Chapter 32: Picture Book Edition

Long long ago, in a land far far away…

picturebook

There’s really not much to say – maybe getting too old for picture books and quack tails?

That’s all folks. The end.

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Chapter 31

Long long ago, in a land far far away…

Remember mother duck? And remember how Quacking didn’t want to be a duck?

Well, when Quackling was an egg, mother duck was ever so pleased that she was going to hatch into a duck and not some other creature. Because she herself was a duck before she became a quack. Mmm, being a duck is great! She nodded approvingly. You can quack, you can swim, and there’s always lots of fish to keep your tummies full. Come to think of it, Quackling can remember how she used to hang out on the waters with mother duck, long before she even popped out as an egg!

So mother duck thought Quackling was going to get bigger and better, and grow to be the biggest and bestest duck in a biggest bestest pond. But Quackling didn’t care about those things – or maybe she did, but not enough to make it happen. She kept going off on adventures, hanging out on dry land (shudder), taking some flying lessons, counting quacks and fish, sampling the soil, writing stories, hanging out with egglings and baby quacks, and all sorts of other weird things. ARGH, said mother duck. Why can’t you be a normal duck and be happy with a normal duck life?

But time heals all wounds… or does it? Anyway, mother duck came to be at peace that her not-so-little one was busy and content, with enough food from the pond and elsewhere to make her tummy nice and round. Importantly, Quackling also had enough time to be around and tell her stories when she got really sick. She always liked to hear those in-the-pond and out-of-the-pond stories, because she was satisfied that abnormal or not, Quackling could swim and had become a useful duck. Some of her duck friends at the pond even became Quackling’s friends.

Thus ended the decade-long feud between the two. Then in her sick bed, mother duck died. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men, couldn’t put her back together again. Life’s full of unhappily ever after tales, after all.

That’s all folks. The end.

Chapter 29

Long long ago, in a land far far away…

On her way back to Far Far Away, Quackling stopped by the place that was always as sunny as summer. The land of cats and ibises. Out of all her friends she missed Grizzly the bear the most.

Now bears were from beyond Far Far Away but in those crazily crowded woods anyone could end up as neighbours. Quackling had friends big and small, but wasn’t too sure about bears to begin with. After all, they kind of had bad press and ate things. Plus, Grizzly was big and tall, taller than all the creatures of the land. Grizzly knew very well what the neighbours thought. Did they say, be careful? How could anyone fall sleep with a bear next door, right? He grinned, flashing his beary bare canines that outmatched those of even Great the Dane.

Back then, Grizzly didn’t speak much FarFarish. He used to say that Bearish was the most beautiful tongue in all the lands. All throaty growls and roars, Quackling thought, unconvinced. Fortunately, he turned the GRRRRRs into lucrative work, guarding millions of dollar’s worth of cauldrons and potions by moonlight each night, for a rich witch with a twitch.

But by day he was friendly and friends with absolutely everyone. A smile for the scruffy ibis up the tree, a clawshake for the grumpy old bear down the road, a light-hearted prank for the sleepy sloth at the corner store. They all knew him by name. Grizzly especially loved stopping to talk to little ones but was gentle and careful so as to not frighten the parents. It’s different here, he sighed, back in bear country mama and papa bears get angry if you don’t stop to play with their baby bears! They’d say, but he’s so cute and oh-so-grizzly!

Grizzly missed home and wasn’t a huge fan of the crazily crowded woods. These trees are crap and flap about in the wind, he complained. Where I used to live we had proper trees, you know, tall and strong ones. It’s ugly too. Where I used to live we had a beautiful garden and very nice roses. Where I used to live…

There’s a bear in there
And a chair as well
There are people with games
And stories to tell…

Reaching for a branch, he’d snap off a bit of wood to shape into yet another DIY pipe. Disgusting! Quackling coughed, as smoke rings merged into little clouds around them. He smoked so much that he huffed and puffed like an old wolf (so they discovered, on a friendly race across her favourite haunt – the graveyard). It’s very bad, I know. I need to quit, he’d always say. But I’m addicted.

Between puffs of smoke, Grizzly sometimes talked about bear country. I saw arrows and spears flying not far from me, he said. Our cave is safe but I feel sorry for others out there. Tribes are fighting everywhere and lots of bears are being killed. Some come to us but we don’t have enough room for everyone. The little ones are so innocent… but no one here cares about bears. He growled, angry and heartbroken at the apathy.

So great was the contrast between the bigness of his heart and the smallness of hers. Feeling guilty, Quackling could never quite bring herself to ask her friend whether bears really mauled more than other creatures. It didn’t feel right either, dipping bread in the same bowl, to ask what this bear thought about the palatability of birds and other edible creatures.

That’s all folks. The end.

Chapter 28

Long long ago, in a land far far away…

peacock

Unsurprisingly, Pretty the Peachick wasn’t the ideal companion for the road. It started something like this. Hi my name is Pretty the Peachick. My nickname is Princess Pretty, the Peachick. My name means that I’m pretty, which of course I am. What about yours? Oh, Quackling? You mean you’re a quack, quack quack like a duck? Like the ugly duckling? LOL. That’s so ridiculous.

It got worse from there. They came to a river. Quackling started dipping her feet in the water, getting ready to swim across. Alas! Pretty could not swim. Argh, all the ducks I met were so jealous of my prettyful, colourful feathers, she snarled. So much prettyfuller than their boring shades of grey. They were oh-so-jealous that they never taught me to swim!! I could show you if you want, Quackling offered. (Uh, or you could just, you know, fly across… right?) Show off, Pretty put her head high up in the air. Swim! Where did you ever get such an idea. You make it sound like I want to be an ordinary quack like you.

Uhhh, Incy Wincy interrupted. I don’t want to tell you off, but I don’t think you should be telling this kind of stories. What if Pretty reads it, you know?

Oh well to cut a long story short Quackling remembered her promise to the cockatiels who helped them both. They got back to Far Far Away without murdering one another.

That’s all folks. The end.