The quaint streets of Olde Mageia were fringed by an assortment of shops. The Teaware Store, which was shaped like a huge teapot, stood in the center of a rose garden at the crossroads of this street. The curator, a wizened old man, had a mop of hair so white that he looked as ancient as the Earth itself. He had a twinkle in his friendly blue eyes and fine lines around them— signs of him smiling and serving everyone with joy.
I stood at my usual spot looking out at the bleak weather, raindrops splattering in the rose garden, beating down hard on the window panes and blurring the scenery outside. The warmth of the fireplace did nothing to banish the gloom in my heart. My best friend who always stood beside me with her cheerful face was leaving today to her new home. One of her hands was outstretched in a perpetual friendly wave — a spout of a teapot and the other formed a curve like the handle of a teapot.
But then, teapots we were,ceramic ones. Her, a Daisy Duck and I, The Ugly Duckling, the last one standing in the teapot section. Daisy teapot was getting bubble wrapped and packed. I knew that in her heart she was feeling torn. Doubly, because she was separated from Donald teapot some weeks back who was gift-wrapped to go to a faraway land, never to be seen again. Over the past couple of months, my siblings, the yellow chicks too, left one by one and so had mama.
When I had first emerged from the furnace, my glazed ceramic face was as gray as a shimmering raincloud. My spout was an outstretched frail and unsightly wing which held little appeal to little girls who wanted to host tea parties for their dolls. So, I was left behind only to bid tearful goodbyes to my family and friends.
Dusk was gathering now and the shop was closing for the day. This was the first time that I would be spending the night alone in the dark. With my duck family all gone, with my friends packed away to foster homes, all that remained in this shop was darkness. Christmas was ages ago and none wanted me. It seemed like I would be the oldest resident in this shop, save for the ancient owner. My dull gray feathers too were beginning to fade and so were my hopes to go into a family with doll parties. Whoever said ‘Believe in magic’, was a liar! Bah!
The chimes of the silver bells that hung at the door tinkled the arrival of a pretty young thing. A ten year old girl bounded in with her mother close behind her. “Slow down, June. Not so fast…”
June was dressed in a cloak sequined with stars and a matching pointy hat. She carried a tiny basket full of wildflowers and herbs. “Mommy, I want an Ugly Duckling teapot for my birthday present. I’ve never seen one before.” Wonder of wonders, someone finally chose me ! I hoped that I wouldn’t be packaged. I didn’t like to be tied up. She looked at me with a twinkle in her eyes and told the curator that she would place me directly in her basket. There was a shiny glass ball tucked amidst the wildflowers along with a strange shiny stick which spurted sprinkles of light. I marveled at the sights outside on the way home.
Great preparations were made for June’s birthday party. Children arrived with their dolls, presents and their teapots. I was filled to the brim with an aromatic, delicious amber liquid steeped in chamomile and lavender. It warmed my heart as I stood proudly as a centrepiece on a lace doily with the steaming tea inside me. I was surrounded by plates of cucumber-egg sandwiches, cups of ice-cream and jelly, and a huge bowl of… fruit punch! The birthday chocolate cake stole the show with strawberries on top.
So this is what a doll party looks like!
I glanced to my right and to my pleasant surprise what did I see, but Daisy teapot who had arrived with a little child! With her ceramic arms in an outstretched wave and a smile plastered on her ceramic face, she beamed at me with much joy. I was reunited with my cheerful friend ! June patted my head soothingly.
Did she know…?
It was well into the party when suddenly, a squabble broke out among the children. Before I knew what was happening, I was roughly grabbed by my handle and smashed to the ground. The tea made an amber puddle on the floor and was spreading fast. I felt like it left me bleeding. My wing was broken, my head rolled under the table and pieces of me went flying all over. Adding to my horror, another boy grabbed Daisy teapot and smashed her to the ground as well. If I could gasp, I would…
Daisy’s outstretched arm was lying near my broken wing and her face with her fractured smile was close to my head comforting my splintering pain. Something broke deep inside me to see Daisy in smithereens…
June shooed everyone out of her house. She looked at me assuredly and with a swish of her shiny stick, rained colourful pixie dust on Daisy and me…and…we were intact again! I looked at myself and I had regained my original lustre and glaze too. I was as good as new !
Oh boy! What hocus-pocus is this ! Who IS this girl…?
With a wink, June whispered, “Duckling, I hear what you’re thinking. I’m a wizard and I make wishes come true…I’m keeping Daisy teapot with me and you both will be together forever.” Daisy’s face was as bright as the sun!
Today was such an unbelievable day and June, the li’l wizard made me believe in magic!
Author Notes : Walt Disney inspired names for some characters.