The rain fell in sheets for several days. The river rose and threatened to trespass its boundary. The sky was a deep and smoggy grey, the air thick and moist and warm.
Crickets that normally played loudly at night at last regarded the miserable weather and left. The only sounds now were the drizzling wind and the gurgling of small streams gutting themselves, twisting their way through the miniature gullies in the mud.
The dense fogginess of the rain and the billowing clouds interrupting the sunlight cast dark grey shadows on the trees and distant hilltops, black outlines of leaves danced lazily above the forest floor, cold raindrops cascading through the air, rippling across the surface of the river.
A large fat toad observed all of this in complete reptilian silence. His pimpled, parchment frog skin appeared bloated from the wet, somewhat like a sponge absorbing water, plump, on a rock near the river’s edge.
The toad had come so close to the river with one mission in mind. The toad was going to kill himself. The river was too deep to swim in, and the current would certainly have its way with him in a matter of seconds, and he would be gone, innocuous and forgotten. He had managed to make his way through the forest, picking his way through thick grass and haphazard sticks and tree branches, casualties from the storm.
Unable to cry, and without the physical strength or mental will to actually fall into the water, the toad had settled on the rock, feeling the earthy hardness beneath his feet, dew forming on his leathery skin, slowly breathing in the cool clean air. In the muddy light, the forest was nearly bare of color. Shades of ashy grey and chalk white had been splashed across the forest, muting even the remembrance of vitality and life that normally impermeated the riverbed.
If toads could cry, the lonely toad on the rock shed several tears that were lost among the millions of tears falling quietly from the sky like small dobs of grey paint. If toads do cry, their tears are magical, because although these tears dribbled down the rock and faded out of perceptible sight, a tiny trail of bright green mold grew rapidly on the rock surface.
The toad held his gaze towards the sky, silently cursing the sky, cursing the dark trees and cursing his own sorrow. Overcome with emotion, he endured a flashback from his childhood. In his mind he saw vividly a young human boy-child running and screaming happily through the grass, ceasing his yelling when he noticed the toad sitting in the grass. The child formed a tiny 0 with his lips and bent down to stare at the toad in curiosity. The toad paid the child no heed, and remained lost in thought in the grass. It wasn’t until the child had scooped him up in his pudgy hands that the toad was wrenched from his philosophizing and stared back angrily into the boy’s eyes.
“Put me down” said the toad. “You’re my new pet” the child replied merrily. “Froggy. You’re name is Zo.” The toad narrowed his eyes. “No such thing. If you don’t put me down this instant I’m going to turn you into a marble.”
The child didn’t respond, and instead began to dance around the yard, hopping from foot to foot, making the toad sick to its stomach.

Rain. Grey. Dampness. Misery. The toads eyes glazed over and he remembered where he was. He remembered the things he had done. He had turned the child into a marble. This was just one of the many scenes that played in the toads mind. All of these events occurred several years ago, several hundred years ago some of them, and now the toad was old and weak and forgotten.
As the toad sat reminiscing, the green mold had continued to grow until it covered the entire rock, and was even spreading into the grass. Small white flowers were growing and blooming out of the mold, surrounding the toad, who didn’t notice until he felt himself lifted into the air, sitting on top of a large white flower that was shooting up into the air, apparently growing straight out of the rock. The toad emitted a low throaty rumbling sound of surprise, but it couldn’t do anything. He moved around in a circle, unwilling to hop down, unsure of what to think or do.
Eventually the toad died and the rain continued to fall No one knows the cause of death, or where the toad originally came from, but when the sun finally broke through the clouds and the life began to reawaken in the forest, all the animals were surprised to see a toad, seemingly made of solid brass, set squarely in the middle of a white lotus flower growing out of a rock. No one was ready to disturb it, mostly regarding it as a sign from God, although the interpretation of such a sign was hotly debated.
Many years after the discovery of the sign, a small cult of creatures emerged, devoted to the brass frog. They gathered under the lotus, donating prayers and offerings of berries and nuts and petals, and a festival was held each year in the toads honor. For decades the toad cult prospered, and the forest was in peace. Brightly colored birds flitted from tree to tree, deer and wild dogs came to drink from the river, pastel flowers grew by hundreds everywhere, and the rain came gently during the night, caressing the forest in an erotic gesture of divine love.
But one horrible day a group of children who had lost their way, found themselves deep in the forest, and attracted by the sound of running water, crashed their way through the brush and to the river. The eldest child, a girl of about nine with bright red hair, sighted the toad on the lotus and snatched it up in her greedy hand and stuffed it into her dress pocket.
The children left, never to be seen again. But it didn’t really matter because that night the rain didn’t come. And it never came again. Soon the river dried up, the flowers turned to dust and forest became a desert, a wasteland, parched and dead. Silence overcame the land and it was like it had never existed at all.


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