Monday, February 23, 2009

Bedtime story.

Once upon a time there was a tiny tree nymph who was thin and as floppy as a stretched out piece of chewing gum. She dreamed of someday living in a tree, but she was too weak to even sit up, let alone climb, and she felt destined to stick to the ground forever.

One day a leopard ran through the jungle, with one tail acting as a fourth leg, and black spots on his coat that were really holes. He saw the nymph on the ground and knew that she did not belong there. He found her to be beautiful and wanted to be friends with her forever in the jungle.

"I see you on the ground, and I feel that you must need a helping hand," said the leopard.

"Oh, yes! I am very grateful for your kind concern. I do in fact need to find a way to be on my feet, but it seems that I was stretched at some time, and I am very weak and quite flimsy. I desire to live in a tree, but I fear I will never climb!"

"Well," replied the leopard, "I am strong and stable, as you can see. I have four legs and am solid to the core. Let me lift you and I will put you on my back. I can climb the tree and we will live there and be friends in the jungle forever."

The nymph thought a moment and saw that this might be good, but wondered at the possibility of never being able to do this thing on her own.

"No," decided nymph. "I would rather learn to climb on my own. Besides, it would be a burden if you had to carry me around. And I would grow weak and never learn to be a grown nymph or to climb a tree, where I belong. But I, too, would like to be friends forever in the jungle!"

"I will teach you," said leopard. "I will show you how I use my four legs and I will show you how I stay so solid. Soon you will walk beside me and we will both climb and be friends forever in the jungle."

At this, nymph decided to crawl and flop, crawl and flop onto leopard's back. She inched her way to the top and saw the sky for the first time. Leopard began to run and she felt the wind and she was happy. He began to jump and she heard the distance of the ground and smiled and laughed. She felt big. She felt fast. She was moving through the air.

She heard a buzz as a fly approached her. She was just thinking how exciting it was to finally be close to a flying creature, when leopard's tail flew up and swatted the fly from view. A feeling of unbalance came over nymph, and she realized that the leopard had only three legs. She felt scared and asked the leopard, "Why do you fake like you have four legs? "

Leopard growled and and said he was fine. He had four legs and she must be mistaken.

Again the balance was restored and the wind calmed her nerves. She felt big. She felt fast. She was moving through the air.

The day was slipping away, and the moon was full in the sky. Lightening bugs of every size and shape appeared to nymph's delight. She flopped on her back and saw one land by her foot. Leopard's tail flew up and abruptly squashed the bug, spilling the glow all over his own back. Balance was lost, and nymph again became aware that Leopard had only three legs.

"Leopard, why do you hide from me that you only have three legs? We are friends and you know that I have my weaknesses also. Why not share with me and be friends forever in the jungle?"

"I have three legs, is what you say. I guess I might. I make do with my tail, and that's what you should know. You are safe now."

With this, he continued running through the jungle. Nymph felt the wind and was happy. She felt big. She felt fast. She was moving through the air.

Nymph flopped back over onto her stomach and noticed the leopard's spots. The glow from the squished bug lit them up and revealed that they were hollow.

"Leopard, why did you say you were solid? I am weak and stretched and do not move about like I should. I know how to be your friend in weakness, and wish to be friends with you forever in the jungle. You have holes and I am laying on your back. Let me fill them, for I might fall into one and it will be dark."

"Nymph, you do not see right. I have spots. I am solid. You are safe and we will be friends forever in the Jungle."

Leopard jumped and trotted and ran, and Nymph felt the wind and was happy. She felt big. She felt fast. She was moving through the air.

And then she fell into a spot, and it was dark.

"Leopard! Leopard! I am scared! I have fallen into one of your spots that you said was solid! I am weak and I am floppy and I can not pull myself out!"

"Nymph! I am sorry! That was a lie I told you! Yes, I have holes. I am not solid and I do not have four legs. But I am running through the jungle and we will now be friends forever!"

But Nymph did not feel the wind and was sad. She felt small. She felt scared. She felt alone.

"Leopard! Leopard! Please let me out! I am scared and it is dark and I must find the sky again!"

"I cannot make myself solid, and I do not have four legs. I can not pull you out and I wish to be friends forever in the jungle."

Nymph considered this thing. She looked around and flopped on her back. It was true that she had a small view of the sky. It was true that she could still feel that she was moving. It was true that the ground was still far away. She could stay here. She could stay here forever.

But she still could not climb, and she would never live in a tree where she belonged. Besides, she could not see leopard's face and this made her sad and lonely. She did not feel that they could be friends this way.

She flopped and flopped and twisted and turned. She moved and stretched and finally....

she sat up.

She flopped and flopped and twisted and turned. She moved and stretched and finally...

she stood up.

She flopped and flopped and twisted and turned. She moved and stretched and finally...

she pulled herself out of the spot.

Leopard felt this and he was quite sad.

"Nymph, why are you leaving my spot? I though we would be friends in the jungle forever!"

"Leopard, I do not want to live inside your spot. I want to learn to climb and live in a tree where I belong. Can we do this together like you have promised, and be friends forever in the jungle?"

"I do not like you to see that I have 3 legs. I do not like you to know that I am not solid. I will not fill my spots to make them solid and I will not walk on three legs."

It got cold and the wind blew through the jungle fiercely. Leopard was cold and could not keep warm.

"Leopard, it is your holes, which you call spots, that are making it hard for you to stay warm. You need to fill your spots to keep the wind from blowing through you!"

"I am not cold. I will fill my spots when you come back inside. Don't you remember that you filled my spots? I would not be so cold if you did not leave."

"No, leopard, no. I will not go back. I like to walk beside you and I want to be out in the open to feel the wind on my face. You can be warm if you just fill your spots."

And this went on and on, and leopard and nymph both got angry.

Frustrated, nymph, to her own surprise, found the strength to climb a tree. She climbed to the top and felt the wind on her face and was happy. She remembered the leopard and all that he had done for her, and how she felt the wind the first time when she was on his back.

"Leopard, come up here. The sky is beautiful and I want to be friends in the jungle forever."

"I cannot. I have three legs, and I cannot climb. Besides, I am cold and I need to rest to get warm."

"Fill your spots, leopard! If you do this you will be warm. And I am strong now, I can help you up the tree. You will feel the wind on your face and be happy, not cold!"

"I will not do this, nymph. I want to be in the tree, but I don't want to be cold when the wind blows up there. Just come down and get in my spot and you can keep me warm and we will be friends forever in the jungle."

Nymph began to climb down, because she loved leopard. She wondered if being inside leopard's spot would be better than being in the tree where she belonged. But just then a bird flew by.

"Nymph," said the bird, "why are you climbing down? Don't you know you are in the tree where you belong?"

"But I miss leopard and I am sad that he is cold!"

"He is cold because he has holes which he made himself long ago. He still has those holes and he can fill them anytime he wishes. He holds those holes in his fourth leg, which he keeps curled close to his belly so he can keep them safe."

"Why does he do this, wise bird? Doesn't he want to be warm? Doesn't he want four legs?"

"He has forgotten how to be solid. He has forgotten to walk without his tail. He is scared to be slow and heavy."

At this, nymph called out again to leopard, "Leopard! Leopard! Let down your fourth leg! You have your holes in them to fill your spots! You will be warm and be able to climb to be near me! I miss you and I want to be friends forever in the jungle!"

"I do not have a fourth leg, as I have told you. I do not have the holes to fill my spots. I am this way and I cannot be warm unless you come back. I am this way and I cannot climb."

This made nymph cry and cry. She know knew that leopard could climb and be warm, but that he was choosing not to. She cried and cried and repeated her plea. She cried and cried and asked him to just try.

He tried to climb with three legs. He tried to stuff his spots with leaves.

He would not let down the fourth leg. He would not replace the holes he had made.

Time went by and she stayed in the tree. Time went by and he stayed on the ground.

The weather got warmer and leopard felt better.

"I am not cold anymore nymph! I do not need to fill my spots!"

"But the weather will not always stay warm, leopard. And you still cannot climb without your fourth leg."

"You said you would help me, so help me now. I am ready for you to pull me up."

"I will gladly help you if you stuff your spots. I will gladly be your fourth leg forever."

"I do not want to stuff my spots. I do not have a fourth leg."

At this Nymph gave up. She climbed to the very top of the tree. She felt the wind on her face.

But she was still sad.

It would probably be a long time until she could be happy again.


erin said...


that is a great fable.

i loved it even more than my future.

except the last line. it is a good line but maybe it's not really the last line?

Angie said...

I'm not sure yet. It depends on leopard.

Li Lee said...

this is beautiful. thank you.

Angie said...

You're welcome.

Orange Juice said...

beautiful. i cried.

Molly said...


What a difficult situation for Nymph. What she is asking of Leopard is very understandable. Good for Nymph to choose the tree... it is what she wanted from the beginning right? And it is where she is supposed to be. Nymph and Leopard are NOT the only animals in the Jungle.

Sometimes even though we love the friends that bring us down... we have to remember that they do bring us down.

danika said...

angie, I just found your blog and I love your writing :) you are so funny and creative. I hope you'll continue posting!

Anonymous said...

I think the leopard is filling his spots. I think he let down his fourth leg and even though it is weak from not using it for so long, he is starting to use it. He still can't climb high, but he is getting better at it every day. The nymph should just wait a little longer until the leopard can climb up to her. He is begging for her to wait, because he loves her too and wants to live together forever in the jungle.