That's-a Big-a Froggy
"Ooof!" howled Big the Cat as he stumbled, struggling for balance. He failed, and he fell to the ground. Sitting up, he rubbed his head. It didn't hurt him, but Big pretended he was anyway.
It reminded him of when his mother would rub his wounds, easing the pain until he felt better, whether it was a scratch or a tummy ache. In this case, only a slight throbbing emerged on his sore area, and it went away before he could blink twice.
Big got to his feet slowly, scratched his behind, then scanned the area. Nope – nobody there. Not that Big cared or wondered about this anyway; company or not, Big was more than happy spending his lazy days with his best frog friend Froggy. Or as Big would say, "Fwoggy."
Big loved Froggy. He loved that frog to death. He loved Froggy so much that he would do anything at all for the squirmy little creature. In fact, Big had nearly drowned himself once in the struggle to rescue his favorite amphibian. Popular consensus on the relationship between feline and anuran was that it was a bit creepy, but cute. Big had no one else to turn to, though, and neither did Froggy, so creepy or not, they were happy being who they were.
But they were happier being who they were and doing something. Big was bored, and he only had the usual couple of activities to pick from: sleep or fishing. Of course, Big was a cat, and cats need a lot of sleep, but he was also a big cat, and big cats need a lot of food. Perhaps this pool of possibilities was plenty large anyway.
Ugh! Decisions. Big hated making decisions. In fact, one of the reasons he moved into the forest was to avoid the frustration of decisions. If he wanted to do something, he would go right ahead and do it. If he didn't want to do something, like clean up his hut, he would continue on his merry way without it, and the litter strewn across the floor of his hut was a testament to just how attractive this concept was.
However, sometimes one had to think on one's feet and make a decision quickly. Sometimes it could be a very serious matter – there were predators lurking around in some parts of the forest, hunters who came by every once in a while, and sometimes there were even...
"Sam! I'm hungry!" someone – maybe a little girl – complained.
"Just be quiet, Flower! We'll find something," another voice replied annoyedly. This voice had also come from a girl, but she was a few years older at least.
Big grinned. New friends, he thought happily. I hope they like fishing. He started off for the girls to introduce himself and his very best friend – oh, no, he thought. Where's Fwroggy?
Socializing would have to wait; Big could do nothing but retrace his steps over to where Froggy was last seen: the hammock. But Froggy is not there. Oh, no, not again! he panicked. Meanwhile, the voices grew closer. Sighing, Big hopped up to his feet, deciding that he would greet his visitors first.
Before Big knew it, however, he collided head-on with the two girls, and everyone stumbled and fell on his or her rear end. Big stared wide-eyed at his visitors – they did not look frightened, only perhaps a little confused. Uh-oh, the cat thought. I was too enthusiastic, and I got carried away again!
The black fox was the first to react. "Kitty!" she cried, pouncing on Big immediately.
Big's eyes widened as the fox wrapped her short arms as far as she could around the cat's large belly. The girl smiled, but she was strong – she nearly crushed Big's stomach – or maybe his stomach was really that soft. Probably both. The hedgehog, the older of the two girls, stomped over to Big, yanked the fox off of him, and grabbed him by the collar.
"What's your problem, bro?!" she shouted at him. "If you hurt Flower in any way – any way at all – I WILL let you have it!"
"But I didn't hurt anyone," Big replied, distressed even more by the prospect of being accused of hurting someone than by the more immediate pain in his own neck. "All I wanted to do is say hi. Let go of my neck, please!" Big begged.
The hedgehog released her hold on the cat, who toppled down again and shook the ground on impact. She examined him closely, searching for anything that could possibly pose a threat about him. "I guess you look pretty harmless," she decided, unconvincingly. "But how about looking where you're going, huh?"
"O-okay," Big replied cautiously.
The hedgehog stuck out her hand towards him. It… looked like a pretty average handshake, but he was just a little spooked after her previous behaviors. She didn't care; she continued anyway. "I am Samantha the Hedgehog – please, call me Sam – and this-" she motioned over to the black fox, who was sitting quietly next to her – "is Flower the Fox."
"Hiya, Sam and Flower," Big greeted them. That was nice – he could relate to them better with a couple of nice names to attach to them. "I'm Big the Cat and I like fish!"
Flower giggled. "He's funny!"
Sam looked over from Big to Flower, then back to Big, then back to Flower. She chuckled. "Yeah, he is," she admitted. "He is kind of cool. Sorry for my attitude; I just can't take any chances with my buddy Flower. She means a lot to me."
"That's okay," Big replies. "I have someone I wanna protect, too-" But thinking of this special friend called to mind the unfortunate memory that they were not together. "Fwooggy!" he bellowed. "Where are you?"
Sam didn't look concerned – she held out her palm with a frog in it. Big jumped with joy, scooping up the green creature in one scoop. "Fwroggy! Fwroggy! Fwroggy! I am so happy to see you! Where have you been?"
"Ribbit," croaked the frog.
"I missed you too, little guy," Big cooed, hugging it. "Where'd you find him?" he asked the hedgehog.
Sam shrugged. "I don't know. At a pond or something." Silence followed between the three.
"Wanna go fishin'?"
Sam and Flower had never fished before, but Big was not bothered by this; he could teach them after all. Anyone could learn. And, as it turned out, they were quite good at it.
All afternoon, the trio fished by the pond with endless fishies – in Big's words, naturally – and caught all kinds of them. Flower even caught a monster-sized fish that required both Sam's and Big's help to wrench from the pond's confines. By evening, Big had enough fish to last him a week or two.
Big marveled at the well-earned prizes. "Lookie at all these fishies," he remarked. "That's-a a lot of fish for me-a."
"Why're you-a talking like-a that-ta?" Sam asked, mimicking his use of that accent from that faraway land where pizza came from.
"Uh… I don't know. Sometimes I like to talk funny."
"'Sometimes…'" Sam muttered.
"That's-a big-a Froggy," Flower said in her own imitation of the accent, behind the hedgehog and cat. She held up Froggy in her hands and grinned. Everyone laughed.
Big's stomach rumbled. "I tink we should eat." He said.
"Ribbit," wheezed Froggy.
"You tink so?"
The girls were staring at him with puzzled eyes. "What is he saying?" Flower asks the purple cat.
"Fwoggy tinks you guys should eat with us," Big answered. His eyes beamed. "Would you like to do that?"
Five minutes later, Sam, Flower, Big, and Froggy all took their seats in the "Dining Room" – more accurately, the middle of the living room and all crowded up in a circle, devouring their catches of the day. Big's two-week prediction hadn't been worth much after all: he ate the most, with half the fish gone in two minutes. Sam and Flower didn't mind though; they had had a big lunch.
The chewing of the meat from the bones eliminated the need for much conversation, and they were all pretty much fine with that. When, at long last, the dinner was nothing but bone, everyone burped and smiled.
"That was good," Sam was the first to speak.
"Hmm-mmm," Flower nodded.
Big's tongue scraped at the corners of his mouth, savoring the taste of fish left over, and eventually he cleared his throat. "You like it?"
The girls bobbled their heads obediently, as if somehow they were activating levers to dispense more.
Big grinned. "Great! Tanks for staying to eat with me!"
"No..." Flower went over to Big, planted a kiss on his cheek and said, "Thank you for letting us eat with you!"
"Out of all the chubby hermit cats we've encountered in this forest," Sam chimed in, "you're the coolest."
Big smiled at the compliment, rubbed at the spot where Flower had kissed him, and grinned. "Why, thank you, Sam! You can come an' stay whenever you want to."
"Maybe we will," Sam mused. "'S not like this area's real estate is packed to the brim with hotels. …Oh, and we like you, too."
Big clapped his giant hands together. "Yippee! Yippee! We gots some new friends! You heard wat she said Fwoggy?" He looked over to the girls. "Tanks for coming once more, I mean it."
The fox and hedgehog nodded, but this took their heads on a brief journey that allowed them to see once again just what kind of room they had dined in. "By the way, Big..." Sam groaned, "ever heard of a maid?"
Big shook his head.
"A maid is someone who cleans up the messes you make, and we just got a new maid."
Big's ears perked up. "Wow, really? Is she nice? Can I have her?"
Smiling and waggling one finger at him, Sam continued. "'She' is a boy and a robot. And yes, our maid is very nice."
"Can I share her – uhhhh, I mean him – wit you?"
"Not unless you live in the mansion with us."
Big's face fell. "But dat means I have to weave the hut."
Sam shrugged. "Well, sometimes that's what happens in life. Ya gotta make sacrifices – in this case, clean dwelling quarters versus familiarity. You pick."
Flower tugged at Sam's shirt. "But he doesn't have to," she reminded the hedgehog. "There's nothing wrong with wanting to stay in his home."
"Yeah, you don't have to, Big," Sam clarified. "It's up to you. It's your decision."
Decisions, again. Big's head turned from the hut to Sam and Flower. He thought. Hard. Did he want to leave or stay? Ugh. Not again. Stupid decisions. Everything was much simpler when Big stayed in his hut. He hardly had to make any decisions; whatever he felt like doing he did at his own pace.
When Big arrives at the house, everyone would probably going to tell him what to do, whether he wanted to or not, and that would be even worse than having to make decisions himself. Including that mysterious supposed maid.
So it was with a wearied heart that as much as Big liked his new friends, he had one older friend he was even closer to. He couldn't leave. "Sorry, Sam and Flower, but that's one pond I won't be fishing in tonight. But don't worry – if a clean house here is what you want, I have a great idea that will suit us both!"
The girls eyed each other in confusion.
"Fwoggy, will you be my maid?"