She never had to dissect a frog. She grew up in a country where you learned most things from books. You didn't have to experience everything in person. It just wasn't done. Though chemistry involved some in person experiments that mostly worked out and contributed to the general amazement of being alive in such a fascinating world. Geography—now that would have been up her alley, getting to travel to places before you had to take the quiz about them. As it was, she didn't get to see the Grand Canyon until decades later.

            And then sex. One day a little blue book appeared on the edge of her place setting at the dining room table when she was twelve. She took it and read it in one avid sitting. It was after all a thin book, a pamphlet really. She'd already absorbed assorted rumors and was curious. She also already knew from fairy tales and library books that there was a likelihood of her eventually becoming invested in love with some boy or man. It didn't feel imminent, and she barely made the connection with the little book on the table. It all felt vaguely unappealing and academic. But now she knew more than she had known before. She quietly returned the booklet to the edge of the table. It promptly disappeared. No one ever mentioned it.

            Compared to all the things she read about, including sex, reality kept limping along behind high expectations, like a pale shadow of extravagant promises. Where were all the heroes, the lovers, the bright allies and ferocious enemies, and the ecstasies that were predicted in the small packages of captivating books?

            Essentially, reality remained mild, somewhat like reaching for white yarrow by the side of a dirt road, and a rattlesnake rattled, stand back! And she would stand back, and that was that. Once she read a book about boundaries, but long after she closed its cover, she kept having a hard time saying no. Still, to this day, she is inordinately proud that she made it through life this far, and no frogs were harmed in the process.



Beate Sigriddaughter


Beate Sigriddaughter,, lives in Silver City, New Mexico (Land of Enchantment), USA, where she was poet laureate from 2017 to 2019. Her work has recently appeared in Pure Slush, Crannóg, Gargoyle, and other magazines. Her latest collections are short stories Dona Nobis Pacem (Unsolicited Press, 2021) and poetry Wild Flowers (FutureCycle Press, 2022).


  1. Solid story with a lesson. We need a few more in this stream-brained society.

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