Pix: Hey Saturday, you seem bored, and we've never met. Tell me a story??
Saturday: A duck saved my life. Twice.
it started this way: i finished working at a coffee shop and walked to my car. "there is something different about you, car," i thought.
"there is a rubber duck glued to my hood," the car replied.
," i said.
I was so pleased. some friends and i were going to someone's house to watch a movie, and the whole way to the house i watched it, its little beak proudly raised into the wind, it's black eyes observant. The glue was still wet, so i drove slowly and carefully and watched out for bumps. He was so wonderful. Just a little sunshine-yellow flag held up to the world.
The movie let out at 2am or so, and i started the hour drive to my house. This was a time in my life when i was not sleeping much, preferring instead to walk the streets in the silent hours, when the bars were closed and the old people still in bed. So as i drove home with my glorious duck, the movement of the car and the warmth and the quiet began to lull me to sleep. This was on Hwy 17, the 7th most dangerous road in the US according to something, all tight curves and sheer cliffs. So of course i wasn't about to fall asleep and instantly plummet to my death. I used all my tricks and determination to stay alert. Not good enough, S. On the summit, passing the pizzafruit stand, my eyes dropped shut and i was gon-
A noise like thunder! Stampede of wildebeest! Tyrannosaurs on my windshield!
I snapped awake in a panic. There were no tyrannosaurs. There was also no duck. He had pulled himself loose from my hood and thrown himself at my head to wake me up. And it worked, i was alert the whole way home.
But he was gone! He'd sacrificed himself for my safety! I looked for him, but i had no real hope of finding him. He'd flown off right at the shoulder of a thousand-foot drop. I tearfully wished him well in the big paddle-pond in the sky. Then one day we were watching "Peewee's Big Adventure" at the Del Mar, and then planned to carpool back to SJ. Since there were so many of us, we needed to put backpacks in the trunk to fit all the bodies in the seats. I opened the trunk-
-and there was the duck.
Road burned, missing an eye, a little deflated, there he was. My hero! It was such joy and wonder to be reunited. I put him in the pocket of my coat for safe keeping and went on with my adventures.
Fastforward about 6 months. It was raining, and i was driving to class on Hwy 17 in a 1987 Toyota. I was wearing a coat i rarely wore, one of my mom's i think. warm and waterproof but faintly smelling of cat pee. I had driven this road 500 times, but this time the tires were a little too bald and i skidded. Everything slowed down, and i had time to think "i know you're supposed to steer into the skid, but that's really not the direction i want to go," as i slid toward the concrete divider. That was about it for me.
But i didn't smash up on the divider. In fact, I kind of serenely bounced off of it, and skidded the other way across two lanes of heavy traffic. Instead of smashing into me, they courteously stopped to let me pass, and i sped toward the thousand foot drop. But instead of plummeting to my doom, the wheels gripped and I was suddenly back in control. I was even facing the right direction. Nothing worse had happened than X-Treem Lane Changing.
In the stillness following fear, i put my hand in my coat pocket. There was the duck.
Every time he saves me, he looks a little worse for wear. A little more deflated. I put him to rest in the toybox with my license plate collection and my Baba Yaga's House doll. He's served well.
(cross-country road-trip update: i put him on the dash during my road trip, and over the course of the journey he turned back and forth, presumably alert for danger. i did not die in the 2-hours-long-3-foot-visibility hail storm in Arizona. i didn't die at all on that trip. THE DUCK.)
What's your story, Pixie?
Pixie/Molly: That is an awesome story. So awesome, that it's been almost a year and I haven't managed to find a story to be as epic. But I have to bite the bullet and write something, or the amazing ducky story will never see the light. In it's honor, I shall also write a duck story!
Once upon a time, there was a princess named Ariella. She had a pretty tiara, she had a pretty dress, and she had a very ugly rubber ducky. Both the king and queen had, over the years, tried to get rid of the ducky, but she has cried and screamed each time it was taken away. When her parents tried more "creative" methods of getting rid of it (such as "loosing" it by slipping it in the trash, or getting a guard to take it out) She would riffle through the trash, bribe the guards and go to any length to get it back.
This made sense to her parents at first. She was a child, and a some-what spoiled one at that. It was her favorite toy. But as she got to be 9... 13... 16... 18... they saw it more and more as a mental affliction and worried themselves silly over it. They took her to the court psychiatrist and even gave her embroidery lessons to occupy her mind. For some reason, embroidery didn't help, and the psychiatrist reported that she was perfectly fine, and actually a nice conversationalist.
What her parents didn't know is that the duck wasn't actually rubber at all. Nor was it really a duck come to think of it. It was at least half frog. *spoiler alert: the frog does not turn into a prince.* Another thing on the list of things her parents didn't know, was that the frog/duck (who name is Arthur) was actually a seasoned political and military straiten, as well as a very talented chef. The princess had been taking his advice for years, and even discretely passed it on to her parents when the time arose.
Once, when the ambassador from Trondeltor (the next kingdom over) had been pressuring the King to join him in war with a land over the sea. Arthur decided to hide in the room of the ambassador and overheard the reasons that the two kingdoms worn't getting along. He had come to the princess and ordered her to bring the ambassador dutch cookies (which were apparently the ambassador's favorite) and to make him read her a particular story book. When Ariella's father found out about this, he became very angry, and took away the duck. Much to the King's surprise, the ambassador wasn't angry at all. After the reading the ambassador claimed to have had an epiphany and went back to his kingdom. Soon the two countries were in peace talks, with the princess's father as the mediator. What the king didn't know is that the storybook was a love story, and the conflict had to do with the breaking of an arranged marriage.
Ariella loved Arthur because he was a very wise duck. Arthur loved Ariella because she didn't judge him based off of his very unusual appearance, or fondness of flies and stale bread. They talked for hours, teaching each other everything they knew. Arthur surly knew more embroidery stitches and psychological theories then any other Duck/Frog. Ariella knew more political and military strategy then any other princess. Both Ariella's parents were very busy, and none of the court dared disagree with her. Arthur was someone who could tell her she was wrong (something which she found frustrating, but desperately needed.) And so they were best friends until one fateful night...
When Arthur brought her the best news she had heard in awhile. Being 19, Ariella was at just that age where her parents were arranging which kingdom they wanted a peace alliance with badly enough to marry off their only daughter. Arthur had been spying on the prince's parents and they approved. Arthur then gave her the bad news... That the prince didn't like her.
Ariella did what any insucure girl would do in this situation, and burst into tears. Then she did what any prideful girl would do, and sang This.
Then she did what any insucure girl would do after the tears and asked why the prince didn't like her.
This almost broke Arthur's heart. Arthur had to explain that the prince thought she was quite pretty, smart, and an amazing conversationalist... but thought that she was a psycopath for talking to a duck at night. That made her cry even more, and she refused to talk to Arthur for the rest of the night...
and the next day...
and the day after that...
and suddenly the prince was being more friendly to her, and started inviting her out. And he was handsome, and charming, and very fun! He wasn't as smart as Arthur, but that meant that she got to be right more often. The prince did give her a run for her money though, and the two had a fantastic time together. She thought of Arthur less and less as the days went by....
But Arthur didn't forget her. He missed her wildly and started growing scales. Periodically, strange things would happen to Arthur's anatomy, but this didn't stop. He started to grow bigger and bigger
Until one day he looked down and realized he was a dragon.
The only sensible thing for him to do after that was to acquire large sums of money via theft and hoard them in a cave. He had never realized how wonderful shiny things could be! And he began to enjoy the terror that he inspired in people. When he made demands, people listened (instead of doing all of his work through a spoiledstuckupshallowgoodfornothingentitledprincess)
Still he missed her...
And so he did what dragons do in these kinds of situations, and kidnaped her.
And then a unicorn flew past (hey, it's my story, I can add senseless details)
She (who was scheduled to be married next tuesday) was very angry about being kidnaped. She clawed at him tooth and nail, which accomplished nothing . He took her to the top of his hill (which humans could get up to, but there were 10,000 steps involved and some pretty annoying switchbacks.) He then proceeded to set her down very gently and challenge her to a game of chess.
This made her aglow with happiness, because Chess was something she was good at. They played for two hours, and to her horror, the dragon absolutely demolished her. Then he did something else odd, and cooked up chicken stir-fry, complete with ginger and chive garnish.
They spoke minimally, and soon she fell asleep.
Meanwhile, her husband to be made his way up the 10,000 stairs, and started thinking about his love. She was sweet, kind, smart and fun, but there were definitely things she wasn't telling him. Like where she had learned to cook, or how she could give him such good advice on dealing with his court. Like the wistful look in her eyes which she got most nights as she stood alone in her tower, or walked by the pond. Like what had happened to the "crazy duck" which had been her only flaw. How she seemed to be getting more and more sad as the days drew on, rather then more and more cheerful as their wedding approached...
Next day, more wonderful cooking, 5 games of chess, and an angry outburst from the princess.
"How are you so good!?"
"I used to practice a lot"
"Why did you take me here?"
"I wanted a chess partner"
"When will you let me go?"
"When you beet me at chess"
"That makes no sense. If you want to get better, you have to play with someone better then you. They teach you the skills needed. Also, let me de-bone the chicken next time. Your claws are too big and you left a few in."
"Why should I trust you with food. Everyone knows that all princesses do is sit around and look pretty"
At that, Ariella kicked him (which accomplished nothing) and said
"I'll have you know that I had an amazing teacher for cooking. I resent being told that all I'm good for is my looks. I've spent more hours then you know studying and bettering myself so that I can do something good for the world. Now you've taken me away from the world and there is nothing to do here, but to play chess with you, which doesn't help anyone"
"It helps me"
"How selfish you are, to take me away from a kingdom I could be helping, you filthy beast"
"How shallow of you, for assuming that i'm beastly from the way I look"
This made her stop and a small part of her heart hurt unbearably. She missed Arthur dearly, and looked out over the pond, wondering where he was. She'd even started a nightly ritual of looking for him at the pond by the castle (because both ducks and ponds are quite fond of it.)
"Maybe you are right. Sometimes, I can be shallow. But you've acted like nothing but a brute. Other then the food... I haven't had food that good in a long time..."
This made Arthur think. Kidnaping and theft were kind of not his thing. Back in his original shape, both were things which he understood the moral framework behind. Depriving someone of earned property or rightful bodily autonomy were things which he did not wish upon himself. Nor were ether acts working to prevent a greater evil, or serve as a means of enforcing a just law...
It had been months since he'd had a good conversation. He hand't thought or questioned his actions in a long time. As he realized the monster that he had become, and that he was hurting his best friends, he began to cry. Now, as we all know, dragon tears turn into jelly beans!
Ariella was just confused at this point, but she figured now was a good time to escape, so she inched from the door.
"answer me this" said the dragon
"If you are cooking with shrimp, what spice do you use to cover up the smell?"
At that she hugged him, and apologized for all she had done. By the end of the night, the two were catching up, and eating jellybeans togeather.
The next day, when the prince found his way to the top, he wiped the sweat off his brow, struggled to lift his sward, and half heartedly said "come out and fight dragon"
his right shoulder plate fell off.
To his surprise, his beautiful princess strolled passed the dragon and hugged him.
"I want to introduce you to my best friend..."
And so, Ariella and the prince were married, and they had the unique distinction of having a dragon in their court. It made negotiation very easy, and the conversation was always delightful.
They ended the night with home made lasagna and lived happily ever after.