Chapter 33

Once upon a time, in a land far far away…

Incy Wincy wrote a story for school and didn’t use Turnitin. So Quackling engaged in a bit of plagiarism and this is how the first part of the story goes:

Quackling went up the sea, to the land of her ancestors. The days were short and winter solace had arrived. The migratory birds above headed in the opposite direction to warmer lands. Once in the distant past her parents flew south with these birds, but settled permanently in a warm piece of Far Far Away with a year-round food source. Tropical savanna, but not in Havana…  half of that land grew banana-na-nas.

Back to the present – the land up to the sea had a permanent lack of contrast and saturation because the very unhygienic air made the sun sick and sniffly. Whenever the wind blew, a damp chill tickled Quackling’s bones. Shaking or blowing her feathers didn’t dry them. Pressing against a hot iron did, however, roast her feathers dry a little.

On a windy day like this she would normally shelter at Ye Olde Woods – the magical boscage of her ancestral home. Here the trees dripped with golden sap that gave life to all surrounding flora and fauna. Rumour had it that deep in the woods there stood an enchanted tree with giant branches that could take you to distant lands.

On a wintery day like this the woods would be lined with straight rows of dark trunks that stood tall and proud. Outwardly unimpressive, the trees were dressed with only scant wine-coloured leaves or rows of common brown sparrows. However, each arched trunk-door opened up to a snug home that had a life of its own.

On a wet day like this every creature had a tree and Quackling would scurry off to hers. The trunk that protected them would stand sturdy, though somewhat weathered. The letters and scribbles carved into the branches where the little ones once climbed and played remained unchanged. Year in year out the wooden furnishings inside waited patiently, as did the old wooden cuckoo that dutifully poked its head out each hour.

Each time she came, the tree-home welcomed her with a glassful of hot green tea made with dried spring-leaves and a full jars of nuts harvested in autumn. At dusk Quackling would sink into a large cushion and peer out a small round window as the lights came on. There was always plenty of entertainment with pesky purple possums at the neighbouring trunk-house to the right and squeaking scrambling squirrels on the left.

But oh deer! The occasional wild darting dashing darling deer always managed to tear her eyes away from undrawn curtains. Ye Olde Woods felt like it existed before the beginning of time and was the kind of place that stayed the same forever and ever.


That’s all folks. The end.


Chapter 32: Picture Book Edition

Long long ago, in a land far far away…


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

That’s all folks. The end.

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.