A friend requested a story to fit her book of illustrations. The illustrations will follow in due course. It is a story with seven chapters (seven illustrations, that is) and the story starts here. In the meantime, I have sketched my impression of Doris (see below).
Doris the Duck was all about caring. There were many who cared about others, but Doris did it consistently, carefully and conscientiously. You could always rely on Doris to be there when you needed her. Doris would care above and beyond the call of duty.
She certainly did when it came to caring for Maurice the Fun-Loving Monkey.
Maurice had fallen out of a tree after his swing had broken. His friends had done all they could to make sure he was taken swiftly to be taken care of by Doris. They knew she would know just how to nurse her new patient.
It turned out that Maurice was a patient who would test anyone’s patience.
At first, Maurice wasn’t aware that he was a patient. His head was still fuzzy from the fall and he had drifted off to sleep while Lucy and Lynette the Lamenting Lyre Birds had sung their beautiful song.
While he was sleeping, Doris carefully washed the mud off Maurice (for he had fallen into a muddy puddle underneath the tree). Then she plucked the leaves from his fur (for he had fallen past several branches on his way down). She removed the splinters from his hands (for he had made the swing himself) and she laid him gently on a bed of fresh leaves and soft grass.
This took Doris quite some time. Having wings, not hands or paws, made things a little trickier. But Doris was up for a challenge!
When Maurice woke up, things got a little more challenging.
‘Nurse!’ cried Maurice.
‘Yes, Maurice?’ replied Doris.
Doris hurried to the pond and brought some lovely cool water back for Maurice to drink.
‘I’ll fetch you something to eat,’ said Doris.
‘No, don’t leave me! I’ll be lonely! Oh, so lonely! So, so lonely!’
What was Doris to do? She couldn’t find food and keep Maurice company.
She soon came up with a solution. Doris was good at problem-solving. In her spare time she’d been taking crisis-calming classes taught by Frank the Rapid-Fire Response Frog.
She called Bernard and Barry the Data-Collecting Bears. They were willing to help and knew just the right places to find food. They had very good taste in food and Doris had every confidence that they’d come back with just the right thing.
While they searched for food that was both nutritious and made from the finest ingredients, Doris sat with her lovely soft wing around Maurice’s shoulders. Maurice was very happy. At least for a little while. Then,
‘No need to shout, Maurice. I’m right here.’
‘But I’m bored! B-O-R-E-D! Bored, I tell you! This being a patient is no fun whatsoever!’
Doris managed not to take this personally. She smiled patiently, then suggested that perhaps Lucy and Lynette might sing a song to Maurice to cheer him up. Maurice thought that was a lovely idea. Lucy and Lynette were only too happy to help. They sang some happy songs as they flew around above Maurice. Maurice felt very happy indeed. Then,
‘What is it now, Maurice?’
‘I feel like nobody really cares about me being a patient, lying here all sick and sad and hungry’ (for he had quickly forgotten about the birds’ songs and the bears’ gourmet sandwiches).
Doris was relieved to see, at that very moment, Gordon the Complicated Giraffe coming to deliver a ‘Get Well’ card to Maurice. She knew for a fact that Gordon’s cards were always beautifully written and that it would make Maurice feel very special. Gordon’s card was beautiful and Maurice felt very special. For a little while. Then,
‘WHAT!’ Doris quacked.
Maurice was startled! Doris was always so patient with her patients. He started to cry.
Doris felt awful! She hated it when this happened. She had tried so hard to be patient and caring but she had got tired. Her wing hurt from holding Maurice. Her feathers were all muddy from all the waddling back and forth to care for him. She was hungry, too. Bernard and Barry had thoughtfully brought her an extra sandwich, but Maurice had liked the look of hers and she’d offered it to him instead.
All that pressure and she’d quacked! Doris felt awful! She waddled very quickly to the pond, swam out into the deepest part, ducked her head under the water and her tail in the air and she let out a great big ‘QUACK!!!!’ under the water.
No one heard her, of course. She didn’t want anyone to see how tired and overwhelmed she was. She felt much calmer with her head under the water, but soon she had to come back up for air.
When she finally came up for air, what she saw was not good! Things had turned very bad, very quickly.
Bernard and Barry were exhausted from running around finding more and more food. Their furry brows were furrowed – and when Bernard and Barry’s brows were furrowed, you knew they were not doing well at all.
Gordon was crying behind the tree because he’d started thinking about how he hardly ever got cards when he wasn’t feeling great.
Lucy and Lynette were tired from flying and singing endlessly to keep Maurice amused.
And Maurice? He was lying flat on his back crying and occasionally calling out ‘Nurse! Nurse! I have no nurse!’
Doris stuck her head back under the water and waited.
She knew He would come. It was times like these, when everyone was at the end of themselves, that He always came. She waited and trusted that He’d come again.
It was times like these that they all needed the King of the Jungle.
Tune in for the next chapter when the King of the Jungle will hopefully arrive. Will he be scary or kind?
Please feel free to leave questions, suggested changes, critique about the feasibility of the story, or other editorial comments below. This is a work in progress.