Celia’s Sulfur Spring
State: West Virginia
Date: August 23rd, 2012
On a quiet Sunday afternoon, Celia took a road trip to investigate her inheritance, a small property in West Virginia. After passing it three times, Celia pulled up to a grassy field. A mailbox read “20 Spruce Lane” and was the only confirming marker. With a glint of excitement in her eye, Celia stepped out of the car and set out exploring.
She made her way across the field and into the woods. She expected to eventually come to some sort of house, but instead she happened upon a sulfur spring. She knew it contained sulfur, because it smelled of rotten-eggs, and the shore was lined in yellow dust. The water looked warm, with steam rising off the surface. As Celia knelt down to touch it, she heard a man’s voice that sent a shiver down her spine.
“I’ve heard this water has magical powers that only humans can activate,” the voice said. Celia looked around, but saw no one. “At your feet,” the voice said again. Celia peered down, and saw a puffed up green toad.
“Hi,” she said.
“I know what your thinking, but I am not just a toad,” the toad said, “I am an architect, and if you dip me in the spring and give me a kiss, I will become a man and build you a house the likes of which have never been built before.” Celia thought on this a while, and then came to the conclusion that if the toad could talk, there was no telling what else he could do. So, she scooped the toad up, dipped him in the water, and gave him a kiss. Immediately the toad transformed into a man with green hair, and a wart beneath his left ear.
“Thank you,” he said, “I will build you a house right where you stand, and it will compliment the stream so well that one would think it had always been there. You and it will be one with nature.” For days, the architect chopped trees, and molded them into support beams. He created makeshift cement out of mud, and used it to line the walls. When he was done, Celia was astounded.
“It is more beautiful than I ever could have imagined,” she said, practically in tears.
“I am glad you like it,” said the architect, “With my promise fulfilled, I will head out tomorrow in search of future projects.” Celia was not eager to lose the architects company, but she didn’t want him to squander his talent. The next day when Celia heard a knock at her front door, she assumed it was the architect saying “goodbye.” Instead, a chipmunk greeted her.
“Hello,” it said in a squeaky voice, “I am not just a chipmunk, I am a baker, and if you dip me in the spring and give me a kiss, I will be your personal chef for a month.” This offer was too good for Celia to resist. She again performed the bathing ritual, and the chipmunk transformed into a man with brown, black, and white streaked hair. He immediately set about preparing a gourmet breakfast. Celia couldn’t believe her luck.
As the days went on, Celia became accustomed to being awoken by various talented animals. A bear became a twelve-fingered concert pianist, a stork gave stock tips, a deer was an herbalist, and the list goes on and on.
Celia felt blessed to have so many well-educated teachers in her life. Each new experience was a feast for the senses. So, when her best friend, Kim, stopped over for a visit, Celia was excited to have someone with whom to share her knowledge and good fortune.
Kim was not expecting to find Celia living in such a grand house with so many servants, and lightly broached the subject over an especially amazing dinner. Celia batted the question away at first, but after a few drinks she was feeling more honest, and she told Kim everything. All about the animals, and the magic water, and the kisses.
This was an awful mistake. When Celia fell asleep on the couch, Kim’s jealousy became apparent. She wandered outside, transformed as many animals as she could fit in her car, and drove off before dawn.
The next morning, Celia slept far later than usual. There was no animal at her door to wake her up, and when she called out for Kim she received no response. It was on that day, in a house built of magical talent, that Celia learned a valuable lesson the hard way: Don’t kiss and tell.
Check out more stories at http://www.ModernAmericanFolktales.com
By Alex Schattner
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