The girl with the striking blue eyes. My main image of her now from our childhood, her head framed by a bunch of curled blonde hair, but her smile made her eyes pop, slightly wild with abandon. Two little girls playing Jacks over recess. Next it was Pogs.
“No. Don’t you remember Pogs? And try not to step on my toe this time.” Roger tensed up at the mere suggestion of this, but Beverly knew how he could be. It was worth repeating. “Guilty feet have got no rhythm you know? Or hadn’t you received the memo?”
“Quit quoting Wham lyrics and finish the story,” Roger said, rather than answering on the flattened toe thing.
“I just think that some people seem to miss out on the whole adulting thing and stay forever locked in cycles of poor judgment and they’re lost.”
“That’s how life could be for some souls,” Roger said, hoping to put things in perspective. “Our child will soon be here…and life ends and begins again. I don’t mean to come off as harsh, but I’d like to focus on us right now.”
Perhaps, words coming out of his mouth sounding harsh, but his kind brown eyes didn’t reflect it.
“I know,” Beverly relented. “It’s getting harder and harder to dance with this here, have you noticed?” she said, gesturing toward her pregnant stomach.
“So here we are again, four years later,” Roger said, turning the ring on her finger he’d first placed there on their wedding day. “But why we ever chose to get married on Feb. 29th? I’ll never be too sure.”
Beverly knew he’d have picked another day, but she liked the unconventional.
Now here they were again, approaching a Leap Year end to February. “What were the odds that we’d be so close to the baby arriving at the same time.”
Sure enough, within the final days of the month Beverly started feeling the contractions.
“Maybe we’ll make the news,” Roger said as a distraction as they made their way to the hospital.
“You know, like those babies born first in a brand new year or something.”
Beverly squeezed his hand, a little tighter than necessary, but really…?
Once they were all checked in, the doctor popped his head in the room and left again, but that didn’t have to mean there was something wrong. Again, she squeezed her Leap Year husband’s hand and this time, he squeezed back.
But no need to fear. The rest of the labor progressed rather quickly for a first child, and now they could sit back and wait for the media to hear about this special birth.
“I’m going out to make a few calls, but it looks like you could use sleep anyway.”
“So you’re not abandoning me and your first born right?”
Speaking with an added level of drama. She settled back to snuggle the baby, watching him leave with a grin.
“It’s raining frogs out there,” said a voice. It couldn’t be Roger. It was a female voice, not that of her husband.
“Um, you mean cats and dogs.” Though it was snowing, not rain.
“No, I mean actual frogs. I just thought you would want to know.”
All the snow they’d had, did something go wrong, Beverly thought. Did I die in childbirth?
“Is that your first?” the woman asked, a seemingly routine question immediately after announcing that frogs are dropping from the sky.
Maybe this woman had seen Magnolia too many times.
“Besides that, can I just ask, who are you and what are you doing in my room?”
“I came with the frogs and they are my friends. Don’t worry. We’re only here this one day. The scheduling does not let us come even every year, but every four instead.”
“Can I help you with something else then?” Beverly asked, patting the baby gently on the back.
“Every February 29 I come here, with my frog friends, to greet and congratulate new mothers and I even offer newborn cuddle duty.”
Holding her little Leap Year baby, Beverly could certainly see where this friend of the frogs was coming from on that one.
“You don’t recognize me, but I’ve lived with the frogs for a while now and I’m less myself than I once was.”
Beverly glanced from her babies face and with her beautiful brown eyes like her father, and then back up at the stranger in the doorway.
Those eyes, it suddenly hit her.
Then, from over the intercom came a voice all business like:
“I’m afraid we’re locking the hospital down. There’s no need for alarm, but if you look outside, you may have noticed that it has changed from snow to frogs out there. Not safe at this time for us to leave the
of this hospital. We’re calling in our janitorial maintenance team and they are all over it.”
At this, the stranger snapped to attention. “Oh no, my friends.”
Before Beverly could say a word, she was alone again with her child, but again she looked from her baby’s brown eyes to the eyes of that woman who was now off to join her frog friends on this Leap Year night, no longer staring back.
“Sorry I took so long,” Roger said. “Did you hear what’s going on out there?”
He walked to the window to briefly glance out at the scene on the other side of the glass before coming back to her side and gently lifting the baby from Beverly’s arms. “Take a break. You still haven’t gotten any sleep.”
Was he sure, Beverly wondered.
Again, Roger had walked back over to the window, little bundle asleep in his arms. “Wake up little girl,” her father said, slightly, ever so slightly nudging the infant.
“Look, little one,” he said. “All this for you. Frogs arriving to welcome you on this special day.”
Roger didn’t even sound overly concerned about what this Leap Year had brought.
Until… ”Wait, what’s that?”
“What?” Beverly asked, with a sharp intake of breath that hurt. “I don’t know if I can get out of this bed, but what is it?”
She tried to move off the bed, but for a moment she felt dizzy and nauseous.
“Easy,” Roger urged, letting her lean on him while he supported their baby in the crook of his other arm.
“So, what am I looking at?”
Across the parking lot, there could be seen a tiny figure, arms out stretched and twirling as more and more of them just kept coming down.
By March, the frogs had vanished, baby Britney was home with her parents, and all would remain frog free, all the rest of the days of the year, until maybe, when next a Leap Year rolls around, look out your window.
In and out, like a lamb, lion, frogs and their friend.
Twirling twirling. That little girl with the blue eyes and blonde hair, who loved holding newborns and rocking them to sleep while her friends kept on falling.