art by Alan Bao
Not a Prince
by Kathryn Yelinek
Three teenage girls crowded round the terrarium on the desk in Annabel's room. It sat amid an avalanche of fingernail polish bottles and schoolbooks. In one back corner of the terrarium, a frog cowered.
"Kiss it!" Lacey said to Annabel, fanning her freshly pink nails.
"Yeah." Kenzie's blonde ponytail bobbed. "Maybe it'll turn into a prince."
"It's not a prince," Annabel said, but she opened the lid. The frog scurried under a plastic log in its attempt to get away, but her hands were quick, and she scooped it up. The frog squirmed, its tiny eyes bulging, its speckled sides pulsing with effort.
She grinned and kissed the frog.
"Drat, it's just a frog." Kenzie kicked off her flats and flopped down on Annabel's unmade bed. Her brown hair fanned out across the sheets.
"Your mom's so cool." Lacey poked the frog's smooth head. In return, the frog let out an indignant croak. "My mom won't even let me get a fish."
"Does it do any spells?" Kenzie asked. "Is it your familiar?" She stretched the word out, elongating the vowels and emphasizing the L.
"As if." Annabel dropped the frog back into the terrarium. It scrabbled up, trying to jump out, but she snapped the lid back on and piled her Biology and English textbooks on top. The frog sank into the back corner with a mournful croak.
"Can you do a spell?" Kenzie sat up on the bed. "Please."
"Yes!" Lacey said. "Please, please."
Annabel tucked her black hair behind her ears. The left seemed made up of more silver studs than skin. "I'm not supposed to..."
"We won't tell anyone," Kenzie said. "Promise."
"Cross my heart," Lacey added.
Annabel glanced into the hallway. Her mom was supposed to be working on the computer in the kitchen. "Well, okay."