I’ve been asked several times to better explain the Tuckas after the last excerpt, so here is a portion of the book from before the last post. It happens earlier in the book and lightly explains what the Tuckas are, and how they relate to the story. There’s more, but this should suffice.
The Introduction of the Tuckas (Excerpt from Children’s Book)
by Senator Brett
The rain was pouring as they climbed up the hillside. It was so fast and furious that the three of them could barely see the path and so they took their time, one step at a time, for they were fearful that they might lose their footing and slide down the side of the hill. Tessa’s shoes kept coming off and she was getting angrier and angrier by the moment. Levi was using one hand to grasp at loose vines and the other to hold on to the Mollywump, which was a smart thing because the Mollywump seemed to have no problem at all walking up the hill on a muddy path. Apparently, being made mostly of moss, tree branches and lizard skin means that the rainy elements have very little effect on you.
“We may never get there,” grumbled Tessa, as she dug her foot into the muddy road and wiped the rain from her eyes.
“I’m not even certain that we should be going there,” the Mollywump said. “Since the two of you have gotten here it’s been one bad idea after another! I should have left the two of you alone in the swamp! Everyone said, ‘Yesoj, those two look like nothing but trouble!’ But, did I listen?! No! I had to be nice! ‘Be a nice host,’ I said. ‘See if they need help,’ I told myself. And, what has it gotten me?! Nothing but almost killed, that’s what! That Addonexus (For that is what the Mollywumos called the Screeching Lions) would never have seen me if it hadn’t been for the two of you!”
“Well, I’m sorry, but we absolutely HAVE to go there!” shouted Tessa. “My leg hurts and it’s not our fault that you’ve only got one doctor on this island that can help! Besides, you’re the only one here that knows the way.” Then she added, in a low voice, “Please, help us. We don’t have anyone else. We’re all alone.”
The Mollywump scratched his head with his leafy hands, slowly peered into each of the young children’s eyes and sighed, “Well, we’ve only got the one doctor that can help because we don’t normally have human kids on OUR island.” The he added, almost sarcastically, “If you were Mollywumps we wouldn’t be having this trouble. Nope, nope, nope… no trouble at all for us Mollywumps!”
“If I was a Mollywump I wouldn’t have normal legs! And, as if being a Mollywump is so great!” exclaimed Tessa. “You live in a swamp and eat seaweed, oyster shells and God only knows what else! You don’t even have ice cream, or birthday cake, or even real bathrooms, or movies, or tea parties!”
The Mollywump was silent for a moment. But, then he said, “But I do have normal legs, I just have normal legs for a Mollywump. It doesn’t make them any less ‘normal’ than your legs are ‘normal’ to you. And, I don’t even know what this ‘ice cream’ is, and I don’t know anything of ‘movies’ or ‘bathrooms’, but you’re wrong about us Mollywumps. We do have parties. Maybe they are not these ‘tea’ parties that you speak of, but, rest assured, we do have grand parties. Grand, grand, grand parties I tell you!” Then he leapt up and kicked his slimy feet together and whispered, as to not let the Screeching Lions aware of their location, “Grand parties, indeed, my little ones, grand parties indeed.”
It was just at that moment, almost as if it were on cue, that the rain stopped beating down upon them and a gentle wind came drifting through the trees. High overhead the moon hung bright and brilliant. The trees were slightly swishing in the wind and for a brief moment it was almost nice. They continued onward, following the Yesoj through the path among the woods. Levi had let go of Yesoj’s hand as they walked in silence for almost ten minutes before Levi looked at the Yesoj and asked, “What do you mean that you have grand parties?”
Yesoj stopped walking, which, of course, made Tess and Levi stop, as well. And, then, in a quiet voice, as if he was about to tell the biggest secret in his life, he said in an almost whisper, “Every once in a while, twice a year, there are two moons in the sky, and it last for five days. But, that is not the amazing part. The amazing part is that there are two moons in the sky, but it never becomes night. Once a year we Mollywumps get ten days of the year that there is no night.” He paused for a second as if he were thinking deeply, and then said, “Well, I guess if the truth be told then it means that everyone gets those two moons and those ten full days of no nights, but for some reason it sure feels like it’s all just for us.” Then the tall, leafy slimy creature grabbed Levi under his arms and threw him high into the air “But I do still believe that we throw the biggest, grandest, most best parties ever seen in our world, or any world for that matter!”
“Oh my God,” yelled Tessa! And Levi shrieked in laughter, and Yesoj did the same as he caught Levi in his branches. He placed Levi squarely on the ground and said, “For ten days a year there is no night. I know that you don’t know this because you are not like us, but Mollywumps hardly ever sleep anyway. So, for ten days our sunlight is longer and better. So, we have fantastic parties! We gather up all our food. We make fish bread and sardine cakes. Our women make Gobbledygook by the barrel load. We drink honey wine, sweetened by tree sap and sit by the fire with our loved ones and tell stories. And, we wear our finest branches, the ones we only wear during the Moon Days. And, for those five full days, twice a year, this whole world is ours, especially since the Addonexus get anxious and stay in their lairs the whole time. There is just something special about those days that seem to drive all the evil creatures of our world mad and scared. So, then all the fine creatures of our world join us. The Red Egresses come out and sing almost nonstop, the Lookie Looks and the Cartwheel Eels all join in for all of our fun games. And, we have a lot of games, fine games indeed! It’s fantastic, I swear! There’s never a finer party anywhere, not anywhere”
The Mollywump was grinning from one side of his tree branch face to the other scaly slimy side of it as the three of them began walking again. After a few minutes, Tessa walked over closer to the Yesoj and took his tree hand in hers. “I bet your parties are great,” she said. “I’d like to go to one someday.”
“Well, if you are still here the next time there are two moons in the sky, you’ll be my guest of honor, my favorite guest of honor by far.”
“If I’m still here by then, then something has gone horribly wrong. I need to go home. And, my leg hurts so much,” said Tessa, and then she scratched her leg where the Screeching Lion had bitten her.
The three of them continued walking and Yesoj said that he was pretty sure that he knew what other road they had to take to get to the doctor. He reminded them that he wasn’t entirely sure because his people had never needed doctors, or, for that matter, anything that human kids needed, but that he would do his best to get them to the doctor.
It was almost forty minutes of slow walking later when the Levi looked ahead and squinted. He knew he was seeing something off in the distance, but he wasn’t sure what it was. It looked like a group of… well, things, odd things walking towards them. Okay, maybe they weren’t “walking towards” but rather “shuffling” at them, but whatever they were doing they were definitely coming in their direction.
From what he could tell, they were all about three feet tall, extremely fat, and moved like pigs that had been mistaken as people and were walking upright. Well, to be more precise, most of them were three feet tall. There was one in the back that looked quite a bit larger, both in height and bulkiness.
Once he was sure that we was seeing something he asked, “What are those strange and curious things coming at us? They’re short, and fat, and ugly. I don’t like the look of them at all, especially the one in the back!”
Yesoj looked up to where Levi was pointing, squinted, looked again, and then shouted, “Oh! We’re in luck! Those are Tuckas!”
Tessa hadn’t seen the mysterious things coming towards them, and even after Levi and the Mollywump pointed them out, she still couldn’t see them. Maybe it was because they were so short, or maybe because it was night, but it wasn’t until they were close enough to be heard that she noticed them. “Tuckas,” asked Tessa? “Whatever do you mean? What are Tuckas?”
The Mollywump seemed excited and responded, “Yes, Tuckas! Fantastic! And, we’re very lucky indeed! Why, this is why we were coming this way in the first place! The Tuckas ARE the doctors in our world! It is a proven fact that when a Tucka holds you, everything that ails you will be healed, everything, everything, everything!”
And, then the Mollywump looked at Tessa’s leg, and where the Addonexus had bitten her, and said, “We better get you to one of those Tuckas right away! Hopefully, they will be willing to help. This may save us from having to go over the Bridge to Nothingness for…” and then he stopped shortly as if he was afraid to say what was coming next.
Tessa asked, “I thought that you said there was only one doctor in your world?”
Yesoj looked down deeply at the girl and said in a serious tone, “You misunderstand, small one, there is only one doctor in our world, the Tuckas. While it may seem like there are many, they are but just one.”
“I don’t understand. I see a few here, and I assume that there are more, so how can there only be one doctor if all you need is to be hugged by one Tucka to be healed?” responded Tessa.
“You will see. Mama Tucka will teach you. She is their leader for now. She is very old and very wise.”
Tessa protested, “But, I still don’t understand how there are many, but you say there is only one.”
The Mollywump sighed and said, “Close your eyes, little girl and concentrate deeply.” And Tessa closed her eyes even though she was somewhat wary of what the Mollywump intended. Then the Mollywump continued, “I am not as wise as Mama Tucka, but I will explain this to you as well as I can, as my father explained it to me some many years ago. Little girl, do you hear the sound of the Tuckas approaching along the path ahead of us?”
“Yes,” responded Tessa.
“And, little girl, do you feel the wind blowing across your skin even as we speak?” asked Yesoj.
“Of course I do,” Tessa replied.
Then Yesoj asked, “Do you not realize that even though there are several Tuckas coming our way that you only hear one sound of them? Do you not realize that the wind is coming from across the Tiamat Sea, and also from over the Kur Mountains, as well as the wind coming to us from my very own swamp? But, do you only feel one wind on your skin, correct?”
“Yes,” whispered Tessa.
“Well, little girl, there are many things in our world that may seem like many different things, but are, in reality, only one thing, like Love, and Laughter, and Healing, and, sadly, even the bad things are like that too… like Hate, Evilness, and Revenge,” said Yesoj to Tessa.
“Oh,” replied Tessa slowly for she had many thoughts in her mind.
Levi looked at Yesoj and asked, “Are you sure the Tuckas can help? Can they really heal anything?! Wait… are you sure that they will want to even help? Are Tuckas mean?”
“No, no,” said the Mollywump. “The Tuackas are very nice, very nice to their core. It’s just that they are sometimes afraid of strangers. And, I’m not going to lie to you… I don’t think there are any two other creatures in Lyrica more strange than the you two!” he laughed as he winked at them both.
As the two groups drew closer to one another Levi and Tessa could hear the Tuckas labored breathing. They were almost grunting, and as they walked they seemed to be almost grasping for air.
“Are they okay?” asked Tessa of Yesoj.
Yesoj said, “I think so. To be honest, I’ve never met a real Tucka. I’ve heard about them, and I’ve seen drawings, but this is the closest to them that I’ve ever been. The legend has it that they have been here on this island long before any of us ever came here.”
Levi said, “Well, they still scare me. I don’t like how they look.” And, in no time at the entire group, of about eight Tuckas, was in clear view under the moonlight.
Yesoj said, “Wait here. I’ll go talk to them. I’ll go see if they will help.” He fidgeted his leafy branches and strolled over to the group of piggish creatures. (To be honest, he looked quite nervous, but it was hard to tell because no one can ever know, truly know, what a Mollywump is really thinking. They are an enigmatic lot, the Mollywumps. I mean, after all, they are just moss and tree branches and slimy bones, and no one ever knows what those things are thinking.)
After a few minutes he came back over. “They said they would help. They said they have been expecting you. They said they were told that you were coming tonight so that is why they met us here, to make sure that we found our way.” He looked down and then looked back at the children, “Mama Tucka is here, herself. She says she has a message for you that she’s been waiting to give you for a very, very long time. I don’t know what that means because I just found you here on our island this very night, this very night indeed.”
Levi looked at Tessa, and she looked back. She nodded and he said, “Are you sure? They still scare me.”
Tessa pleaded with Levi, “We need help. And, we’re in this terribly strange world. And, as scary as they look, they might be the only people, okay, well, ‘people’ might not be the right word… but these ‘things,’ these Tuckas might be the only help thata we can get in this strange world. And, my leg hurts something awful.”
Levi nodded his consent and Tessa wrapped her arm around him as the two started walking towards the group of Tuckas. As they got closer, one of the Tuckas, the fattest, oddest-looking one of them all start shuffling it’s way from the rest of the group. When it was close enough to touch, Tessa reached out her hand and said politely, “I’m Tessa, and this is Levi. We are not from here, but we need your help. A Screeching Lion, or Addonexus, or whatever you call it, has bitten me on my leg, and we are lost in your strange world, and we don’t know how to get back home, and or even what we’re supposed to do.”
The short fat Tucka stuck her hand (That was really more hoof than hand) out and said in a voice that sounded more like a squeal, “My little rosebuds, I know who you are, and I know how you are. I even know why you are. I’ve been waiting on you for some time now.”
“Waiting on us?” asked Tessa. “But, why? How?”
“All in due time, my little heart, all in due time,” and then the fattish squealing thing looked at Levi and said, “And, my dear child, I know who you are, too. I’ve been waiting on you, since before I can remember.” Then she laughed/squealed, “All these years, and it comes down to this?!”
“Well, I don’t mean to be rude,” said Levi, “but you scare me. I don’t know who, or what you are, but whatever you are, or whoever, it scares me!”
“Maybe this will help,” said the short round thing. “My name is Mama Tucka and I’ve been here in this world since before time in your world even existed.”
“What do you know of our world,” asked Tessa.
“Yeah,” Levi said. “What do you know about us?”
Mama Tucka looked at the two of them, glanced them over, and said, “I know everything about the both of you. I’ve always known. Even before I knew you would ever actually come here.”
Levi looked at Tessa and Tessa looked at the ground. They were both scared.
“Come here, child,” said the fattish thing as it stretched out it’s animal-like limb to Tessa.
“I don’t want to,” replied Tessa.
“I know. I understand,” said Mama Tucka. “But, honey child, you have to come here. You’re hurt. You need help. And, your leg won’t heal on it’s own merit.”
Tessa took Mama’s hand and came in close. And then Mama Tucka took Tessa firmly in her arms and held her close to her heart. She rocked her back-and-forth, back-and-forth. Then she let go of Tessa and and held Tessa’s hands in hers as she stared at the girl. “There, there… there, there.”
Releasing Tessa’s hands Mama Tucka looked over at Levi, “My dear sweet boy, come here.”
Levi protested, “I don’t need to come close. I don’t need any help. I’m not hurt.”
Then Mama Tucka grinned and said, “Darling boy, it’s okay. But, one day you’re going to learn that sometimes there’s a small thin line between being scared and being in need of being healed. My dear young one, more often than not, fear is it’s own type of sickness.”
Tessa took Mama Tucka by the creature’s arms and asked, “The Mollywump told me that you can heal me. Will you heal me?”
Mama Tucka took her hoof hand and brushed the hair from Tessa’s face, “Why, dear heart, you’re already healed.”
“What?! How can that be?! You didn’t do anything other than hug me?!” exclaimed Tessa. Why do you say that I am now healed,” asked Tessa. “Because you hugged me?!”
“Yes,” said Mama Tucka.
“Look down at your leg, my dear,” the creature asked nicely.
And, when Tessa looked down she saw that the wound on her leg was completely gone. “Oh, my goodness!” exclaimed the young girl. “I’m healed!”
Tessa hugged the creature as tightly as she could and then whispered in the creatures ear, “From now on I will hug everyone that I know who is hurt. I hope it works for me like it worked for you.”
“Oh, honey dear child, don’t you know,” laughed Mama Tucka, and she released Tessa and grabbed her fat belly as it shook from her laughter, “that’s not how hugs work. Not real hugs, anyway.”
“Whatever do you mean,” asked Tessa earnestly.
Mama Tucka looked down at Levi and Tessa. She took a second, looked up at the moon and then leaned close. “Well, darling little things, hugs, real hugs have always been here since before all of Time began. All the real hugs in the world have already been made. There are no more real hugs left! Some of them have already been taken, while others have been reserved for a certain place and time. They’re just waiting on the right creatures to show up and use them properly.”
“But, I don’t understand” said Tessa, very matter-of-factly, “I’m certain that you just finished hugging me. And, I’m certain that it healed me. Also, I’m fairly certain that the hug is over. And, I’ve never even seen you before tonight. You hugged me just this very minute and it healed me. I know that for certain.”
Then Mama Tucka smiled and said, “No, honey child, that hug started long, long before you and I ever met. That hug started before the stars were born, and before the all worlds were shaped, yours and mine and the many others (Yes, there are many other worlds, but those are different stories for different times) before when the oceans came to life. Long before the Addonexus ruined their way, or the Tuckas started roaming the hillside and eventually ruling the caves of the Kur Mountains, or the Mollywumps filled their kettles with Gobbilygook, long before all that, hugs were made.”
Levi took Mama by her paw and asked, “But, I still don’t understand.”
Mama grunted, took her paw from his hand and said, “You already know the answer. You just don’t want to accept it. I didn’t make hugs, no one can make hugs. They are just real because they happened to be made a long time ago. But all hugs are meant for healing. You just have to be open to it. But, every real hug in the world was made before Time.”
Tessa and Levi looked at each and frowned. Levi turned back to the Mama Tucka and said, “But, if you weren’t there, how do you know when hugs were made?”
“Because,” she replied, “I’ve lived a very long time. And, I’ve hugged a hundred different things… some good, some bad. And, the truth is that one learns over time, over much time, the power of hug because it is an expression of Love.” Then she looked wistful as she continued, “And, Love can heal almost anything if the time I right and the creatures are good, and if their hearts are open.”
Tessa asked, “But, if you’ve hugged a hundred different things, how do you know which hugs were real?”
Levi giggled and asked, “Like a wounded leg on my cousin?”
Mama Tucka got a serious look on her face and said, “My dear boy, it can even heal a wounded heart, but that is a lesson that I hope that you never have to learn.”
The Mollywump, who had been pretending not to listen the entire time smiled, jumped in the air and jeered, “I told you! I told you so! The Tuckas can heal anyone and anything!” And, everyone, including almost all of the other Tuckas began laughing, except for the large one in the back who only kept glancing around all of them in every direction as if it were looking for something.
Once they had finished their revelry Mama Tucka asked Tessa and Levi, “Are your dear hearts ready to discover why and how you are here with us in our world?”
“Yes, please!” the two children shouted in unison.
“Okay, then it is agreed. I will show you everything that you need to know, but I must first warn you that it can be dangerous, and a lot of what you thought you knew might not be exactly what you think it is, and that you will have to open your hearts and minds to new things,” said Mama Tucka.
“I think we can do that. Also, it doesn’t seem like we have much of a choice since we are stuck here anyway. What do you think, Levi?” asked Tessa. Levi just nodded his head and took Tessa’s hand.
Mama Tucka took Tessa’s other hand and led them all to the front of the group and then the entire caravan began making its way down the path from which the Tuckas had first appeared. Little did the children know just how much their life would change in just the short time that lay ahead of them in this very strange world.