In today's story, The Frog and the Lotus, a frog goes on a quest for a magical blue lotus
The tale in this story has the flavor of a fable, though you can draw your own conclusions about its moral!
More about Susan Quilty
Susan Quilty mainly writes novels, including two standalone novels and her current YA series: The Psychic Traveler Society. Susan's short stories for Freely Written are created during quick writing breaks and shared as a way to practice her narration skills before she dives into recording audio versions of her novels.
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Below is the transcript for Season 1, Episode 66 of Freely Written, a podcast by author Susan Quilty:
Welcome to Freely Written where a simple prompt leads to a little unplanned fiction.
[Light piano music]
Hi, friends! I’m Susan Quilty and today’s prompt is The Frog and the Lotus.
Today’s prompt came to me while I was practicing yoga. On a shelf just across from my mat, I have a statue of a frog sitting in lotus pose. He’s happily meditating with his eyes closed and his hands in jnana mudra. The one that looks like “okay” symbols with the palms facing up.
As practice began, I remembered that I still needed to write this week’s story. I opened my eyes, and there was my little frog friend. While I tried to clear my mind and move through practice, little snippets of story kept creeping in. Something about a frog going on a quest for a special lotus, maybe a blue lotus…?
By the time I sat down to write, the ideas were overflowing. Though I still had no idea where the story would go. Which is okay because that’s how this podcast works.
As a reminder, this is my process for every episode: I write a bit of fiction from a prompt, with no planning and very little editing, and then I share that story with you.
Here’s how today’s story turned out.
The Frog and the Lotus
It was a cool, damp morning. A light rain had fallen through the night, dancing across the surface of the pond and ruffling the lotus flowers that clustered in a bevy of deep pink. As the sun rose, early light shimmered on the remaining droplets of rain and glinted from the open patches of water.
The frog poked her head above the water and blinked slowly. The last of the rain had stirred up a fine breakfast and she was content to laze in the gradual warmth of the rising sun. Yet there was a thought nagging at the back of her mind.
It was an idea she couldn’t quite remember. Or a conversation she’d nearly forgotten.
She thought back over the previous day. She’d explored a tree branch with some friends and had a close call with the crane that liked to swoop through at various times of the day. Yet none of that seemed related to whatever idea she was trying to remember.
Setting the disruptive thought aside, the frog thread her way between some reeds and gazed across the pond. The lotus flowers were still closed tight, their petals folded in to form gentle tapers.
Looking more closely, the frog could see a few pink petals beginning to unfurl. The lotus waking up to the morning sun.
“Lotus flowers!” the frog croaked in delight. That was it! The memory she’d been trying to retrieve was about a lotus flower.
The frog blinked at the array of pink lotus blossoms. The memory rushed in more clearly.
She had been sheltering from a strong bout of rain, crouching in reeds very much like the ones she now inhabited, when a dragonfly had suddenly hovered before her. He flew unsteadily, his wings bedraggled, and the frog had prepared for an easy meal.
Yet before she could lap him up, the dragonfly had made an urgent plea.
“Please don’t eat me,” he’d begged. “If you let me rest here and pass the night unharmed, I will tell you where to find a magical blue lotus that will make your wishes come true.”
The frog hadn’t been sure about that deal. She was rather hungry, and the dragonfly would help her get through the wet night. Still, the idea of a blue lotus that granted wishes was appealing. If it were true, she could wish for all the dragonflies she could eat.
“All right,” the frog had agreed hesitantly. “Tell me where to find this blue lotus and I’ll spare you throughout the night.”
“Not yet,” the dragonfly had buzzed. “I will tell you in the morning. If I tell you now, there is nothing to stop you from eating me.”
“Very well,” the frog had granted. “I will wait until morning.”
The dragonfly, too tired to fly another inch, had settled on a reed and promptly fell asleep. It had been a tempting sight for the frog, but she had promised not to eat the dragonfly during the night.
When morning came, the dragonfly would share the location of the blue lotus and the frog could gobble her up without breaking her word.
Remembering their conversation now, the frog darted her eyes from reed to reed. The dragonfly was nowhere in sight. He had flown off in the night without keeping up his end of the deal.
The frog grimaced. She did not like missing out on a meal, and she certainly didn’t like missing out on something as marvelous as a wish-granting blue lotus.
“Well,” the frog said to herself. “I don’t need the dragonfly. I can find the blue lotus on my own.”
Leaving the shelter of the reeds, she swam across the water toward the nearest patch of lotus flowers. Pink, pink, pink. Every blossom was pink. She splashed in frustration and a fish bobbed up to see what was causing such commotion.
“I’m looking for a blue lotus,” the frog told the fish. As she told the story of the visiting dragonfly, more fish popped up to the surface to listen.
“But all of the lotus blossoms are pink,” the frog finished sadly.
“Only on this side of the pond,” one of the fish corrected.
“What?” the frog blinked at the gathering of fish, unsure which had spoken.
“There are white lotus on the far side of the pond,” another fish offered.
“Are you sure they’re white?” the frog asked urgently. “Could any of them be blue? Perhaps a pale blue?”
The fish murmured among themselves. They rarely peeked above the water, and it might be difficult to discern a white lotus from a pale blue one from below the pond surface.
“There could be a blue lotus there,” the fish agreed. They liked to be helpful.
“Thank you!” the frog croaked happily.
The far side of the pond was a long journey. It would take a good portion of the day, but the frog was determined to find the magical blue lotus without the dragonfly’s help.
The day carried on. The sun rose and the lotus opened their petals. The frog made her way across the pond, checking each lotus she passed but finding only pink blossoms.
Just after midday, the frog passed a large stretch of open water and came upon a patch of white lotus. She croaked in joy, swimming about in search of the slightest tinge of blue.
After several minutes, the frog knew the search was hopeless. Every lotus blossom gleamed a warm, creamy white.
The water rippled as the fish popped up beside the frog.
“Did you find it?” they asked excitedly. “Did you find the blue lotus?”
“No,” the frog frowned. “That sly dragonfly was probably lying. I bet there’s no such thing as a blue lotus that grants wishes.”
“Oh, yes there is!” A voice called from the edge of the pond.
The fish promptly dropped between the surface and swam away. The bewildered frog looked for the source of the voice.
“Who said that?”
“Don’t be afraid,” the voice continued. “I won’t hurt you.”
The crane inched closer, and the frog dove beneath the nearest lotus.
“Wait!” the crane called. “I know where to find the blue lotus. I’ll take you to it if you help me, too.”
The frog peeked above the water.
“You won’t eat me?”
The crane said, “I will stay right where I am.”
The frog judged the distance between them and decided the crane could not reach her from there. She told the crane what the dragonfly had told her.
“But there is no blue lotus,” she finished sadly.
“Not in this pond,” the crane agreed. “The blue lotus only grows up on the mountain.”
The frog glanced beyond the pond to the mountain that towered in the distance. If that was the location of the blue lotus, it might as well not exist at all.
“I could fly you there,” the crane offered.
The frog pulled back. “Oh, no. You would eat me if I let you get close.”
“I wouldn’t,” the crane promised. “I need your help.”
The frog tilted her flat face skeptically. “How could I help you?”
“The blue lotus only grants three wishes and I’ve already gotten mine. If I fly you up there, you could give me one of your wishes in payment.”
The frog considered, remembering her plans for the dragonfly.
“What would stop you from eating me once you got what you wanted?”
The crane thought about that.
“You could use one of your wishes to protect you from being eaten,” he suggested. “That would still leave you one wish to ask for anything else you want.”
The frog thought that over. She could not see a flaw in the plan. She would wish to protect herself from being eaten, wish for an unending supply of insects to eat, and give the crane whatever he wanted as his third wish.
She had everything covered, unlike the silly dragonfly that had come so close to being her breakfast.
“All right,” the frog agreed. “We have a deal.”
“Wonderful,” the crane crowed. “Now come closer and I will carry you up the mountain.”
“And you won’t eat me?” the frog reiterated. “Because if you do, you won’t get your wish from the blue lotus.”
“Would I miss my chance at a wish?” the crane asked.
The frog thought about the wonder of a wish-granting blue lotus and decided the crane would be foolish to pass that up.
She swam right up to the crane, forgetting the value of an easy meal.
Aw, poor frog. Thanks for listening. If you liked this story, please share it with your friends. You can also look through my previous stories and listen to any title that sounds interesting.
You can also check the show notes for links to connect with me on social media, visit my website, SusanQuilty.com, or support my writing through Patreon.com/SusanQuilty.
Until next time, try a little free writing of your own. Let go of any planning and see where your imagination takes you.
[Light piano music]