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Flash Fiction: The Perfect Gift

Iliaran and his twin, Illio, were headed to pay a visit to their mother on the event of the anniversary of her birth. They had brushed their mossy hair and beards carefully, and wore proper, mushroom-hats, new ones with no need for mending. Iliaran had even put on clothes with no paint spatters.

Illio carried a basket of pastries flavored with honeysuckle dew. “And what do you propose to give our Mother?” he asked.

“The pastries aren’t from both of us?”

The tiny, wrinkled elf scowled fiercely. “I made these while you were playing around.”

“I wasn’t playing, I was painting!”

“So, why didn’t you bring her a painting?”

Iliaran had been unsatisfied with his efforts, but wasn’t about to admit it. “Because we were bringing pastries!”

Illio just rolled his eyes, then stepped sideways three times, and vanished.

“That’s right, rush off to see her by yourself. We were supposed to go together!” Iliaran cried, stomping his foot.

As usual, that did no good at all. Iliaran started to look around, hoping for Inspiration. Just outside the wood were some very nice flowers—human-planted, of course, but that made them exotic. They were, of course, quite large, but that could be fixed. He set off toward them, walking to and fro, looking at them from different angles.

Finally, he settled on one. The petals were a deep pink, with shadows verging on majenta, and each one was perfectly shaped, with no flaws. He walked over and shook the stem, hard, and smiled, pleased that the petals all remained perfectly placed, and the scent was heavenly.

But then something green appeared in the center of the flower. “What do you think you’re doing?” said the frog.

“What are you doing in my flower?” asked Iliaran.

“Your flower?” The green frog’s face twisted with astonishment.

“Well, my mother’s flower. At least, it will be when I give it to her. This flower is perfect. There’s not a single insect nibble—“

“Well, I should think not,” said the frog. “This is my flower, and insects who venture close become my dinner.”

“Oh, thank you!”

“For what?”

“For keeping this flower perfect, so I could give it to my mother!”

“You don’t understand. This is my home. I keep it perfect for me.”


A fly came buzzing near Iliaran’s head, and the frog effortlessly grabbed it with a very long tongue. He swallowed, and smiled.

“Well, you could move!”
Photo by S. Lake
“I don’t want to move.”

“OK, then I’ll shrink you along with the flower!”

“Oh, no, that wouldn’t do at all. I’d be smaller than my prey. How would I eat?”

“Well, could I buy the flower from you?”

“With what?”

“Um, gold?” Iliaran reached into his pocket and pulled out a handful of shiny coins.

“Gold is no use to me, even if it were real, and wouldn’t vanish with the sunrise.” The frog’s tongue snapped out again, and again he swallowed happily. “I was thinking about something really worthwhile. Eternal life, good health, true love.”

“Oh, my talents don’t run to anything like that!” Iliaran drooped, rather spectacularly. His lips tended downward, and his shoulders dropped, his hands hung past his knees, and even the tips of his ears hung low.

“Then what are your talents?”

Iliaran brightened. “I paint!” He reached into the between and pulled out an easel, a fresh canvass, and paints. “I could trade you a portrait of yourself in your home. Then you could remember this flower long after it wilts.”

The frog made another skeptical face, but Iliaran ignored it, setting to work with the paints. And as he watched his home bloom on the canvas, the frog started to smile. In a remarkably short time, a perfectly-rendered flower with a smiling frog reclining on one of the petals was done. Iliaran waved his hand over it, muttering a bit of magic to dry it.

“It’s quite good!” The frog admired himself in the painting. “Quite good indeed.”

“Then it’s a deal?”

“No, I didn’t say that. I really have no use for a painting, you know. Besides, you made me too pretty. My girlfriend might be jealous.”

“I can fix that!” Iliaran whipped out the palette and a paintbrush.

“No!” The frog’s tongue was suddenly holding the paintbrush away from the canvas. “It would not improve the painting!” The frog’s speech was quite clear, even with his tongue out, though he let go of the paintbrush once Iliaran’s attention returned to him.

“That’s true. But then, how am I to buy your home?”

“You don’t need to.”


“That painting is a very worthy gift indeed, and was made with your own hands.”

“Yes, it’s the best painting I’ve done all day. Maybe all week!” Iliaran started to dance and whistle.

“So, go on with you then. You’re scaring away my dinner.”

“Huh?” Iliaran stopped.

“Pack up your paints, pick up yon gift, and get thee hence to your mother!”

“Oh, yeah!” Iliaran tucked the art supplies between again, and picked up the painting, started to walk, but stopped and turned. “Thank you! You’ve been a most gracious host, and a wonderful model!” He bowed and left, still whistling.

This story, like the first Iliaran and Illio story, The Big Blue Tent, was inspired by a photo posted by Jay Lake.  This one was taken by S. Lake.

If you can afford to sponsor me, that would be very much appreciated! And whether you can do that or not, please let me know you dropped by, and what you thought.



( 35 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 12th, 2009 01:32 am (UTC)
Nice. I have sent this to Mother of the Child.
Sep. 12th, 2009 03:37 am (UTC)
Thank you! I would be happy to edit the entry to include the picture or a link to it, with appropriate attribution, if that would please her and you.
(no subject) - jaylake - Sep. 12th, 2009 04:12 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wyld_dandelyon - Sep. 12th, 2009 04:48 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jaylake - Sep. 12th, 2009 04:54 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wyld_dandelyon - Sep. 12th, 2009 05:14 am (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 12th, 2009 01:53 am (UTC)
Friday Flash
Yay, a happy story for #fridayflash. I rather enjoyed this tale. Thanks for sharing it with us.
Sep. 12th, 2009 04:07 am (UTC)
Re: Friday Flash
Thank you & you're welcome. I think I will enjoy #fridayflash.
Sep. 12th, 2009 03:33 am (UTC)
Cute story! I'm somewhat partial to frogs. Welcome to #fridayflash!
Sep. 12th, 2009 04:07 am (UTC)
Thanks for the welcome. :-D
Sep. 12th, 2009 09:55 am (UTC)
I like this one, I'm interested in seeing what happens.
Sep. 12th, 2009 01:16 pm (UTC)
You know, I really hadn't planned this sequel to The Big Blue Tent. But then I saw the really cute frog pictures Jay Lake posted. And I found the group doing #fridayflash on twitter, and thought it would be good exercise, and hopefully good advertising, to do a flash piece every Friday.

I was thinking I should branch out, do something different next week, something not quite so, well, Foodie Friend would say "sappy" I think.

But if the right photo comes along, there could well be more.

Sleepy mind to the Dandelyon -- You're talking to a photograpner, you know.

Sleepy Dandelyon to mind -- True. But I doubt Iliaran is visiting New Zealand any time soon.

Sleepy mind to the Dandelyon -- are you sure?

Sleepy Dandelyon -- hush, you'll give him ideas!

Sleepy mind, smiling -- that's my job.
(no subject) - red_trillium - Sep. 12th, 2009 08:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wyld_dandelyon - Sep. 14th, 2009 08:38 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - red_trillium - Sep. 14th, 2009 08:57 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wyld_dandelyon - Sep. 14th, 2009 09:05 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - red_trillium - Sep. 14th, 2009 09:09 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wyld_dandelyon - Sep. 14th, 2009 09:43 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - red_trillium - Sep. 14th, 2009 09:46 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wyld_dandelyon - Sep. 14th, 2009 08:56 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - red_trillium - Sep. 14th, 2009 08:58 am (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 12th, 2009 10:27 am (UTC)
I'm not sure, but the link to the Big Blue Tent story seems to not be working. I liked both stories.
Sep. 12th, 2009 12:55 pm (UTC)
Doesn't make sense -- it looked fine, but it didn't work. So I edited the entry and pasted in the (exact same) url all over again and now it does.

There are days, especially when I'm not feeling well, that I wish Mystery would confine itself to religion, where it properly belongs, and leave both my computer and the internet alone!
Sep. 12th, 2009 01:34 pm (UTC)
Very nicely done. I really enjoyed this story. It's not easy to take a whack at the fairy tale genre, but I think this worked out great. It's entertaining and amusing for both parent and child, and that's also difficult to do.

Nice job, and welcome to #fridayflash!

Sep. 12th, 2009 04:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the comments, and the welcome. (-:
Sep. 12th, 2009 02:20 pm (UTC)
Beautiful, as always.
Sep. 12th, 2009 04:20 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
Sep. 12th, 2009 03:23 pm (UTC)
hee hee hee!
Sep. 12th, 2009 04:19 pm (UTC)
Sep. 12th, 2009 04:56 pm (UTC)
Welcome to #fridayflash!
This was very cute, nice and lighthearted. Those sibling competitions can get tricky :)
Sep. 12th, 2009 05:33 pm (UTC)
Re: Welcome to #fridayflash!
Thank you!
Sep. 12th, 2009 05:58 pm (UTC)
#FridayFlash or #FridayFrog
I love the photo of the frog in the flower. That distracted me at first, and I only then discovered that your story centered on the frog in the flower. This is a delightful story, very well-told. Welcome to #FridayFlash. I can't wait to see what you come up with next.

Jeff Posey
Sep. 12th, 2009 06:52 pm (UTC)
Re: #FridayFlash or #FridayFrog
I love the photo too. Thanks for dropping by!
Sep. 15th, 2009 11:27 pm (UTC)
Loved It
I think whimsy is a beautiful match for flash fiction. You did a wonderful job of telling a charming little tale that made me smile throughout. A great addition to #fridayflash.

The picture is terrific too.
Oct. 2nd, 2009 02:55 am (UTC)
Re: Loved It
I love the picture too. I'm very glad it was OK for me to repost it here with my story.
( 35 comments — Leave a comment )


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