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Differences Between Us

Chapter Text

“What’s so special about this event?” Anne asked as she grabbed a large rolled up picnic blanket off Bessie’s shell. “I've seen fireflies here before. They’re pretty, but I don’t get why everyone is so excited.”

“This isn’t just watching some fireflies, Anne. This is the firefly migration,” Sprig explained. “It only happens once a year and it’s tradition to come out and see it.”

Anne followed the Plantar family up a rather large hill. The sun had just set, and it was difficult to make out the path beneath her feet. If it wasn't for the luminous mushrooms lighting her way, she probably would have tripped over a rock by now. 

“It’s a magnificent display,” Hop Pop said as he walked beside her. He had a picnic basket in one hand and Polly in the other. “Yer lucky it’s happenin’ before you leave the valley, Anne. You don’t wanna miss this.”

When they reached the top of the hill, Anne stared. All of Wartwood must have come out for the spectacle. Frogs sat together in family groups, each sitting on their own blankets, wrapped up in layers of clothing in order to keep warm. The scene reminded Anne of back home when she and her parents went to watch the fireworks on the Fourth of July.

Anne was surprised that there were so many frogs willing to come out so late. The past week the temperature had been lower than normal, and although it still felt warm and a little too humid for Anne, the frogs didn’t do well in the cold and they usually stayed home when the weather dropped this low. 

“Huh… Okay, this does seem pretty cool,” Anne admitted, her excitement growing. 

“Okay, let’s find a seat before it gets all filled up,” Hop Pop said as he lead them through the crowd.

They found a spot at the top of the hill and Anne helped Hop Pop spread out the picnic blanket on the grassy ground before sitting down herself. 

A wind blew through the valley and Anne took a moment to appreciate the cool feeling on her skin, knowing that this weather wouldn’t last for long, and would probably go back to sweltering heat by the end of the week.  

“It’s gettin’ chilly,” Hop Pop commented. “Sprig, where’d you put the extra blankets?”

“Uhh… I thought you were going to bring them.”

“What? I told you I was gettin’ the snacks! You were supposed to load the blankets on the back of Bessy.”

“Oops.” Sprig rubbed the back of his neck. “I guess they got left by the front door then?”

“Dangit, boy!” Hop Pop sighed. “Well, I guess we’re goin’ to be cold. We should probably leave early so we don’t get sick.”

“We don’t need to do that! We have Anne!” Sprig declared. 

Anne blinked, but before she could ask what Sprig was talking about, he jumped towards her, landing with an arm around her neck and his foot on her hip as he clung to her side. Sprig was light and she had grown used to him hopping onto her. So used it, in fact, that half the time she just picked him up out of convenience. 

“Wait for me! I call dibs!” Polly shouted as she jumped out of Hop Pop’s arms and directly into Anne’s lap. 

Holding Polly was also a common occurrence, but Anne was starting to sense that there was more to it this time. 

“Uhh, what’s going on here?” Anne asked. Thoroughly confused about why she had suddenly become the best seat in the house. 

Sprig settled on her leg and leaned against her. They were lucky they weren’t very heavy and that their cool skin was nice against the humid air, or she would’ve tossed them off by now. Okay, that wasn’t true… but she was starting to feel like a human bean bag chair, and she wasn't sure how she felt about that. 

“You’re warm, Anne!” Sprig explained. “You’re like a... A comfy fireplace without the fire. We don’t need the blankets if we have you.”

“So you’re using me like your own personal heater… nice.” The irritation in Anne’s voice barely covered her amusement. She had to at least pretend to give them a bit of a hard time. “I’m glad I could be of service. Are you two comfy? Can I get you anything?” she asked sarcastically.

“Actually, yeah.” Sprig grinned up at her, his eyes glinting playfully. “If you could be less bony that would be great.”

Why you little...

“I’ll show you bony,” Anne said with a growl. She wrapped her arm around Sprig, effectively trapping him, and removed his hat with her other hand. 

“Whoa! What the heck!” Sprig protested and tried to squirm away, but Anne’s grip was too tight. 

She took her knuckles and noogied him on his head- not too hard, because she had difficulty gauging her own strength around the frogs, and she didn’t want to hurt him.

“Annnneee!” Sprig whined as Polly laughed hysterically in her lap.

“Serves you right,” Anne said as she finally let Sprig go and he rubbed his head in annoyance, trying to smooth down his hair.

The townspeople had turned to look over at them to see what the ruckus was about. Some looked annoyed, some looked amused, but most just seemed unfazed by the weird Plantar family antics.

With a half-hearted huff, and a hint of a smile, Sprig shoved his hat back on his head.

“Alright kids, settle down,” Hop Pop said. “And don’t take all of Anne’s heat.”

“Thank you!” Anne exclaimed. “At least someone doesn’t treat me like furniture.”

“Save some warmth for yer dear, old Hop Pop.”


Hop Pop chuckled to himself as he sat down on the blanket on Anne’s other side. His cool shoulder was touching her own. 

Anne shook her head. “Fine,” She said at last, unable to hide her amusement any longer. “I guess I can’t let my favorite froggy family freeze.” She wrapped her arms around Hop Pop and Sprig’s shoulders as she hugged them a little tighter.

She felt them lean into her.

The luminescent mushrooms around them faded into darkness as a hush fell over the hill. 

The show was about to start. 

“Oh, look at that!” Sprig whispered from his place nestled into Anne’s side. She couldn’t see him, but she knew he was pointing up at the sky.

Anne looked upwards to see one firefly blinking against the starry night. Then another one rose up to follow it. Then three more, then seven more… in an instant the sky was filled with twinkling lights.

Anne stared, open-mouthed at the sight. The stars and lights swirled together, floating above her, in front of her, all around her in the inky blackness. She was floating in space, far, far from home, with nothing but emptiness and stars surrounding her. Her only comfort was the weight on her lap, and the familiar feeling of cool skin against her arms as she clung to her new family. Feeling that if she let go, even for an instant, she would be lost in the abyss of space. 

Anne held her family tighter.

Chapter Text

Anne had reread the preteen magazine for the 55th time. She knew every article by heart, but still she couldn’t help but revisit it. The afternoon sun streamed in through the window as Anne sat on the Planter’s couch; beside her, Sprig sat practicing his violin. 

It wasn't her home back in her world, but it was still home. It was familiar, comfortable, and filled with people she cared about. Sitting in the quiet living room with a little piece of her world in her lap, Anne felt the seamless merging of two worlds. She could lose herself in reading about what good looking celebrity was endorsing which make-up products, and at the same time, reach into Sprig’s snack bowl of caramelized cricket legs and pop one into her mouth.

It was both foreign and familiar, and somehow, it just kind of worked.

Anne was surprised to feel soft, clammy hands grab her own hand, which was in mid-reach for the snack bowl.

She had long since gotten used to the feel of frog skin. Where at first it had felt off-putting, slimy, and too smooth against her own skin, now it was just Sprig. It probably helped that Sprig was physically affectionate with family and friends. Even the first week they met, Sprig had no hesitation about climbing up on her shoulders and settling there as if it was the most natural thing in the world. That had gotten her used to being around frogs pretty quickly. 

Now, Sprig had grabbed her hand and pulled it close to his face in careful examination.

“Hey!” Anne complained, mostly because he was preventing her from reaching the snacks.

She looked over to see him staring in awe at her hand. Anne raised an eyebrow at him. Yes, their hands were very different. She had five fingers where he only had four, she had human skin with hard calluses from practicing tennis and he had soft, fragile skin that was always cool to the touch. Still, this was nothing new for both of them. They had been living together long enough that these differences were starting to feel ordinary. 

“Sprig, what are you-”

“Your claws changed color.”

Anne stared at him. “My what?”

“Your claws! They’re now purple! What does that mean? Are you okay? Are you sick?” he asked, staring up at her with wide, worried eyes. 

Anne looked down at her bright purple nails. She had been overjoyed when she first discovered a few bottles of nail polish in the bottom of her backpack during her first week in Amphibia. Last night, Anne had decided to paint her nails just for fun. She knew with all the work she did around the farm, the nail polish wouldn’t last long, but she was feeling homesick and needed to do something normal.

“No, I’m fine.” Anne pulled her hand away, but then splayed out her fingers so Sprig could see her handywork. “I just painted them.”

“Why would you paint your claws?”

“Would you stop calling them claws? You make me sound like a monster,” Anne snapped. “They’re my nails! 

“Sorry. So… why would you paint your nails?”

“Mostly because I like the way it looks and it’s fun.”

Sprig was silent for a moment before he looked up at her with a hopeful look that should come with a warning label. 

“Will you paint mine?” he asked.

“You don’t have any nails.” 

“I know, but it looks cool!”

Anne frowned thoughtfully. “I’m not sure it will work on you. There needs to be a hard surface for the paint to dry on.” 

Sprig’s hopeful gaze fell. “Oh...”

Anne scowled at Sprigs crestfallen look. That really wasn't fair. He didn’t even know what a puppy was, but he had mastered the kicked puppy look effortlessly. 

She sighed. “Fine, hold on. I have an idea.” 

A half an hour and use of Hop Pop’s woodworking kit later, Anne had managed to file down some wood pieces to resemble fingernails. Using some of Hop Pop’s glue, she attached the wood pieces to the end of Sprig’s fingers. At first, she wasn’t sure if the glue was safe for his skin, but then she remembered Hop Pop had been covered with the glue once and he had been fine.

“What color do you want?” Anne only had four options, and she smiled a little when he picked the purple one; the same color she had on her nails. Even though giving a frog fake nails was one of the weirdest things she had done in her time in this world, and she had done a lot of weird things since coming here, she had to admit that the purple went well with his skin tone. 

Anne opened the bottle of nail polish and started painting the first nail. 

Almost immediately, Sprig began to cough and leaned away. Anne was sure he would have plugged his nose if he had one. 

“It smells like poison,” Sprig said in a surprisingly cheerful voice as his eyes watered. 

“Well, I wouldn't recommend drinking it,” Anne said as she continued to paint. “But the smell will go away after it dries.” Anne hesitated, pausing in her next stroke. “Wait... is this safe for you? Didn’t you say once that frogs absorb stuff through their skin? These chemicals might hurt you.”

Sprig shrugged. “Dunno. But we’ve done super dangerous stuff before, so what’s the difference?”

“Good point,” Anne conceded as she continued to paint. “Just don’t touch the paint until it dries, and you’ll probably be fine.” 

The front door opened and almost instantly Hop Pop and Polly started gagging on the fumes. 

“What in Frog’s name?” Hop Pop gasped. “What is that smell?”

“Look, Hop Pop! Anne is giving me poisonous purple claws!” Sprig held out his half-finished nails for his grandfather to see. 

Anne shot Sprig a glare.

“Uhh, I mean nails!”

“Poisonous claws! Cool! I want some!” Polly insisted, jumping out of Hop Pops arms and onto the floor next to Anne and Sprig.

She looked over at the color options. “Do you have black?”

“Nope, but I have red.”

“Like the blood of my enemies! Perfect!”

Hop Pop eyed the nail polish wearily but didn’t look overly concerned. Anne figured he was long since used to her human stuff and he had given up trying to understand it. 

“Fine, but those come off by tomorrow, Sprig. There is no way you can work in the field with those on your fingers. And Anne, try not to poison anyone.”

“Uh huh, sure,” Anne said distractedly. “Spig, quit moving around so much!”

“Sprig! Let Anne do her thing so I can go next!”

“You don’t even have any fingers!” Sprig shot back. 


Anne shook her head in amusement. 

Yep, a merging of two worlds. It just kind of worked. 

Chapter Text

“This isn’t as good as suspicious island,” Sprig commented. He was sitting on the couch, leaning against Anne’s side so he could see the tiny phone screen resting on the table. “But I do like the part when she says yes to the dress.”

“Ugh,” Polly groaned from her place on Anne’s other side. “Can we pleeaase watch something else now? I only like it when they start fighting, but even that doesn’t have any weapons or blood!”

“Fine, fine, we can watch something else,” Anne said as she reached over and stopped the next episode from playing. “You guys want to watch one of my movies?”

The front door opened, but the three kids were too immersed in Anne’s phone to look up as Hop Pop entered the room. 

“Oh good, Sprig, you’re here,” Hop Pop said as he closed the door. “I’ve been meanin’ to talk with yew.”

Sprig looked up curiously when instead of speaking, Hop Pop went into the other room, grabbed a chair, and brought it out to sit down on the other side of the living room table. 

“What’s going on Hop Pop? Did I forget to lock Bessie’s gate again?”

“No, nothin’ like that.” Hop Pop cleared his throat. “I just wanted to have a chat with you.” 

Anne looked on with renewed interest. It wasn’t often that Hop Pop’s stern lecturing voice was focused on someone other than her for a change. She spared a glance at Polly who looked just as confused as she was. 

“You see Sprig,” Hop Pop began, “Yer gettin’ older and yer going to start noticin’ your body going through certain changes.”

“Uh…” Sprig looked around uncertainty. “What is happening right now?”

“These changes are completely natural for a young frog,” Hop Pop continued. “You’ll legs will get longer, yer voice will get deeper and you’ll notice yourself molting more… a lot more.”

Sprig groaned; a blush beginning to creep up his cheeks. “Hop Pop, do we have to talk about this right now?”

“This… is… amazing.” Anne was grinning widely. She rarely got to see Sprig embarrassed unless it had to do with his feelings for Ivy. 

“Yeah, bro,” Polly snickered. “This is important information. Go on, Hop Pop.”

“Well, those are just the beginnin’ of the changes you’ll experience. You’ll notice yer emotions gettin’ all out of whack and you’ll get angry or sad over the tiniest things. You’ll have emotional outbursts out of nowhere! Not to mention, you’ll start thinkin’ nonstop about a special frog in you life. You’ll want to be around them all the time, holding their hand, kissing them-.” 

“Like Ivy,” Anne said in a sing song voice as she leaned against Sprig, clutching her hands together under her chin and fluttering her eyelashes. 

“Cut it out, Anne!” Sprig said as he attempted to swat her away. His face growing redder by the second. “Hop Pop, why are you just talking to me about this stuff?” Sprig asked as he tugged his hat down to hide his embarrassment. “Polly is going through a lot of changes too.”

“And I can’t wait to get my legs!” Polly announced. “I will be unstoppable!”

“Polly is still a baby, Sprig. It’s good she’s hearin’ this early, but right now it’s important for yew to know what changes are goin’ to start happenin’ in yer future.”

“Well, what about Anne?” Sprig asked desperately. “She’s older than me! She should get this talk too!”

“Aaand, I’m going to stop you right there,” Anne said. “I already had ‘the talk’ with my mom and I already know about the birds and the bees. I don’t need to go through that again from someone that doesn’t even know anything about my species.”

“The birds and the bees?” Hop Pop asked. “Anne, we’re talking about puberty, growing up, and courtship. Why in Amphibia are yew bringin’ other animals into this?”

“No, see it’s an expression. They call it the birds and the bees in my world because... because… huh, why do they call it that?”

“Okay, that’s enough puberty talk,” Polly interrupted. “It was funny at first, but I really don't want to hear about courtship stuff. I would rather hear about what it was it like when Anne got her legs. I can’t imagine someone as big as you being small like me.” 

Anne blinked down at the little polliwog. “What? No, you guys don’t get it. Humans are born with their legs.”

“Wait? Really?” Sprig said at the same time Polly said, “That’s not fair!”

“Yep, no weird growing limbs or losing tails for us.”

“I knew it! You’ve always been that big, haven’t you?” Polly said with a pout. 

Anne shook her head. “Of course not. I was a baby like you once.” 

Polly looked up with renewed interest.

“Let’s see…” Anne picked up her phone began scrolling. “I think I have a picture of myself as a baby. I had to do a school project about my family and I saved some of the photos.” Anne bit her lip in concentration as she searched through her phone. “Here it is! This is a picture of my grandma holding me when I was a baby.”

Anne held out her phone for the frogs to see the image. 

“Whoa,” Sprig said as he leaned closer. “You looked so weird and squishy!”

Anne shot him an annoyed look. 

“Cute and weird!” he amended quickly. “You looked very cute!”

“Wow, you were almost as small as me and you grew so big!” Polly said in awe. 

“And yew weren’t foolin’ about the limbs,” Hop Pop said. “That must have made things easier for yew and yer family.”

“Yeah, having arms and legs must have made it much easier to get out of your egg,” Polly agreed. 

“Actually, I didn’t hatch out of an egg.”

The Plantars blinked up at her in confusion.

“Wait, seriously?” Anne asked. “You guys don’t know anything about how mammals have babies?”

Sprig shrugged. “Not really. Most mammals are predators, so we don’t get too close.”

“I know a bit from readin’, but it could be different in yer world, Anne,” Hop Pop said.

“Well, uhh…” Anne began, unsure of what to say, or if she even wanted to talk about this. “Humans grow in their mom’s stomach for nine months,” she explained. “Then they are born… with all their limbs.”

Polly and Sprig looked horrified. “In their stomachs?” Sprig asked. “How? Why?”

Anne shrugged uncomfortably. “That’s just how it is.”

“So there is no egg?” Polly asked. “At all?”

Anne started to fidget. “Well, there technically is an egg, but that’s… a little more complicated.”

“Wait, do you come from an egg or not? I’m so confused!” Polly demanded. “And how do they even get the baby out of the stomach?!”

“You know what,” Anne said, her voice suddenly cheery. “Let’s just go back to embarrassing Spig. That was fun.”

“Wow Anne,” Sprig commented with a grin. “I didn't know you could turn so red.”

“Embarrassing Sprig is fun,” Polly agreed. “But now I just want to know more about humans and their weird biology.”

“Oh yeah, what’s puberty like for you Anne?” Sprig asked. “I bet it’s really different from frogs.”

“Or it might be more similar than you think,” Hop Pop interjected. “Anne, if you talk about your experiences with puberty, then it might help Sprig out.”

“Umm, okay, no.” Anne said flatly. “No way I’m talking about that with you guys.”

“Why not?” Sprig asked. “We talked about frog puberty with you.”

“Yeah, but… that was… that was different.”

Sprig cocked his head to the side. “How?”

“It just was, okay!” Anne shot back. “You guys wouldn’t get it!”

“Maybe we would get it if you told us more about it,” Polly prompted. 

“Why would I do that?” Anne snapped. “It’s not any of your business anyway! Just know that human puberty is the worst, okay? Especially for girls!”

“Especially for girls?” Polly asked. “What does that mean?”

“I-It’s just is!” Anne’s face was burning.

Polly scoffed. “It can’t be that bad. It’s not like you have to grow any limbs.”

Anne stood up from the couch. Her thoughts racing as her heart thudded in her chest. “What do you know?” Anne demanded, her voice going up an octave. “You don’t even know what I’m going through. Human puberty is painful and messy and… and it’s not like I can talk to anyone here about it because no one would understand!”

Before anyone could speak, Anne ran out of the house, slamming the door behind her.

“Uhh… what just happened?” Polly asked. 

“Remember when I mentioned that puberty causes emotional outbursts… well, that was one of them.” Hop Pop sighed. “I should go after her and make sure the girl is okay.”

Before Hop Pop could stand up, Sprig was already opening the front door. “It’s okay Hop Pop, I’ll go talk to her. She’s my best friend after all.”

It didn’t take long for Sprig to find Anne. The ground was moist, and there was no one in town that left footprints as big as hers. He found Anne sitting by a pond only a few minutes down the road from home. 

“Hey,” Sprig greeted as he sat on the mossy ground next to her. 

“Hey,” she greeted without looking at him. She tossed a rock into the pond.

“I’m sorry about what happened. We shouldn’t have pushed you.”

Anne shook her head, but still didn’t look at him. “No, I’m the one that should be sorry. I thought it was funny that you were so uncomfortable talking about puberty stuff, but then I couldn’t take the heat when it was turned back on me. I shouldn’t have teased you… or ran out like that.”

“Anne,” Sprig said slowly. He wasn’t sure what to say, but whatever he said next he wanted it to come out right. “I know we’re really different and I don’t know what you’re going through... or why it would be painful for you and make you so upset.” Worriedly he tried to search her face to make sure she was okay, but she still wouldn’t look at him. He wanted to ask her if she was okay or if she was in pain now, but he held back. “And honestly, I don’t know much about this puberty stuff for myself. It’s all just kind of...”

“Embarrassing? Dumb?”

Sprig chuckled. “Yeah. I wish we didn’t have to grow up and everything could stay the same.”

Anne hummed in agreement. 

“But umm, Anne,” Sprig said, and there must have been something in his voice, because Anne finally turned to look at him. “Even though I’m not good at this stuff, Hop Pop is. He can be a little embarrassing, and I know you probably don’t want to talk about it, but he’s really understanding about… about that kind of stuff. So, if you need to... if you don’t want to talk to me…” Sprig trailed off awkwardly.

Anne gave him a small smile. “Thanks Sprig. I don’t know if I will, but I’ll think about it.”

It had been three days since the awkward conversation with the Plantars. Anne hadn't planned on bring up the topic ever again, but with Sprig’s assurance that Hop Pop was understanding about this kind of thing, and with her internal clock working against her, Anne was starting to run out of options. 

Anne knocked on the open study door. “Hop Pop, can I ask you something?”

Hop Pop lowered the book he was reading and beckoned her to come in. “Sure, Anne. What is it?”

Anne bit her lip. She could hear her heart pounding in her ears, and a feeling of dread sat heavily on her chest, making it difficult to breathe. “If I… If I give you a list of stuff to get from the store, could you get it for me without asking why?”

Hop Pop rolled his eyes. “For the last time Anne, I’m not gettin’ the fruit marketed as organic. That’s just a scam! It’s all organic! It was all grown in the same town for Frog’s sake!” 

Anne felt heat rise to her face and she suddenly felt like a total idiot. This was a stupid plan. Why did she think this was going to work? “Oh, umm… yeah… totally. Never mind then.”

Hop Pop gave her a skeptical look.

“Hold up there, Kiddo. What’s this about?”

Anne shrugged; her body half turned away to leave. 

“Let me see that list of yours, alright?” he asked gently.

Anne shook her head. “You know what? Never mind, it’s just dumb stuff anyway.”

“Anne, let me see the list,” he requested firmly.

Hesitantly, Anne handed him the piece of paper. Once he put on his reading glasses, his eyes quickly scanned the list. It wasn’t anything too fancy, just extra padding for medical bandages and extra tissues- All the stuff that Anne had found in the Plantar household and used without their knowledge. 

“I-It’s just some stuff that… that girls from my world need.” Anne rubbed her arm self-consciously. “But I can't really tell you why.”

Hop Pop glanced at Anne’s face and then back at the list. He folded it up and placed the list in his pocket. 


“Okay?” Anne parroted back in confusion. 

“I’m headin’ to the store tomorrow. This stuff should be easy enough to get.”

“Really?” Anne felt the feeling of dread weighing on her chest ease up just a little bit. “You’re not going to ask why I need that stuff? I know the farm doesn’t make a lot of money-”

“Anne.” Hop Pop held up his hand to stop her. “Believe it or not, I was a teenager once, and I do remember how easily I got embarrassed and how difficult it was to talk about things, especially to adults. I’m guessing this has something to do with the puberty conversation we had the other day?”

Anne felt her eyes drop to the ground.

“Every teenager feels like they’re a freak living in another world where no one gets them,” Hop Pop said. “In yer case, you’re actually from another world, so I’m sure it’s even harder for yew”

It was strange, but the more Hop Pop spoke, the more the tight feeling of dread began to unravel, and Anne finally felt like she could breathe properly again.


“If yew want to talk about it, I'm here to listen, but if yew just wanna hand me a list, that’s okay too.” Hop Pop patted her arm comfortingly. “Don’t yew know by now that yer old Hop Pop’s got your back?”

Tears sprang to her eyes and Anne bent down to wrap her arms tightly around him. 

Anne took a shaky breath. “Thanks, Hop Pop. I don’t know what I would do without you.”

Hop Pop rubbed her back soothingly. “Anne, yer not alone here. We might not always understand but we are here for yew, okay?”

Anne nodded into his shoulder. “Okay.”

Chapter Text

“I think we’re stuck,” Anne said as she stared up at the quickly dimming sky. 

To be fair, she and Sprig shouldn’t have been wandering around in the forest so late, but in their defense, they found a cool cave to explore, and if they went home too early, Hop Pop might remember that it was their night to do the dishes. 

Since they had been exploring a cave, they hadn’t realized the sun was going down until they decided to head back home.

“Don’t worry, Anne. It’s not that high,” Sprig assured her. He was also staring upwards as he examined the muddy wall of the giant pit. A giant pit that they had both fallen into on the way home. Since it had been dark, neither of them had seen it until it was too late. Sprig had been on Anne’s shoulders, so all it took was for Anne to make one wrong step and they both found themselves falling into the bottom of a muddy pit.

The pit was about the size of Anne’s closet back home and twice as tall as Anne herself. Sprig theorized that some giant animal must have dug the pit. Anne was just happy that said animal was no longer here. 

The sun had set not too long ago, but there was still a faint halo of light over the horizon, which allowed Anne to make out the features on Sprig’s face. 

Anne touched the slippery mud wall. There was no way she could climb that. She would just slide right down. 

“The ledge isn’t too far away. I think we can hope out!” Sprig said cheerfully.

Before Anne could say anything, Sprig made a giant leap straight up and out of the pit. 

“It’s not too high,” Sprig said and he peered over the ledge at her. “You can probably-” He paused. “Oh, wait a second…”

“Yeah! I can’t just hop out like you!” Anne shouted up at him. “My legs don’t work that way and the pit is too deep!”

Sprig looked sheepishly down at her. “Yeah, it’s weird, your legs are longer than mine but not as springy. What do we do now?”

“Try and find something that can get me out of here, like a big stick or a long vine!” Anne instructed.

“Right! Okay!” Sprig said with a decisive nod. “I’ll be right back! Don’t-”

“Sprig, if you say don’t go anywhere, I swear you’re going to regret it.”

Sprig chuckled. “Right, right, sorry. I’ll be right back.”

Anne heard rustling in the bushes above her and knew Sprig had hopped away. She could hear him moving around in the underbrush. Anne sat on the muddy ground and waited.

Minutes passed by, and Anne became alarmingly aware that she couldn’t hear Sprig moving around through the plant life above her. Fear clenched her chest as she thought about all the creatures that roamed around the forest at night. The town was, for the most part, relatively safe because of all the lights and frogs around. Most creatures didn’t venture too close, but out here in the forest… 

Anne got to her feet. “Sprig? Sprig! Are you there?”

What was she going to do? It’s not like she could protect him while she was stuck down in a hole. 


“Here! I’m here!”

Anne sighed in relief at the familiar voice. She could barely make out Sprig’s face peering over the side of the hole. When had it gotten so dark?

Sprig jumped into the hole, landing directly in front of her.

“Are you okay? What’s wrong?” he asked.

Anne’s mouth went dry. “I just… You were taking a while.” Now she just sounded dumb

“Sorry about that. I couldn’t find anything to help get you out.”

“I’m not surprised,” Anne said. “It’s getting really dark. It’s hard to see anything at all.”

“Actually, frogs have really good nighttime vision, but even I was having trouble seeing. It wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t cloudy tonight.” Anne couldn’t see his expression, but he sounded worried. “What do we do now?” he asked. 

Anne bit her lip. She didn’t like the idea of sending Sprig out into the forest alone again, but it was probably safer for him to make the half-hour trip back into town so that he could get help instead of both of them waiting in the pit all night for some creature to find them.

Anne bent down and placed her hand on Sprig’s shoulder; even though she could only make out his outline in the dark. “You’ll have to go for help. Get Hop Pop. He can bring some rope and get me out of here.”

“Leave you here?” Sprig asked uncertainly. “I don't know, Anne. You’ll be alone here in the dark. Maybe we should-”

“I’m not waiting until morning,” Anne interrupted, already knowing what he was going to suggest. “The less time we stay out here the safer we’ll be, besides...”

Anne pulled out her phone. The glow from the home screen burned her eyes and with a few quick swipes she turned on the flashlight app.”

Sprig gasped and took a step back, but his expression was one of surprise, not fear. 

“Whoa, you didn’t tell me you had a tiny sun in your phone!” he exclaimed. 

Anne rolled her eyes and kept the light down to keep it from blinding them.

“It’s not a sun, it’s just a flashlight.”

“Right of course… A flash... Light. Not a magical sun at all.” He sounded like he didn’t quite believe her.

“I’ll be fine here while I wait for you. We’re a half hour from home so it should only take you about an hour to get there and back, right? I’ll be fine for that long. It’s not like I’m scared of the dark, and it can’t be worse than the first nights when I came here and had to sleep in a cave.”

“I guess…  I just don’t feel good about leaving you here by yourself.”

“I’ll be fine,” Anne insisted. “I’m not happy about being stuck down here either, but what else can we do?”

“I guess, it’s just…” Sprig hesitated. “I’m actually not sure if I can find the way back.”

Anne froze. “What do you mean?”

“I can usually see pretty well in the dark, but I’m not really familiar with this area. I’m not sure if I can find the path we took back home,” Sprig explained. “Usually I would use the stars to guide me, but it’s too cloudy tonight.”

“So you don’t know the way back home?” 

“I’m not sure. I was looking for a glowing mushroom to help me see better, but I couldn’t find any. If I had one I would probably be able to find the right path.”

This was bad. It would be dangerous for Sprig to wander around the forest without knowing where he was going. 

Anne looked down at her phone and groaned. 

She really didn’t have any other option, did she?

“Okay Sprig…” Anne said slowly. “I’m going to trust you with this.” She held out her phone. “But I need you to promise you will take good care of it. This phone is my life, okay?”

From the light from her phone, she could see Sprig’s bewildered expression.

“You… want me to take your phone?”

“It’s our only option. You have to use the light from my phone to find the way back home.”

“But Anne,” Sprig said. “It’s your phone .”

The way he said it sounded as if she was giving him a vital part of her body, like her arm or leg. And in a way, she was giving him the most important piece of herself; her connection to her world.

“I know, but you might not make it back to Wartwood without some sort of light. I know you’ll take care of it for me.”

“But… you’ll be left by yourself in the dark.”

Anne tried to suppress the rush of panic that flooded her chest. 

“Then you’ll just have to hurry back as fast as you can. I’ll be fine. I can handle spending some time in this stupid hole.”

Anne held out her phone and she felt Sprig’s finger’s close around it. When he lifted it out of her hand, Anne suddenly felt empty.

Sprig fumbled awkwardly with the phone as he held it away from his body both in reverence and uncertainty; like it was a precious jewel and a snake that might bite him.

“I don’t know about this…” 

“Just hurry back, okay?” Anne didn’t like this option either, but getting help was the safest choice, even if she had to sit alone in the dark for a while. 

Sprig nodded. “I’ll be as fast as I can. Don’t worry, Anne. We’ll get you out of this.”

Sprig hopped up and out of the pit and Anne heard him land on the ground above her. As soon as he left the hole, she was plunged into darkness. 

Anne blinked, but she couldn’t even see her hand in front of her face or the mud wall beside her. The only source of light came from the faint glow from the sky between the trees, but because of the clouds, the normal glow from the moon and stars were dimmed.

She heard Sprig hopping through the forest, the sound of his feet on the leaves getting farther and farther away.

Anne sat down on the muddy ground and folded her legs beneath her. There was nothing she could do now but wait. It would be at least an hour before she heard from Sprig again and she had nothing to do, not even her phone to play with to pass the time.

Anne rested her back against the muddy wall of the pit. If she closed her eyes, her surroundings didn’t change. All she could see was darkness.

Even though it was getting late, sleeping wasn’t an option. Who knew what type of predators were roaming the forest at night; not to mention the bugs that might be in the pit with her.

Anne felt something tickle her arm and she frantically rubbed away the sensation. She really hoped the crawling sensation on her skin was all in her mind. 

Why did the dark always make her fears seem more real?

Her thoughts turned back to Sprig. She really hoped he was okay. Although she was pretty sure Sprig would be safer making the half an hour trip back to town instead of spending all night with her trapped in a hole, Anne knew it was risky for him to be traveling through the forest at night. Especially since he had her phone, and the light could attract all sorts of unwanted attention.

Anne’s heart dropped in her stomach at the thought.

What if her phone was the reason that some predator started targeting Sprig? He had been uneasy about going back on his own. Why hadn’t Anne listened to him? Yes, he had been more worried about Anne than himself, but Anne had still insisted that he went along with her plan.

What if he got hurt, or even killed, because of her?

Anne shook her head and took a few steadying breaths. 

No, no, Sprig is going to be okay, Anne told herself. 

He was fast and resourceful. It was just because it was dark that her mind was starting to lead her down the worst possible scenario. 

Think about it realistically, Anne, she told herself. S prig will get home, tell Hop Pop what happened, and then Hop Pop, Polly and Sprig will find some rope and come rescue me. Hop Pop will probably want to lecture us both, but he will wait until I’m safe… Anne couldn’t help but smile at that. Then, I’ll get an earful. 

Anne actually felt a bit better thinking about how her frog family would come rescue her. After all, they’ve been in worse situations. 

Everything will be fine.

Sprig will be fine. 

A flash of metal against the red sky.

Sprig’s frightened eyes close as he flinches away- bracing for impact from the silver sword.

Anne doesn’t even think, she just moves. Her sword clashes against another, just in time.

The next thing she knows, she’s staring down the one person she never wanted to fight. 

Anne shivers, even in the humid air. She really, really tries not to think about that night, but sometimes the images flash through her mind, unbidden. If she had been any slower Sprig would be... 


If Anne had never come to this world in the first place, Sprig would have never been in danger.

She usually tried to steer her thoughts away from Sasha and that night, but without her phone or her loveable frog family around, it was difficult to distract herself. 

What if… what if she never got home?

Now she was left in the darkness with her thoughts. It was as if someone loosened a faucet she usually kept sealed tight. 

What would her parents do without her? What would they think happened to her? Are there police looking for her right now or was she assumed dead? 

All her thoughts, all her worries, they all started pouring out and she couldn’t stop them.

Did people think she, Sasha, and Marcy ran away, or did they think something bad happened to all three of them?

As the minutes ticked by, a feeling of hopelessness starts to grow in her chest. It’s always been there, an inevitability she just never wanted to acknowledge. She had been lying to herself. Hadn't she always known deep down that she would never get home? 

As the night wore on, Anne curled up on her side, desperately trying to block out as many thoughts as she could. But the more she tried not to think, the more insistent they became.

Anne wasn't sure how much time had passed, but she knew it had to be at least two hours, maybe even more.

Sprig should have been here by now. 

He would never leave her down in this hole, so something horrible must have happened to him, and it was all Anne’s fault. 

Anne was the one that insisted they go out exploring even though it was late. She insisted Sprig go back for help. She never meant for any of this to happen, but she never did, did she? 

Anne stood up to the tax collectors, which only put a target on Hop Pop’s back. She accepted Sasha’s invitation for a party, only to find out it was a trap. Sure, Anne had saved the people of Wartwood a few times, but how many of those times were her own fault to begin with? If it wasn’t for her, Wartwood would have never been in danger in the first place.

She wasn’t meant to be in this world; she just made everything worse. She had made a mistake in stealing the music box, and now the whole town was suffering because of it. The truth was, the town would be better off without her. 

She felt a sob rise up in her throat as her shoulders began to shake. It was all too much.

Anne was going to be stuck down here in this pit forever, and the worst part was, she deserved it.

Sprig felt terrible. It had taken longer than it should have to find enough rope to get Anne out, and then there were complications with the rescue party. To make matters worse, Sprig had gotten lost trying to find the way back to the pit he and Anne had fallen into. It had been two hours since he left Anne, when it should have taken him half that time. 

Was Anne still okay? Did some other predator find her before he could?

Finally, with the help from the sun in Anne’s phone, Sprig began to recognize the path he was on. He was close to where he had left Anne.

“This way!” Sprig shouted. “Anne’s over here!”

He couldn’t help but rush ahead. He had to make sure Anne was okay.

“Anne, Anne, Anne!” He didn’t even hesitate as he leaped into the pit.

He panicked when he didn’t see her at first. Frantically, he cast the light around the darkened pit until he saw something curled up in the corner. 

“Anne!” he shouted as he rushed to her side. “Anne, are you okay?”


Something was wrong. Her voice was raspy, and her movements were slow as she uncurled herself and sat up to look at him.

From the light in the phone, he caught a glimpse of Anne’s face, and his heart stuttered in his chest.

Anne’s eyes were red and puffy, and he swore he saw tear stains on her cheeks before she quickly wiped at her eyes.

“You’re okay?” she asked in a mixture of disbelief and relief. 

“I’m so sorry I took so long!” Sprig apologized. “I got lost and-”

Suddenly, Anne leaned forward and wrapped her long arms around him, squeezing him maybe a little too tight in a warm, Anne-hug.

He did his best to hug her back, but with the way he was squished in her iron grip, the best he could do was pat her shaking arm. 


“Sorry,” Anne said in embarrassment as she pulled away. She turned away so he couldn’t examine her face in the low light. “I thought something happened to you.”

There was something unnerving about the fact that Anne had been crying, and not just because Sprig hated seeing his family cry. He had seen Anne cry from happiness multiple times, but he had only seen Anne actually break down into tears two or three times. Usually, something had to be really bad to make Anne cry like that. 

Even more worrisome was the fact that Anne hadn’t asked for her phone back yet.

“Don’t worry, the rescue party is almost here,” Sprig assured her. “You’ll be home soon.”

Anne flinched at the mention of home, and Sprig felt like he had said something wrong. 

“Are you okay?” He knew she wasn’t, but he had to ask. 

At first she didn't speak. 

He tried again. “Anne, what's wrong?”

“Sprig… if I ask you something, will you promise to be completely honest with me?” She sat back on her legs, her eyes cast down to the muddy ground. 

“Sure, Anne,” Sprig agreed, trying to ignore the feeling of dread in his chest. 

“Remember, this isn’t your opinion. I want the truth,” she reminded him. “This is really important.”

Sprig nodded. 

“Do you think… do you think Wartwood would have been better off if I never showed up?” she asked in a small voice.

Sprig blinked. The answer rising up quickly in his throat before he squashed it down. He wanted to shout no, of course not, because Sprig couldn’t imagine a Wartwood that never met Anne. But that wasn’t the question she asked was it?

“Think about it, Sprig. If it wasn’t for me, you guys wouldn’t have fought back against the tax collectors. Hop Pop wouldn’t have been seen as a revolutionary, and you guys wouldn’t have been stupid enough to accept an invitation to the toad’s party. And don’t try and tell me that those things would have happened without me, but because we both know that's not true.” 

There was a moment of silence where Sprig tried to figure out where this was coming from. Why was Anne suddenly blaming herself, and if she always felt this way, why hadn't she said anything until now?

“You’re right,” Sprig admitted carefully. “Things in Wartwood have changed because of you. We are in more danger with the toads, and yeah, that probably wouldn’t have happened without you.”

The defeated expression on Anne’s face made him rush out his next sentence.

“But that doesn't mean things haven’t changed for the better too!” Sprig insisted. ”The town has never been brave enough to stand up to the toads before we met you. Sure, that means we’re in more danger, but it’s worth it to stand up for ourselves. Anne, you’ve brought this town closer together in three months than we’ve ever been before. We never had anyone to fight for us, or made us realize we could fight for ourselves. We never realized how strong we can be together.”

Anne stared at him, stunned. “Really?” 

“Of course! Everything has gotten so much better since you got here.”

Anne frowned. “Sprig, I know you are just trying to make me feel better-”

“Anne?” Hop Pop’s voice called from above them. “Sprig? Where are you kiddo?”

“Here!” Sprig shouted. “We’re down here!” 

Anne looked to see the flickering of lanterns.

“Careful Hopidiah, I think I see the pit right there,” a second masculine voice said. 

“Stumpy?” Anne asked, her face twisting in confusion.  

“Well, don’t just stand there wasting time, young man,” an older female voice ordered. “Tie the rope around that tree so we can get our girl out.”

“Mrs. Croaker? What are they both doing here?” Anne asked. 

“Looking for you,” Sprig explained. He didn’t understand why Anne was so surprised. “The whole town is! Once I told them what happened, everyone wanted to help find you.”

“The… the whole town?” Anne asked.

“Of course! They were all really worried about you when I told them you were trapped in a pit you couldn’t hop out of. The whole town organized a rescue party… which is kind of why it took so long, because everyone wanted to help. Even the mayor came out to look for you.”

“Tie this rope around yourself, kiddo,” Hop Pop called as he threw down the end of the rope into the pit. “We’re all goin’ to pull yew up!”

When Anne didn’t move, Sprig helped her tie the rope around her waist. 

“Anne, you’re thinking of things the wrong way,” Sprig said. “It’s not about if things would have been safer for us if you hadn’t come here. Thinking like that will just drive you crazy. The point is, you’re here now, and we all want to help you, because you’re one of us.”

The rope grew taut and Anne looked upwards.

“Alright everyone, get ready to pull,” the mayor directed from someplace behind the townsfolk who had each grabbed a section of the rope.

“Sprig, are you sure I’m not too much for them?” Anne asked. 

There was something about Anne’s questions that felt wrong. She didn’t ask if she was too heavy, she asked if she was too much. 

Sprig shook his head with a small, knowing smile. “You know, just recently we learned we're actually pretty strong when we work together. So don't worry, Anne, we got you.”

Chapter Text

“Hey Anne!” Sprig greeted as Anne made her way back to where Sprig was waiting for her. They had both bought supplied Hop Pop needed at the market and it was time to head back home. “Where were you? I was looking for you everywhere!”

“Sorry, dude. I got caught up talking with Wally. I guess I just lost track of time.” She fell into step beside Sprig as they started walking back home. 

“What happened to not liking him because you thought he was a weirdo?”

“He is weird,” Anne agreed. “But he’s not so bad once you get to know him. I guess it's just like my mom always says, ‘pâa kêe ríw hòr tong.”

Sprig’s head spun around so fast, she was surprised he didn’t hurt himself. “Did you just speak in tongues?”

Anne huffed and rolled her eyes. “No, its Thai. It basically means… the rag covers gold… kind of like… you can't judge something by appearance because there might be something good underneath.”

“Ohh…” Sprig paused. “What’s Thai?”

Anne stopped walking. “I’m Thai.” 

Sprig also stopped and tilted his head to look up at her. “I thought you were human?”

“I am.” Anne paused as she tried to determine the best way to explain this to him. “I’m a Thai... human? Wait, that sounds weird. Technically, I’m a Thai-American but that wouldn't make any sense to you.”

“None of this makes any sense to me!”

Anne sighed and ran a hand through her hair as she considered what explanation would make the most sense to Sprig. “Okay, so you know how on Suspicion Island there are a bunch of humans that all look different from each other?” 

Sprig nodded.

“And like, how there are different frogs that come from different places? It's kind of like that. My family is from a place called Thailand. I've only visited a few times but it was a lot of fun,” Anne said wistfully. 

“So you are Thai and you can speak Thai…” Sprig said slowly. “That's really cool, Anne! Actually, when you think about it, it's pretty amazing we speak the same language at all. It's a good thing too. Think of how much harder it would have been to convince everyone that you weren’t a monster if they couldn't understand you.” 

“Yeah, you would probably still think I was trying to eat you,” Anne said with a chuckle. 

“Nah!” Sprig waved his hand dismissively. “We would still be besties. We never let any of our other differences stop us from becoming friends.” 

Anne smiled warmly at that. “That's true.”

They started walking again. The sounds of the busy market faded away and they were left with just the sound of dirt crunching underneath their feet.

“Will you teach me?” Sprig asked eagerly.

Anne looked over at him in surprise. “You want me to teach you some Thai?”



“Why not? It sounds really cool!”

Anne smiled. “None of my other friends were interested in learning Thai.”

“Why not? It’s sounds so cool! How do you say frog in Thai?”


“Gop?” Sprig tried the word out on his tongue. “That’s awesome! If you teach me more then it will be like we have our own secret language that no one else in Wartwood understands!”

“That actually sounds pretty fun,” Anne admitted, a large grin spreading across her face at the thought of trading secret words and laughing together as Hop Pop and the rest of Wartwood tried to figure them out.

Sprig’s smile faltered. “Maybe we should keep this a secret from Polly.”

“She's going to ask me to teach her curse words.”

“She’s going to ask you to teach her curse words, yeah.”

Chapter Text

“My hat!”

“I got it!” 

“No Anne, wait! Come back!”

It all happened in a blur. 

It had been a windy day as they traveled towards Newtopia, and the Plantar family was keeping one eye on the sky in case a storm started brewing. The family was sitting together on the top of the Fwagon when a large gust of wind took everyone by surprise, and Sprig didn’t have enough time to grab his hat before it flew off his head towards a small lake.

Anne reached for the hat, but it fluttered just out of her grasp. In her frustration, she jumped off the Fwagon to chase after the hat.

“Anne, come back!” Hop Pop shouted desperately after her.

“Anne! Anne, wait!” Sprig called.

“Is she doing what I think she’s doing?” Polly asked in horror.

However, Anne didn’t seem to hear their panicked cries as she continued after the hat, which had landed in the middle of the small lake, floating just on top of the water’s surface.

Sprig’s heart sank as the unusual scent in the air confirmed exactly what that water was.

To their horror, Anne splashed without hesitation into the water. It only came up to her stomach, but that was enough to incapacitate anyone.

“It’s too late…” Hop Pop breathed.

But then… Anne didn’t slow down. 

“I got it!” Anne shouted triumphantly as she turned to show her family Sprig’s hat, which was clutched tightly in her grasp. She was grinning, looking completely unharmed, until she saw the expressions on the Plantar’s faces. Her grin faltered. “Wh-what?” Anne asked nervously as she glanced around the lake. “Is there some sort of monster? O-or giant leeches, or something else I don’t know about?”

“No, just… just get out of the water quickly,” Hop Pop said, his voice shaking. “Before your skin starts burning and you dehydrate completely.”

“I… what?” Anne glanced at the water in confusion.

“That’s a salt lake, Anne! Didn’t you hear Hop Pop when he was talking about this area?” Polly asked. “He said there were naturally forming salt lakes all over!”

Anne seemed to be processing this information, her face transforming from fear to contemplation. To the Plantar’s horror, she lifted up a finger, dipped it in the water, and then brought it to her tongue.

The frog family gave a collective shudder.

“Hey, it is salt water!” Anne said brightly, and miraculously, unharmed. 

Hop Pop sighed to himself. “Frog… I swear, she’s taken more years off my life than both Polly and Sprig combined.”

“Salt doesn’t bother you?” Sprig asked with an impressed grin. 

“Nope, in fact, back home we have this huge body of water called an ocean that’s entirely salt water. We would swim in it all the time. I know snails don’t like salt, but frogs?” Anne asked as she started to make her way back to shore.

“We need water to live, Anne,” Hop Pop explained in an exasperated voice. “Salt sucks all the water out of our skin, burning and eventually killing us if we are exposed to too much.”

“Right, and my skin is different than yours,” Anne said thoughtfully. “Salt water doesn’t really burn us, unless we get in an open wound or it gets in our eyes, but even then it doesn’t kill us.” 

Anne stepped out of the lake, water dripping from her clothes. She began to wring out Sprig's hat.

“Huh…” Anne continued thoughtfully. “I guess that explains why I couldn't find any salt for the Thai food I was making at Stumpy’s restaurant. I guess it’s a good thing I wasn’t able to find any to add to the food, huh?” She chuckled awkwardly 

The Plantars stared at her, mouths hanging open in horror.

“You put it in your food?!” Polly shouted, her eyes wide. 

“Yeah, it tastes good,” Anne said with a shrug.

“You… you terrify us sometimes, Anne,” Hop Pop said with a shake of his head. “We love you, but you terrify us.”

“I especially love you because you're terrifying!” Poly added with a grin.

Anne frowned. “You know, out of everyone in this world, I count on you guys to not treat me like a monster.”

Silence followed Anne’s comment as the Plantars glanced at each other. 

“Aww, Anne, we don’t see you that way,” Sprig said as he jumped off the Fwagon and landed in front of her. “I think it’s cool that you have super strong skin and are immune to salt! Who else can walk into the death lake and get my hat back for me?”

Anne sighed. “I know you guys don’t see me that way, I’m sorry. I guess meeting people on the road that freak out at the sight of me is bringing back bad memories from when I was considered a monster back in Wartwood.”

Hop Pop scooped Polly up into his hands and hopped off the Fwagon, landing next to Sprig. “No Anne, I should apologize. I know you're sensitive to that kind of talk, and you have a right to be. You weren’t treated properly because of how different you are.”

“Yeah, sorry Anne,” Polly apologized. “If it helps, I don’t see you as a monster. You’re more like a super-cool warrior!”

Anne smiled. “That does help, and I guess I really can’t blame any frog for being frightened of me. I’m a foreign creature that adds a deadly mineral to her food just for taste. Not to mention how much taller and stronger I am compared to frogs. If a creature like that showed up in my world, I would freak.”

“Perhaps some fear was justified at first,” Hop Pop agreed. “But once frogs get to know you, it’s easy to tell you’re the furthest thing from a monster, Anne.”

“Yeah, we’re lucky to have you in our family, tough skin and all!” Sprig agreed. 

“Aww, thanks guys.” Anne moved to hug the Plantars, but froze when they took a sudden step backwards, fear flashing across their faces. 

“Yer still covered in salt water, Anne,” Hop Pop reminded her with a grimace. “Maybe we can continue this family hug moment when you’re not going to burn our skin off?”

Anne chuckled guiltily. “Oops. Yeah… good plan… good plan.”