It had been a mistake. When she'd bought the frog planter for good luck, she hadn't noticed its lime-green disdain. Now each time she went out on the balcony it wink-smirked at her. The marigolds had the grace to blush, but the hibachi seemed unmoved.
She hated making mistakes—like the fracas at the pharmacy, the text to the President, the things she'd bought on eBay (though that yellow squash really did look like Krusty the Clown). Life would be so much better if she could erase them all from memory.
Early one evening she came home hungry from Stiltskins where she'd had a late lunch that would serve as dinner (a chef's salad--she counted her calories the way she counted her mistakes). When she stepped onto her balcony, she dropped into the deck chair and waited for the sunset—sunsets were never wrong. The rumbling of her stomach made it hard to concentrate, but, as she did each night, she listed out loud the mistakes she'd made since morning.
She had paused to catch her breath after Number Fourteen (Why hadn't she just been frank with her mother about those too-tight neon orange capris?), and she was about to take a run at Fifteen when she heard a phlegmy cough.
She looked down at the frog and was more than a little surprised when it belched a big one that made the marigolds shiver and twitch.
She was even more surprised when it spoke. I may be ceramic, it said, but that doesn't mean I want to listen to you whinge.
She dug her nails into the wood armrests. Who let the frog out of the fairy tale? Had someone at Stiltskins put special mushrooms in her chef's salad?
There's an eraser on the railing, the frog said. It's magic. Go ahead—wipe the whole damn slate clean.
Bug eyed, she stared at the eraser that had appeared out of nowhere. It was loot-bag sparkly and seemed to vibrate. Magic! She could take back words, rewind scenes. She lurched out of her chair.
She rubbed and rubbed, and bad memories began to disappear. She rubbed and rubbed until her head felt like a balloon, but she grabbed the railing to make sure she wouldn't float away. When she dropped the eraser on her foot and lost a baby toe, she picked up the eraser and continued rubbing. Nine toes were enough for anybody.
She had been at it for an hour when she suddenly realized there was no color or texture or scent to time, just white spaces where life had been, and she burst into tears. I get it now, she whispered to the frog in a blank panic. I get it. I am the errors of my ways. The frog just flicked out a tongue and chowed down on a ceramic fly. Erase the eraser, she said. Give me back my past. Give me a future. Please. She sank into her chair. Please, she said again as she fell into a deep sleep.
When she awoke, the eraser was gone, and so was the frog. In his place was a handsome pizza delivery guy with green eyes. In one hand he held a bouquet of marigolds and in the other a cardboard box with a pie with golden cheese and, make no mistake, the most beautifully ordinary mushrooms she had ever seen.
She smiled up at him and pulled out a slice. Long strands of creamy cheese bound them for a moment, and she suddenly realized how hungry she'd always been.