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Why Benjamin Curtis Stork Broke The Ribbit Glass
Fiction. Froggy fiction. Ferk. Very weird.
Benjamin Curtis Stork sent his last email for the day with Kind Regards, powered down his machine, exchanged weather based pleasantries with the almost literally hauntingly faceless account executive in the cubicle across from him, put his fourth and roughly seven-eights empty cup of Irish Breakfast tea in the dishwasher (having used a different mug and tea bag each time because there was something about the dark sour dregs of the last eighth of a cuppa that made Benjamin Stork want to vomit), he nodded cordially at Surya the janitor but did not, on this occasion, enquire about the status of the broken automatic door sensor that had been unable to automatically ‘sense’ any person for three weeks now—Surya had told B.C.S two days previous that a special part was being shipped in from France at great personal expense to the building owner—Benjamin entered the lift and expressionlessly looked at himself in the reflection of his reflection, waited for the usual bus beside people he did not in any way know but could recognise from a great distance simply by the way they were standing, rode it to the train station, looked at the news on his phone without truly reading or comprehending any of it, boarded his first train and stared hypnotically at the bright green signage for the Emergency Break, alighted and walked briskly to the platform of his second train and stood at the exact right place to get on the exact right carriage to get off right exactly in front of the stairs at his final destination, walked home uphill, ate last night’s dinner for his dinner, transformed into a massive frog, watched a rerun of Graham Norton on the tele, brushed his teeth albeit with some dexterity issues, and went to bed.
When he woke up he was a human again.
No one sitting in the meeting could pinpoint what specific reason it had been called for—it was put in everyone’s calendars as a vague update of the progress of the cross-departmental project that they were all working on. Addressing the lack of a clear, actionable purpose was item two on the agenda.
‘Well, definitely loop us all in when you send that through to Brenda, Tony, but it sounds like we’re in a good place.’
‘Yes, we are. We're in a good place.’
Benjamin Curtis Stork wrote ‘Tony to loop in ALL. Good place,’ on his company branded A5 spiral notebook with his company branded pen in a handwriting so neat it almost looked computerised. Later he would type these notes up in long form and email them to everyone who attended the meeting, plus the three who sent their apologies—two of these were just run-of-the-mill sick but the third, a senior product manager who called everyone under 30 ‘Buddy’, was presently sitting in an operating theatre right in the thick of a complex eye surgery, which had been the source of a number of jokes about ‘optimising corporate vision’ and ‘seeing the bigger picture’ that had been bandied about earlier to reduce some of the inevitable tension that came from being in the biggest of the three board rooms without any clear idea of whether the meeting was worth it until item two on the agenda. Benjamin Stork had not yet said any words out loud. It hadn’t really been worth the bigger meeting room, was the consensus.
‘When does Noah in Systems get back from leave?’ Brian asked.
‘Not sure,’ Tony answered.
Benjamin wrote ‘Noah (Systems) leave?’ and put two little asterisks beside it.
‘Any plans for the weekend, Katie?’
Benjamin Stork did not feel it prudent to jot down Katherine Finkelson’s intention to play tennis with her son, weather permitting, and thereafter make some cinnamon scrolls to take to a wine and cheese kind of thing with her netball team—but he did make a mental note of it so that he’d have something to talk about should he coincide with her next week around the proverbial ‘watercooler’, which is what the office called the cupboard with all the tea.
‘Oh, and Benjamin, you seem to have become a large frog,’ said Tony. ‘Can you hear us?’
‘Fine. Okay. Now that I’m thinking more about it, I think we may need to get these expenses approved by Rob before they get sent to Brenda.’
The note Benjamin made, which required some feats of patience and balance without an opposable thumb, was nothing more than a squiggle. He knew what it meant, though.
Benjamin’s afternoon biscuit was not easy to get out of the plastic wrapping. In the end, he pulverised it with his hands, ripped the packaging with his tiny frog teeth, and scooped up the fragments in concentrated bursts with his long, red tongue.
He became a man once more in the middle of turning his computer off and on again. It was having network issues that no one in the office could fully explain, though Benjamin wasn’t convinced the IT guys had even understood the problem when he ribbited it to them. Yanking out the cord seemed to fix it. Sometimes the kindest thing you can do for a computer is kill it, wait ten seconds, then bring it back to life.
Benjamin Curtis Stork was amphibious for about half of his weekend. He played a round of golf but not particularly well, especially when he became a frog on the back nine. He later met some of his mates for a beer but had to have his third schooner through a straw, and his buddies all laughed and bantered about the extreme and excessive and frankly pretty surreal wiles old B.C. Stork pulled out to avoid paying for his round.
Benjamin arrived at the office as a frog on Monday morning. The automatic door opened for him without issue, but Surya seemed quite horrified by the whole frog thing when Benjamin tried to tell him about it.
B.C.S. struggled to action many of his key deliverables, and was in fact not even able to compose his weekly to-do list. This was especially traumatising as the task of composing the to-do list was always Item 1 on the to-do list, and without the rush of ticking a box that he himself had drawn only moments before, Benjamin became a very distressed frog indeed.
His supervisor did a little laugh when Benjamin, dour, slimy, amphibious, gesturing webbedly at the nonsense squiggles on his company branded notepad, ribbited self-recriminations about his own inefficiency.
‘Benjamin, we all have days like this,’ the boss said, knowingly, as if she herself flipped back and forth between being a frog all the time, as if a slow Monday morning was a kind of wicked corporate indulgence that just went straight to the thighs. ‘Just do what you can and then see how you’re placed tomorrow.’
Benjamin spent most of the day doing inaccurate clicks on his computer, opening and closing tabs. There seemed to be no real consequences for this—for the business, for his supervisor, for Benjamin the frog.
He thought to himself, ‘‘Ribbit rib-ribbit ribbit?’ Which translated roughly to ‘Do any of my clicks really matter?’
When Benjamin hopped onto the train, a young lady stood as if to make way for him. B.C. Stork shook his bulbous green head and the woman sat, crossed her legs, and resumed scrolling on her phone.
Since Benjamin had left work as a neat urban professional, his tie was now pinching at his great green neck a little. He’d tried to loosen it, but fine motor skills were tricky. He didn’t want to make a big fuss by thrashing around so he just stood there, breathing quiet shallow painful breaths. No one looked at him anyway.
Every single human on the train, without exception, was looking at their phone.
The one and only frog on board the metro was looking at the Emergency Brake.
‘No, no, yes, you’re absolutely ribbit right Officer, Ma’am, I’m not saying that I didn’t pull it—of course to even suggest such a thing would be a most unsustainable lie, since I’m sure you have witnesses and security footage and the like and though momentarily a bit… wobbly, I’m really normally a very sensible young man. What I mean to say is that when I pulled it, I was in fact a frog at the time, if that makes sense. But anyway, the frog thing is secondary I guess to the truly weird thing, which was that I was just standing there struggling to breathe a little and then I became overwhelmed by this visceral kind of out of ribbit body spectator experience, like I’d zoomed out of myself, like I was totally disconnected from the physical universe and ribbit watching myself instead of ribbit being myself. Do you ever get that? And I was somewhere unreal and far away, as opposed to actually consciously walking over and flipping off the safety and yanking down the big green handle. Does that make ribbit? Again, once again, Officer, Ma’am, this is not to ribbit that I didn’t actually commit the act in question, I most certainly did.’
‘I did say frog, yes, you heard me ribbit. Ribbit. But don’t you ever get moments like that, Officer, Ma’am? What if I ribbit ran across the ribbit SCG in the middle of a test match? What if I ribbited bloody ribbit murder in the middle of a tense board meeting for no real ribbit reason at all? What would ribbit to me?’
‘Oh, my, that is a big fine.’
‘Ribbit ribbit ribbit ribbit?’
‘I said, is that one lump sum? Or can I pay it in instalments?’
Author’s note: Hi! I have a day off today and found this very weird old story in my Google Drive, and it just seemed relatable—not the frog thing, I was just very close to pulling the emergency brake on the train the other day. Just to see what would happen, you know? Not the best thing I’ve ever written but a bit of fun I guess, and I’m trying to get back into more regular posts one frog story at a time. Hope you’re well! Ribbit!