice field again, and said: “They are so busy working, will they have time to fall in love?”
“Well, not every human was busy like them. There are many idled humans in the palace. You might able to get one there.” The heron suggested.
The navel frog hesitated, said: “But, I know nothing about human. How could they fall in love with me?”
The heron appeared to know about everything, said: “That is easy! About the human world, there are only three things you should know about it.”
“Three only?” The navel frog was doubtful.
The heron wide-opened his eyes, and said sternly: “Yes, I have seen them all. In the world of human, if you wanted to be loved by them, first, you have to be strong.”
“I am not.” The navel frog said immediately.
“Second, you have to be beautiful.”
“You think I will be looked beautiful to their eyes?” The navel frog was uncertain.
“Third, you have to be eloquent.”
“Eloquent? That seemed more possible, I can even sing.” The navel frog was proud of his voice always.
“Then, you may go! Humans ears are very soft, you definitely will find one falling in love with you.” The heron assured.
The navel frog was encouraged as he leaped up and down animatedly.
The heron reminded him one more thing: “There is a trick to make them falling in love with you. It is to see their navels. After you get one fell in love with you, remember to get a kiss for proof, then your navel will be disappeared.”
“A kiss?” the navel frog was hesitant, mumbled: “With such a big mouth!?” When he looked back and tried to ask more, but found that the heron had already flew away to the sky soundlessly.
The navel frog then hopped and hopped on the dirt road. He accidentally leaped on an ox-cart that was just happened riding into the palace, where it was so far away for him to reach. He never thought he would be there of entire life. The ox-cart went through many buildings and finally stopped by the barn. A fishy odor came over as a group of humans unloading the baskets from the cart. The navel frog hastily hopped into the grass, avoiding to be trampled by their big feet.
The day was sunny and dry. The rain frog could not live without water for too long. He had to find something wet to dampen his body. He hopped and hopped, suddenly smelled soggy and felt steamy. He hopped through the grass field and found a place very special. It was so warm and moist even in the autumn. He felt rejuvenated as if he was still a tadpole.
When he was absorbed in the time of before he had a navel. Abruptly, a group of humans stumbled in with their huge shadows. He was shocked because the first time he saw so many naked human bodies in his life. They were not wearing clothes like the others in the rice field, but exposed their navels in the public. The navel frog remembered what the wise heron said: “The trick to make human falling in love with you is to see their navels.”
He didn’t expect he could see their navels easily and it was not only one but so many at the same time. However, he was not glad about that, for he didn’t want to be loved by all these bulky objects.
He immediately closed his eyes, but he had already seen one on a big round belly. This belly holder seemed had instantly enchanted by him. He found the little one by the grass at a glance. This big human jumped over near and said devouringly: “What a beautiful rain frog you are!”
The navel frog was so frightened when he saw this big human raised his hand trying to grab him. He hopped and fled into the grass straightaway. He was hopping and hopping with all his strength until he heard no more sound from him.
He stopped and panted, found that he was by a pond. The pond has grown lotus and their leaves were big enough to hold him. He jumped on one of it, moistened his body with the clear pond water, wetted his dry eyes and cracked mouth. Instantly he felt relaxed and released as he heard some wonderful sound flicking his ears. He didn’t know what it was. He just had never heard something so wonderful before. He peered from the pond, looked around the place was quiet and neat, and then saw a small human object sitting inside a house. This human appeared to be much more approachable. The navel frog looked at her for a long time as she was flicking something that made those wonderful sound.
The sounds were so good to hear, that made him want to sing. Hence, he started singing his favorite song of the rain frog traditional hymn. In the rainy season of the rain frog village, everyone must had sung this song. The name of this song was Rain Call. It literally meant calling the rain. The navel frog still remembered each word of it. He sang: “Gero, gero, gero, gero, gero, gero….”
After he sang for a while, the wonderful sound stopped, and that small human was approaching to him. She walked near to the pond, seemed looking for where was the singing came from. The navel frog immediately hid shyly under the stalk of lotus, but stick out his two big round eyes to peek at her closely.
She had a round face and a small noise. Her face was very white, with long straight shiny black hair covered both side of it. She also had a small mouth with red lips, but still five times bigger than his. Her eyes were thin and long that almost the eyeballs were unseen. She looked so different from him but he was instantly fond of her. He thought: How about this one? She seemed adorable and unharmed. If I have to be in love with a human, perhaps, I couldn’t find anyone better than her. But, if she was so nice, would she be falling in love with me?
Then he remembered the trick again. However, she was wearing clothes. How could I saw her navel? While he was wondering, he heard a human sound shouting from the house: “Princess! Be careful! Don’t drop into the pond!”
Another human object was running nearby. She carried a piece of thick clothe, covered it on the shoulder of that Princess, and said: “Please! Princess, it is cold outside. Let’s get into the room.”
The navel frog was frustrated to see her wearing more clothe, thought: How can I see her navel, if she was wearing so many clothes? With a little help of wizard, he got a naughty idea and believed that it would actually work. He promptly hopped from the lotus leaf, bounced himself high up to the air in front of the Princess, then dropped into her collars right before she was pushing back to the room.
The Princess shouted: “Oh! Nanny! A frog got into my clothes.”
Nanny heard it, immediately helped to take off her first layer of clothes. When she just found the rain frog clinging on the Princess’s collars, it had hopped into her second layer of clothes. Then the Nanny helped to take off her second layer of clothes. When she just found the vicious rain frog, it sneaked into her third layer of clothes. And then again and again, up to the sixth layers of clothes until the navel frog was exhausted.
As he was taking rest by her collars, gasping and wondering how many more layers her clothes would be, the enraged Nanny fiercely swept him away with her palm. She was really irritated by this little mischievous frog. She saw it dropped on the floor in front of her feet. She intended to lift her foot to smash on it. But the Princess stopped her, said gently: “No, Nanny, just let it go!”
The Nanny reluctantly yielded. She picked up all the layers of clothes that scattered on the floor, said grumpily: “How should there still be a rain frog in the autumn? It is very weird!” When she stood up and saw the Princess was wearing only one layer of under clothe, she panickily screamed: “Oh! No, Princess, please wear the kimonos! Are you cold? Are you all right? You shouldn’t dress only one layer of kimono…”
While the Nanny anxiously laid the kimonos on the tiny body of this Princess, she was watching at the lotus pond curiously. The navel frog had already hidden under the lotus blossom and he was also watching her at the same time. He wondered: “Is she looking for me?” as he was thinking that, he felt throbbed, for the first time of his whole life.
In the night, when everybody was gone, it was very quiet in the garden. There were no more chirping of birds and insects. Not a single cicada or cricket was left after the last day of summer. But a frog call raised secretly.
“Gero …gero …gero …gero …gero…” The call was slow and hesitant, it sounded cautious and uncertain. The navel frog doubted it was the right time to call again. Perhaps it was rude to call so late in the night. When he saw the light in the room was eclipsed, he was disappointed. So, he stopped gero.
After he stopped, the rustle of falling leaves were replaced. Unexpectedly, someone walked to the pond and muttered: “Are you still there?”
The navel frog was surprised and happy, but he didn’t respond right away. He listened to the silence for a while, then carefully gero once. The Princess was pleased as she confirmed that the rain frog was still there. She smiled and said quietly: “Why are you here? I have never seen a rain frog in the palace. I heard that they only were found in the rice field.”
The navel frog didn’t know how to answer. It was inappropriate to tell the truth, he believed.
The Princess said again: “You must be lost. Don’t worry, tomorrow I will ask someone bring you back to the rice field.”
“No! I don’t’ want to go back to the rice field…” The navel frog shouted. The Princess continued, as if she didn’t hear, said: “Even I like your gero and glad to have your companion, but I think you should go back to the rice field where you have your kind of friends.”
The navel frog leaped from the lotus leaf and said: “I am happy to be your companion too. I wanted to stay here, do you understand? You didn’t, did you?”
The Princess giggled and said: “Very nice sound. Even I don’t know why frogs gero a lot.”
She seemed didn’t understand a single word but only heard gero gero gero when he talked. As she turned around and walked away, the navel frog hurriedly gero twice to test.
The Princess stopped, came back to the pond, ardently searching around to see where was the rain frog, said pleasantly: “Gero, gero, I like your voice. Does it mean anything?” She didn’t wait for the answer since she realized that she was talking to herself: “If you were going back to the rice field tomorrow, could you please gero more tonight for me?”
Once she said, the navel frog gero three times readily before he took a deep breathe to gero continuously: “Gero, gero, gero, gero, gero, gero, gero ……” until the Princess laughed.
She said: “That…. that is so nice! Thank you! You seemed understand what I said, but I am sorry, I can not understand what you said. If I did, that would be very nice.” After she said that, she slowly turned around and walked back to her room.
The navel frog leaped on the top of a lotus head, looking over her tiny shadow disappeared behind the paper door. He now realized that it didn’t matter he talked or gero, she heard the same thing. Thus, he just kept gero gero gero dolefully for the rest of night.
The next day, the Princess really asked some gardeners came to pick up the rain frog. She requested them to do the job gently and brought it back to the rice field tenderly. However, the gardeners have been looking for it all morning but couldn’t find anything even similar.
The Princess supposed it probably left by itself. She was hoping it could reach the rice field safely. She heard that even the nearest rice field was mile away from the palace. However, when the night came, and the garden was quiet. She heard gero gero gero again. She was delighted to hear its voice again. She ran to the pond, knelt on the floor, looking for it, but it was too small to see in the dark. Nevertheless, the frog calling was promising each night to accompany her sweet dreams.
Many nights had passed by like that. The navel frog just gero for her but didn’t do anything about his navel. Yet, he worried about his navel less and less. He was joyfully singing each night and listening to what the Princess said to him. The only thing he was dissatisfied that was he could not talk back to her.
One day, when the Princess was not there in the room. The navel frog was sluggish. He lounged on the withering lotus leaf, having an autumn sunbath, and leisurely watching the drifting clouds. Suddenly, something dripped from the sky. He hopped to avoid, saw that was a smear of bird shit. He looked up to the sky, as a white shadow descended on the edge of pond, said rudely: “What are you still doing here? Idiot! Haven’t you seen her navel yet?”
It was the wise heron. The navel frog was alarmed and bothered, said: “No… I just haven’t gotten a chance.”
The heron paddled his wings, said agitatedly: “Don’t you know that you do not have much time. have you noticed that it is getting colder and colder each day? You see! this lotus pond, when all the leaves and lotus heads were turned brown, there will be frost and snow…”
“So…” the navel frog didn’t get the point and the urgency. The heron signed and explained patiently: “I see, you are the first-year rain frog, you don’t know that there is no winter for the rain frogs, do you?”
“Winter? What does it look like?” the navel frog asked naively.
The heron proclaimed exaggeratedly: “The winter– is the time of resting, withering, declining and dying. There was no life and no motion. Only cold and cold. Everywhere is snow covered, no food, no fun and no ….”
“Really?” The navel frog was suspicious.
“And you! A rain frog…” The heron pointed at his nose, said sternly: “… has to be slept through the winter. If you were not, you surely have no second spring for your life.”
The navel frog started to believe and picnic, asked anxiously: “Then, what should I do? I don’t want to die. I wanted to see the next spring and the next summer.”
The heron flapped his wings in the air, said strictly: “See her navel or just forget about yours.”
“Yes, I will, I will see her navel. I felt that she is fond of me, but what the use of being eloquent as a frog? She actually couldn’t understand what I said. For all my words became gero gero to her ears.” The navel frog was frustrated.
The heron then calmed down to explain: “I don’t blame you for I didn’t tell you that.” He extended his long wings before said: “In this universe, you know, we have many many kinds of thing, but only humans are different from us. They cannot understand our talks. They cannot even understand each other talks. That was doomed, but there are still love in between them. So, you see, it all depends!”
“If it was like that, without communication, how can we fall in love?” The navel frog was disheartening.
The heron looked up to the sky and saw a group of goose passing by. He looked hustling, answered hastily: “Fall in love with heart not mouth, isn’t it?” After saying that, he flew to the sky as dropped his last word: “I have to migrate, see you next spring!”
The navel frog was helplessly seeing him off. He felt abruptly so lonely and scared.
The navel frog was still gero gero for the Princess, but got no chance to see her navel until one night she came to the pond with a dish of human food.
She was looking for him in the pond and said intently: “I brought you something to eat tonight? I wondered do you have enough food in the pond…”
With the glow of the full moon tonight, she could easier spot where the little rain frog. It was lying on a brown lotus leaf. The freshly green of his body was so appealing under the moonshine. She took the food from the plate and stick it out to the pond, said: “You see! this is dango, the traditional food for middle autumn. It was made by mochi, and it is round as the full moon.”
“Dango? Mochi?” the navel frog realized that he was getting more difficult to find insects around the pond and the grass field. They were dying out or hiding. He was starved for some days but he had never eaten human food. He was hesitant he wanted to taste it.
The Princess saw that it had no response, she took back the dango and said: “You don’t like it probably. I am sorry I don’t know what you like…”
“No! I like it.” The navel frog jumped up and down from the lotus leaf as he said. The Princess saw that he jumped so amusingly, she giggled and said: “I like your jumps, as much as your geros. You really know what I like and do please me a lot. But I don’t know what you like. I don’t even know what do you like to eat.” She was felting guilty.
The navel frog blurted out: “I like to see your navel.” But of course, she could only hear gero gero gero.
The Princess put the dango on the floor and said: “This dango is much bigger than you. You cannot eat perhaps, but you can play with it.”
The navel frog leaped again, landed on the top of the dango. The Princess was gratified and laughed, said: “You are really so small. You are just about as big as my thumb.” As she said, she placed her thumb by the side of the rain frog to measure.
The navel frog was so closed to her that he could see her collars was opened. It was the great chance to jump inside and see her navel. However, he didn’t want to do that. He just couldn’t do such a nasty thing to her any more.
So, he leaped on her thumb instead. The Princess was surprised it did so. She thought that these kind of little animals, birds or insects, would usually run away from the humans. But this rain frog didn’t. She felt instantly a special attachment with it. She lifted it in front of her eyes, gazed at it thoroughly, and said: “You are so beautiful.”
The navel frog was very moved, and said to her: “You are so beautiful too.”
While the two were gazing each other, suddenly someone shouted in the room: “My little princess, what are you doing out there?”
As that human said, he has already presented in front of them. The navel frog immediately recognized him, the big human he saw his navel the first day he was in the palace. He was so scared to see him again. He jumped from the thumb of the Princess back to the pond, and hid under a withered lotus leaf.
The Princess said: “Father! I am… just looking at the moon.” She was trying to covered up for the rain frog.
The Father said: “Moon? What fun of looking at it? Come, I brought you many new toys, let come to see!”
The Princess said submissively: “Yes, Father.” Then she was walking away with him. The navel frog leaped out from the leaf and yelled: “No, don’t go! Please! I knew that you don’t want to play the toys, you wanted to be with me.”
As he yelled, the Father stopped and looked back, said suspiciously to his daughter: “Did you say something?”
The Princess answered gently: “No, Father.”
The Father shook his head, smiled and said: “Well, let’s go!”
“You are such a bulky ugly thing! How could you have such a delicate beautiful daughter!” The navel frog grumbled behind by himself. Unexpectedly, the Father stopped and looked back at the pond again. This time he was annoyed, for he was pretty sure he heard something, said angrily: “Who is talking?”
The navel frog was shocked, it seemed that this bulky human was able to hear and understand his words. He then tested again, said loudly intentionally: “I think your daughter was in love with someone. And she liked to play with me more than with you.”
The Father instantly stood his eyebrows and asked her daughter anxiously: “Are you in love with someone?”
The Princess was so embarrassed asked by his father with this kind of question, she just blushed but didn’t answer.
The Father laughed and said: “It is all right to be in love with someone, my daughter, you are already 12 years old. But the point is whom? Whom are you in love with?”
The Princess was totally baffled. She never thought of this kind of thing. She didn’t know why Father suddenly came up with such a question.
As she was silent, the navel frog answered for her: “Your daughter is in love with me.”
“What did it say? And who are you?” The Father marched ahead to the edge of pond, searching the sound where it came from. As he saw a frog leaping onto the lotus head, he momently smiled and bewildered, said: “Oh! It is you! My dear loved one. Don’t you know that I missed you so much!”
The navel frog didn’t know where he got the courage. He wasn’t afraid of this big human anymore, said frankly from his heart: “Yes, it is me. I saw your navel, but it was an accident. I didn’t mean it. I am very sorry. I don’t love you. I loved your daughter!”
Now, the Princess also saw the rain frog. She was so stunned that her father was able to talk to him, she asked ardently: “Father, you understand what it said? What does it just say?”
“This toad said it loves you!” The Father was infuriated, as he said that, he seized the frog with his big palm, grasped it and said madly: “Nonsense! It is crazy!” He shouted to the Princess for the first time: “You can in love with anyone else, but not this toad!” After saying that, he grabbed the frog and left. Before he ran out of the house, he told the Nanny: “You kept eyes of her, don’t let her leave the room until I told her.”
The Princess was so confused and frightened. The Father had never been acting like that to her. And also, he was able to talk to the rain frog! He said it loves me? What does it mean? What is happening? Am I in love with someone?
The Princess was extremely perplexed and depressed.
The navel frog was captured and imprisoned in a bird cage. The big human that he saw the belly was crazy about him. He brought all the precious things in the palace and all the good food he could find in the realm he dominated to please his beloved frog. But the navel frog was not interested at all.
The big human was thwarted. He shook the bird cage and shouted: “What do you want me to do? That you would be happy about me?”
“Nothing.” The navel frog has not been eating for many days. He was weak and tired, said feebly: “I wanted nothing from you. All the things you brought means nothing to me. I cannot eat gold and silver. I only eat flies and mosquitos. I can not wear silk and brocade. I only need fresh water to cover my skin. I cannot be happy if I was in this bird cage. I will die if you didn’t release me now.”
The big human didn’t believe, said grudgingly: “You won’t die! Why? It is so warm and nice here. You see, it is snowing so hard outside. If you were outside now, you will surely die.”
The navel frog clung on the bars, looked outside at the garden through the window. It was just a piece of white and the grass field he used to catch mosquitos and flies was totally covered with that so-called snow. He had never seen such a scene in his life. He was devastated but enthralled, suddenly he missed someone very much, said unconsciously: “I wonder how the Princess is now? In this kind of cold day, none of a little sound she can hear, no chirps, no tweets, no geros…”
The big human heard that he mentioned about his daughter, he struggled more, said painfully: “My loving daughter is sick. I cannot lose her. But I cannot keep my mind out of you either. I love you both, but you two love each other.”
“The Princess is sick?” The navel frog was so worried, said: “Then, what are you still doing here? You should have been with her.”
The big human said with agony: “But, I can’t, I can’t put you down. I just can’t…”
The navel frog realized that he was bewitched. He wished the wise heron was here, that he could ask him how to resolve it. He actually felt pity to this big human. He was not supposed to suffer for this, said: “It was all my fault. I am terribly sorry. I should have not seen your navel at the beginning. I told you that it was just an accident. I didn’t intend to see it.”
The big human was vexed. He heard the frog said about it many times. But he couldn’t control himself. He was crazily in love with this little thing. He wanted so much that it could love him too. He was pondering how this happened. He tried to reason it: “But… why? I cannot forget about you since you have seen my navel!”
The navel frog saw that he was willing to listen, so he leaped in front of him, looked at his big face, told him everything honestly: “It was a trick! Just a trick. In order to get rid of my unnecessary navel, I need to be in love with a human. In order to have a human loved me. I have to see his navel.”
“It was just a trick?” The big human sounded awakening.
The navel frog said unthinkingly: “Yes, I supposed that it is wrong to trick someone to be loved. I should have not believed in it at the first place. The wise heron is too wise but irresponsible. Well! He is migrating now. I don’t think he can hear, I don’t think he will know what is happening to me in fact, and I don’t think I can see him next spring…”
While the navel frog was murmuring to himself. Suddenly, he heard a sound of click. He looked back and saw that the door of the bird cage was opened. He was surprised. He cautiously moved himself outside of the cage, looked around the room stuffed with all the valuable things in the human world, but he didn’t see the big human who brought them here. He wondered when and why he left without a word.
He was free now. But he was scared. He didn’t know what he should do and where he should go? Looking at outside, it was totally white that looked so frightful to him. Since he was born, he had never seen so much white. And snow was something absolutely unknown to him. He jumped from the table, hopped and hopped towards to the door. The door was left opened. He was almost frozen instantly by a blast.
He thought of the Princess. Thought of if she was sick, he wanted to at least sing for her, even though he knew nothing about healing a human. This simple wish gave him the courage to make the first hop out of the room. He hopped and hopped on the snowy path. A hop by a hop, hopping back to the pond of the Princess’s room.
But he lost on the way for everything was covered with snow. All the identified objects were concealed and the grass field he used to passing by were generally became just a plain. He lost his sense of direction. It was freezing cold and windy. He was hungry and weak. He finally stopped hopping, and felt like this was his last moment. He opened his round big eyes, gazing at the crystal white snow flake, sang his favorite song: “Gero… gero… gero… gero… gero…”
He didn’t know that he was actually just behind the window of Princess’s room. The ill Princess heard the geros. She immediately woke up from bed, ran out of the room, and found the rain frog as like a little raindrop on the snow. When she saw him, he was about to become ice. The Princess pick it up on her palm, said tearfully: “Don’t die!”
The rain frog didn’t answer. He has already lost conscious. The Princess was very sad. She didn’t know why she just couldn’t let it go. She was sick and has been laying on bed for many days. She was only wearing a couple layers of Kimono. But her body was still warmer than the rain frog. So, she put it into her collars, that she wished it could be revived.
The navel frog slipped down to her belly where was so warm and soft. After a while, his tiny body was gradually revitalized. When he opened his eyes again, he found himself laying on a belly button and saw a hand protecting him through the white kimono.
He was amazed, said faintly: “You have such a beautiful navel, but do you know? You don’t have to fall in love with me even I have seen it.”
“What do you mean?” the Princess replied with her delicate voice: “Do you know? I have… perhaps… fallen in love with you long ago, from the first time you sang gero for me.”
The Princess replied to him?! The navel frog was so joyful and jumped from her belly, said: “You…you can hear me, you can understand what I said!”
The Princess asked: “Seeing the navel… is it the reason why my father could understand your words?”
“Yes…but, it was different… that…I can really talk to you.” The navel frog said shyly.
The Princess smiled and said: “Now we can talk with words, but don’t you think, we were also talking when you gero ……” Suddenly she sneezed.
The navel frog said caringly: “You are sick. You must go back to the room.”
The Princess stood up, said sturdily: “No, I don’t want to go back to the room anymore. I wanted to bring you to a place.”
“A place?” the navel frog wondered.
The navel frog was carried by the Princess while he was still inside her kimono. He felt vital and cozy as like he was back to his mother belly. Gradually he smelled something familiar. He remembered that soggy and steamy exactly the same of the first day in the palace when he saw the navel of her father.
The Princess said: “This is the private hot spring of the palace. It is exclusive to the royal families. This place is warm and moist all year around even in the harsh winter. You can stay here until the next spring when the snow melted that you can go back to the rice field.”
The navel frog was grateful for the kind thought of Princess but silent. He felt somewhat melancholy. He totally forgot the purpose of coming here. He was reminded unwillingly that the wise heron said: After you get one fell in love with you, remember to get a kiss for proof, then your navel will be disappeared.
He didn’t care about the proof and his navel. But he did want to kiss her. Though, even he was kissed, and his navel disappeared, that meant nothing to him anymore. He knew that he could not survive without the rice field, but he perhaps could not survive without her either. He was struggling.
During his silence, the Princess walked into the pool of hot spring. As the navel frog was immersed into the warm glossy water, he instinctively swam. He swam and swam and was out of the kimonos. He had never known that he could swim so well. He enjoyed the lukewarm water very much. It was so soft, so tender and so sensitive that he felt like kissing.
Yes, he was kissing indeed with the Princess. But, no, she was not the Princess, not anymore. She transformed to a frog, a rain frog as same as him.
The two rain frogs swam and swam in the spring and hid under a rock. Suddenly a human was screaming from the distance, said: “Oh! No, Princess is disappeared!”
Nanny ran to the pool, saw that only her white silky kimonos were left and floating on the water. She was almost fainted. The Princess’s father heard that her daughter was disappeared, he jumped out of the room and ran to the pool. He was flustered as he saw the kimono she left. He asked the Nanny severely: “Where did she go?”
The Nanny said timidly: “Princess became…a… frog.”
The Princess’s father was astounded but calm, asked again: “Did you see that?”
The Nanny was frightened, she knelt on the floor, said tremblingly: “No, but… Princess was just still there. When I came over, I saw… two frogs swimming. It was extremely unusual to see frogs in the winter.”
The Princess’s father stepped into the pool, probing around her loving daughter until he saw a little green thing emerged from a piece of rock. He intuited that was her daughter from the way she looked at him. And next to her was the other frog. They were coyly hiding and fearfully watching.
The father was watching back wistfully. After a while, he walked back and told the Nanny, said decisively: “From now on, no one is allowed to get into this hot spring, and from now on, no one is allowed to harm any rain frogs under my regime. You tell everyone, this is the King’s order. Do you understand?”
The Nanny immediately bowed and said: “Yes! I understand.”
Before the cherry blossomed again, the couple of rain frog hopped and hopped back to the rice field. The navel, no, his navel had been disappeared. The gero frog saw the first frog by the rice field was his buddy frog. When the buddy frog saw him, he was overjoyed. He hopped up and down, shouting and calling the others frogs, at the same time said: “Where have you been? My friend, we had looked for you last year before hibernated. We had counted and counted but still one less. We thought you must not survive through the winter. Now you are here! What a miracle!”
The gero frog hugged the buddy and the other buddies and relatives. He introduced the Princess frog to them. He was glad that she was welcomed and accepted. Soon there would be the busy time to breed and nurse the new generation of rain frogs. Every rain frog was happy to have one more couple frog.
Under the bloom of cherry trees. Each couple of rain frog was looking for their places to do so. The gero frog and the Princess frog couldn’t find a seclude place for themselves. The Princess frog was looking so shy and uncomfortable. The gero frog hence brought her to the water passage. He held her hands, kissed her below a rock, but suddenly he was picked up by a long beak. The Princess frog was horrified, she hopped out the rock and said toughly: “Put him down! Please! Don’t you hurt him?”
The heron then looked at the frog in his beak and found that it was the navel frog, he immediately dropped him down, but saw that his navel was gone. He said slyly: “Ha! You have no more navel. I should have eaten you.”
The gero frog said playfully: “Well! Why didn’t you?”
The heron said: “Ah! You are getting much tougher. I knew that, it is more difficult to pick the rain frogs than the clams now. We can’t even get closer to the rice field, the humans will shu…shu….” The heron paddled his wings, as he looked at the Princess frog, said mysteriously: “This elegant rain frog must be the human one you saw the navel.”
When he mentioned about that, the gero frog had something to compliant, said: “Why are you so wise, but didn’t tell me ahead she would become rain frog after kissing me?”
The wise heron shrugged his feather, said rashly: “How could I tell you everything? I know so many things. You didn’t care about that at that time, did you? You just wanted to get rid of your navel. Why should I bother to tell you something you were not interested?”
The gero frog was embarrassed, but he had to admit, nodded and said: “All right, you are always the wise one. Over all, I am happy to have her, but I am sorry for she has to separate with her father.”
Abruptly, there were a hustling in the rice field. They were wondered what happened. The heron immediately flew up to the sky to see. When he came down, he said: “It was the King came to plant the rice seedling. That is why so noisy!”
“My father?” The Princess frog was thrilled. She leaped so high, hugged the gero frog, and the heron as well. Since then, the King came to plant the first row of rice seedling in the spring became the custom of this oriental island. As all the rain frogs were protected and lived happily, the once only navel frog and his princess frog loved each other until forever.