Tuack-Tuack was a duck.
A yellow rubber duck.
And he lived with five other ducks in the land of Ba-throom. It was a small land, with precarious ledges, a white sky, and a lake that drained and filled without warning, but the ducks loved it…all except Tuack-Tuack, who had never found the courage to venture off the ledge. The fall to the water was too steep, and the whirlpool at the far end made his body shake.
Tuack-Tuack was a yellow scaredy-duck.
Every once in a while, two giants visited the land of Ba-throom to swim in the lake. Tuack-Tuack didn’t mind the big giant so much—it rarely swam, choosing instead to quietly watch from the banks—but the little giant was another story. It was loud and shrill and often made waves by smacking its hands in the water.
It was the little giant who had named him.
Fietuck-weeoo-weeoo had come second. He was a red duck from the land of Mar-ket.
“Look, it’s red!” the big giant had said the day Fietuck-weeoo-weeoo entered Tuack-Tuack’s world. “What else is red?”
“Fietuck!” the little giant had yelled while clapping its hands. “Weeeeeeooooo weeeeeeooooo weeeeeooooo!”
Dwass, a green duck from the land of Carni-val, came next. Then Pincess, a pink duck from the land of Mall, and Watuh, a blue duck from Grand Mas-house.
Last had been Tider. Tider was the newest member of the group. Sometimes the others roared after they said Tider’s name—as the little giant had done—but most of the time they just said Tider and left it at that.
“Atten-hut!” Dwass’ bellow filled the lake. “Move out!”
Knowing that a whirlpool always followed the giants’ departure, the other ducks hurried to obey.
“Why we have to live and breathe by the giants’ whims is beyond me,” Fietuck-weeoo-weeoo griped, flinging himself onto the ledge and shoving his way past Tuack-Tuack to the corner.
“Roll call!” Dwass shouted once they were all out of the water. “Fietuck-weeoo-weeoo?”
“Yeah, yeah. I’m here.”
Silently, Watuh nodded, and Tuack-Tuack declared him “here.”
“I do declare,” Pincess answered in her slow, honey-laced drawl, “my paint is peelin’ off ‘round the edges! However did that happen?”
“Tider? Tider? Has anyone seen Tider?”
They all looked around, and Tuack-Tuack’s heart jumped to his throat. “There,” he choked out. “By the whirlpool.” A sickening pit opened in his stomach as he watched his friend being slowly sucked toward the far end of the lake.
“Oh! Oh! That poor little sugah’s gonna drown!”
“We need a plan,” Dwass blustered. “Yes, that’s it. A plan.”
“Let him get himself out,” Fietuck-weeoo-weeoo groused, settling down for a nap. “He got himself into this mess.”
“Why that’s just plain awful!” Pincess declared.
With a sigh, Watuh turned toward the wall and hunkered down. “He’s done for. No one escapes the whirlpool.”
Dwass’ pacing increased. “We need a plan. A good soldier always has a plan.”
“Oh,” Pincess moaned. “Oh, Tuack-Tuack, you just gotta do somethin’! Look at him!”
“Me?” Tuack-Tuack gulped. “But—I’ve never left the ledge!”
“Oh, you just gotta!” Pincess sniffed. “Fietuck-weeoo-weeoo and Watuh aren’t gonna do anythin’! Look at them over there in that corner.”
“What—what about Dwass? He’s the soldier,” Tuack-Tuack tried.
“Oh, Tuack-Tuack, he’s too busy plannin’ to do anythin’! You gotta help Tider!”
Tuack-Tuack bit his lip, feeling his rubber start to sweat. No. He couldn’t.
But that meant Tider was going to drown.
“Ohhhhh.” Tuack-Tuack buried his head. “Ohhhhh.”
“Help!” Tider’s cry pierced his ears. “Help!”
Without thinking, Tuack-Tuack threw himself from the ledge and felt warm water flood over him. “Gotta. Save. Tider.”
Floating with the current, Tuack-Tuack soon reached Tider and grabbed his wing. “On the count of three, swim! Three!” Together, Tider and Tuack-Tuack pushed against the force of the whirlpool, which was quickly drawing them closer.
“I can’t!” Tider yelled.
“Yes, you can! Swim!”
The two grunted and groaned as they resisted the savage pull until finally Tuack-Tuack could touch the ledge.
“Climb up,” he ordered, letting Tider climb over his back.
Above them, Dwass helped to pull both to safety.
Tuack-Tuack squeaked as he squeezed water out of his ear.
And then it sank in:
The yellow-bellied Tuack-Tuack…had been brave.
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