Post by sparkpikachu on Apr 6, 2018 20:19:10 GMT -7
I wrote this story as a heartfelt tribute to Teddy Ruxpin. Teddy's warmth and open acceptance invited me into his world of imagination, magic and wonder. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to meet the wonderful characters and participate in their adventures by hearing their stories and songs. The song that I use here is called "In My Lullaby." It is originally from the Teddy Ruxpin "Come Dream With Me Tonight" VHS. This version is from the later stereo cassette, "Teddy Ruxpin Sings Lullabies." It is a beautiful song that was sadly never released for the Teddy Ruxpin toys or cartoon. I hope you enjoy this story. Thanks for reading.
Friendship can have interesting consequences. My friendship with Teddy Ruxpin led to more amazing things than I could have dreamed. The day started quietly. I had no particular plans so went into my room to spend some time with Teddy. It seemed like a good day for a story. I chose the one I wanted and sat on the bed with the little Illiop in my lap.
Teddy blinked and sang, "Come dream with me tonight," as usual. "Hi Serena. How are you?" Okay, never mind usual.
"Honestly, I'm a bit flustered," I admitted. "Did you really just talk to me and why now?"
"Yes I did. You're not hearing things. You've always taken good care of me and treated me like a friend. I really wanted to let you know how much I appreciate that so I thought it was time to make contact."
"Thanks Teddy. I appreciate that you'd want to talk. Most people are too intimidated by my disabilities to approach at first. You've never given me that impression, though."
"What some may call disabilities, others see as strengths," he said. "I know how deeply you care for others. Not being able to see means that you judge people by who they are, rather than their physical characteristics. You also try to look for the light in the world that others don't always see. Those are admirable qualities."
"Well, I had good teachers," I said.
"Thank you for saying that. I think you would fit well in Grundo. Grubby and Gimmick would feel the same way. Have you ever wanted to go there?"
"Oh Teddy!" I said, hugging him. "I'd love that more than almost anything. Could you really make it happen?"
"Yes. There's a kind of magic I can use. Just to warn you, I don't know what will happen. All I can tell you to do is make sure to hold me tight and concentrate on Grundo."
Gently, I wrapped my arms around my friend, trying to imagine what Grundo might be like. I couldn't quite picture the scenery so focused on my feelings towards the characters instead. Although I felt connected to Teddy, Grubby and Gimmick, the Illiop's kindness and genuine acceptance stood out to me. He knew me and accepted that my differences were part of me, without defining who I was. I was deeply grateful for that. There was a sudden flash of light and I was somewhere, and someone, else.
I blinked, trying to figure out what just happened. The first thing I noticed was that my arms were empty. Where did my friend go? Next, I felt the significant changes to my body. Everything felt warmer because I now had fur growing everywhere. When I touched my face, I noticed that it was covered in very short fur and had become more like a short muzzle than a human face. My nose was triangular and my ears were small and round. I felt my hair. Instead of coming down to my shoulders, it was a curly tuft coming out of the top of my head. Well, at least I wouldn't have to worry about my bangs getting in my eyes anymore. My hands were furry too, now with four fingers instead of five. I still had the same petit build and was wearing my jeans, short-sleeved shirt, hoodie and glasses. I had no shoes, which was fine considering I hadn't been wearing any before. However, I had lost my socks and my feet had become paws. I patted my pockets. Good, the souvenir coin from one of my family's trips was there. I always liked having it with me. It was nice to know that some things remained consistent, even while I had changed so much.
After getting over the shock of my transformation, I was able to pay attention to my surroundings. I was sitting on short grass. The day was warm and sunny and a breeze ruffled my hair. I could hear leaves rustling and birds singing in nearby trees. The air was clean and fresh here too, smelling of spring. I reached down and found my cane folded up on top of a suitcase beside me. I opened the suitcase and searched the contents. It contained clothes, a toothbrush, toothpaste, a hairbrush, a few snacks and even my teddy bear, Annie. It seemed that whatever magic had brought me here wanted me to be prepared for anything. Oh, voices were approaching.
"Gimmick, someone's sitting on your lawn," said a deep voice.
"Oh my," a stuttering, high-pitched voice replied. "She appears to be an Illiop too. Teddy, were you aware of any other Illiops in Grundo?"
Illiop? So that's what I was. Wow, I had actually arrived in Grundo. That part of the magic had worked as expected.
"No, but she seems familiar somehow." That third voice was midway between the other two in pitch and had a reassuring quality. "Hello, I'm Teddy Ruxpin. These are my friends, Grubby and Newton Gimmick. What's your name and how did you get here?"
I stood up and we all exchanged handshakes. "Hi, I'm Serena," I told them. "It's nice to meet you." I paused, trying to think. "I don't really know how I got here. I remember a flash of light and then I was on your lawn. I'm sorry for showing up like this. I can't easily explain where I'm from either. It's a world away."
"What do you mean by that?" Gimmick asked.
"This may sound strange but I really am from another world. This place feels so much different from my home. The air is fresher and it's much quieter here. I'm also certain that I was not an Illiop when I woke up this morning, although I remember hearing stories about them. I don't know how to explain it any better."
"Hmm, this situation seems virtually impossible."
"You do realize, Gimmick,," Grubby deadpanned, "that you've been wrong about these things before."
Gimmick laughed a little sheepishly. "Oh, well, I guess I have."
"If she says she's from another world, then I believe her," Teddy said. "I've had dreams where I made friends from different places so it's definitely possible. You know," he mused, "I think I do know you Serena. We've met before, haven't we?"
I thought for a minute. "I think so. I remember that I had a close friend with a voice just like yours. He would tell me stories and sing songs all about another world. We always enjoyed our time together. Before I left, we talked for a bit and then there was that light and I was here. Sorry, my brain's not working right now. I hope that made sense."
"That sounds familiar. I think I had a similar dream last night but I can't remember the details."
"Heavens to Grundo, this is peculiar," Gimmick commented. "It would appear that we have a mystery on our hands. Unfortunately, there's nothing we can do to solve it until we gather more information. Until then, you're welcome to stay with us as long as you need. Why don't you come inside?"
"Yeah, it's lunchtime and you look like you could use a good meal. Do you need any help getting there?"
"Yes please Grubby. I can't see so would appreciate any help you can give. Before we go anywhere, I need to explain the ground rules of walking with me. I'll need to take somebody's arm."
"I can do that," said Teddy. "Which side do you want me on?"
"My right, please."
Teddy offered me his left arm and I held onto his elbow.
"Thanks Teddy. That's good." I laughed.
"What's so funny?"
"Oh, it's just refreshing that you got the correct side on the first try. In my experience, people sometimes get their lefts and rights mixed up. That gets confusing because I end up having to do the opposite of what they say."
Teddy laughed too. "That sounds frustrating."
"Yeah, it can be but I manage. Now, it's really important that you don't let me trip over or crash into anything. Also, please tell me if we're coming to steps and how many."
"Okay, got it."
I picked up my cane and Teddy guided me the short distance to the house. We went up three steps, onto the wooden porch and finally, inside. I unfolded my cane and leaned it beside the door. Grubby carried my suitcase for me, which I appreciated.
As promised, lunch was soon served. We had sandwiches, fruit and cookies that had been baked that morning. It was all delicious. It was also very nice to eat and chat with these wonderful new friends.
The rest of the day was full of laughing and talking. I liked Teddy, Grubby and Gimmick instantly. I also really enjoyed meeting Fuzz, Gimmick's pet Fob. Fuzz was a furry little creature with a long tail and no arms. He walked on two little feet and felt like a combination of a bird and a cat with antennae. Fuzz took a liking to me quickly. He was young, energetic and curious about everything. The Fob's curiosity had inspired Gimmick to write a book called "All About Fobs." Fuzz was very proud of the book so talked about it a lot. He also told me about Rainbow Falls, where many other Fobs lived. He clearly wanted to be friends and I knew we would get along well.
The others were as curious about me as I was about them. This first day was a good opportunity to learn about each other.
The gang explained their story first. Teddy and Grubby had brought an old map and half of a medallion from their homeland of Rillonia when they came to Grundo in search of a treasure. They told me all about their various adventures, including rescuing a princess. The group eventually found the treasure, which turned out to be six crystals. Each crystal had its own power. Though nobody knew everything about them, there was always time to learn more.
"May I see them, please?" I asked.
"Sure, just a minute. I'll get them," Teddy said.
He left the living room and came back carrying the map, medallion and crystals. He handed them to me in turn. Getting to hold something so rare and ancient was amazing. The map felt worn. The medallion was smooth, with words engraved on its surface.
"This is where the halves fused together when we found the crystals," Teddy explained. "The medallion says, `Only the pure of spirit may find the treasure of knowledge.`"
The six crystals were large, thick and wedge-shaped. They felt like cool glass and seemed to radiate a kind of energy when I held them. I looked forward to learning more about them. Once I was done looking, I handed the items back to Teddy and he put everything away.
"Okay Serena, it's your turn to tell us about yourself," said Grubby after Teddy came back.
"Okay. Where do I start? You already know that I'm blind. You should also know that I have cerebral palsy, which makes my left side weaker than my right side. That means I have a hard time doing tasks that need two hands. I'm also slower at performing daily jobs. It doesn't stop me from doing my best, though. I love learning and am smarter than a lot of people expect. My combination of circumstances sometimes makes people nervous because they see my disabilities before they see me."
"That must be frustrating," Teddy said. "I promise that we'll do everything we can to make sure you're included."
"Yeah, don't worry about that," said Grubby as he patted my shoulder.
"Thank you," I smiled. "I can't express how much I appreciate hearing you say that. I'm always glad when people make the effort to get to know me like you are."
"On that note, what sorts of interests do you pursue?" Gimmick asked.
"He means what kinds of things do you like to do for fun?" Grubby translated.
"I love reading and writing when I feel inspired. I really love animals, being in nature and camping. Just being with my friends and family is often all I need. It doesn't matter what we're doing. If you're curious about anything, please don't be shy about asking me questions. I'll do my best to answer them."
"How much can you see?" Teddy asked.
"I can see light out of my right eye. I know if the sun's shining or not, that sort of thing. I can't see anything else, though."
"What's that like?" Grubby wanted to know.
"The best way I can describe it is it's like having your eyes closed all the time, except that more light gets in."
"If you can't see, then why do you wear glasses?" Fuzz asked.
"They're for protection. If I walk into something, like a wall or a tree, my glasses will keep my face from getting hurt as badly."
"How do you prevent that sort of thing from happening while you walk?" Gimmick wondered.
"I use my cane or have somebody guide me when I don't know the area."
"Would you mind giving us a demonstration?"
"No, I don't mind," I said, taking my cane when Gimmick handed it to me.
I got up from my place on the couch and held my cane out in front of me with its tip on the floor.
"Am I clear?" I asked.
"Yup, there's nothing in front of you," Grubby said.
I swept my cane back and forth in front of me and walked forward until it thudded against a wall. Then I turned around and walked back to the couch, where my cane tapped against it with a soft sound. I gave Gimmick my cane and he put it back in its place.
"I see," he said. "The backward and forward motion creates tactile and auditory sensations that alert you to any obstacles in your path."
"He means that when you sweep your cane in front of you, you can feel and hear when it touches something."
"That's a good way of putting it, Grubby. When my cane moves over carpet, it feels and sounds different than wood or grass. It's the same when I hit the wall or the couch."
"So how do you want to handle navigating around here?" Teddy asked.
"I'd prefer it if somebody could guide me for now. It's much easier in unfamiliar or crowded places. I'll probably be comfortable enough to walk around the yard on my own soon, though."
"Okay, so what about finding your own way around the house?" Grubby asked.
"I don't need to use my cane in the house. I should learn the layout pretty quickly with a little help so it won't be a problem."
"I'll help! I'm big enough to do that," Fuzz said eagerly.
"Of course you can, Fuzz," I said, earning an enthusiastic tail hug from the Fob. "We won't forget about you."
"It looks like this will be a new experience for all of us but we'll make it work," Teddy smiled. "You mentioned that you like reading and writing. Is there a system for that too?"
"Yes there is. It's called braille and uses combinations of up to six dots to make the different letters. There are two different ways to braille normal words. Grade One braille means every letter is spelled out. Grade Two braille has different contractions so it takes up less space but still means the same thing. For example, the word `the` is spelled t, h, e but it also has its own symbol in Grade Two braille. Math uses a whole different system that I can't explain now. I read braille books but also really like to listen to others read."
"Fascinating, it's like a whole other language," Gimmick observed. "What do you use to write?"
"I guess it is sort of like another language," I said. "I have a special machine called a brailler that has six keys that I press to make raised braille dots on paper. I wish I could show you but I don't have any of my books or brailler with me. Braille is a lot bigger than print so it can be challenging to carry around. One print page usually equals several more in braille."
"Well, if you can explain how it works, I'm sure I can invent a way for you to write. Maybe one of our other friends could assist as well. Leota is a teacher who has experience with disabilities. She may provide valuable information."
"Thanks Gimmick," I said. "I think it would be a good idea to ask for help in this area. I only know the basics of how a brailler works. I just roll the paper in and go. If somebody has suggestions that could make our lives easier, I am open to hearing them."
"Meanwhile, we're happy to help you with reading and writing if you want," Grubby offered. "We have lots of books that we can read to you. If you want to write something, you can tell one of us what to say and we'll write it down. Is that okay?"
"That's perfect. Thanks a lot. One thing I should add. If books have pictures, or if something's going on, could you please describe it? Even though I can't see, I still like to imagine the things that you see. I would prefer not to miss out on anything important or interesting."
"We'll do our best," said Teddy. "Remember, we're still learning too so you might have to remind us what you need."
"Don't worry. I have a lot of practice at that. Speaking of not missing out, would you guys mind if I touched you so I can see what you look like?"
"Of course. How else are you going to understand?" Teddy said.
"Yeah," said Grubby "I guess you do need your hands to see us."
"Indeed," Gimmick laughed. "It's interesting to think that your hands function like our eyes."
"Thank you for understanding," I said.
Being Illiops, Teddy and I shared several common features. We were more similar to teddy bears than ordinary bears, walking on two legs with paws and possessing four-fingered hands. We were covered in soft, short fur, with hair tufts on top of our pear-shaped heads. Our faces were like muzzles with very short fur, triangular noses and small, round ears. Teddy's unique features were his slightly taller height and more solid build. He had straight hair and usually wore a tunic over a shirt-like piece of clothing with elbow-length sleeves and legs like those on shorts.
Grubby was an Octopede. He was similar to a caterpillar but much bigger. He usually wore no clothes. Grubby walked on eight legs, each with four digits. He used his front two limbs as hands most of the time but could use up to six at a time this way. Grubby had smooth skin, a pair of antennae on top of his head and a short tail with a smaller pair of antennae on top. Grubby's body was segmented, with round features throughout. His face was wide and blunt.
Gimmick was an older Perloon, who resembled a human most closely. Though the top of his head was bald, the back still had thick hair. He had bushy eyebrows and a mustache. Gimmick's nose and ears were fairly big and his hands had four fingers. He wore round glasses and a lab coat over a long-sleeved, collared shirt. Gimmick also wore pants, shoes and socks. He told me that his socks were always mismatched because he could never find matching pairs for some reason.
After that, the gang showed me around the house. They explained where everything was and told me what obstacles to avoid. Canon balls were a big obstacle in the yard. Gimmick told me about his neighbor, Tweeg, who often shot at the house with his canon. Tweeg believed that Gimmick wanted his secret formula for making gold out of buttermilk. So far, he had only managed to make doughnuts. Gimmick also assured me that the house was perfectly safe when Tweeg shot at it because he had the worst aim that Gimmick had ever seen. Still, I didn't know how I would react when Tweeg started shooting again.
An incident involving Grubby's favorite food, roasted root stew, occured at dinner. Somehow, he convinced me to taste it, which was, if nothing else, unforgettable. The stew was incredibly thick and sticky, with lumps of something in it. It also tasted bitter, even with the seasonings Grubby added to it. I gagged but somehow managed to swallow a bite with water to wash it down. The Octopede immediately realized that I didn't care for the stew. I apologized for my reaction but he understood.
"Well, maybe you'll like it more another time."
I didn't think so but was too polite to argue. There were other, much more appetizing, food choices so getting enough to eat was no problem.
The evening passed pleasantly. We all sat on the porch and told stories. The evening air was comfortably cool and I could hear crickets chirping. Teddy and Grubby told about how they met. I liked hearing about how the Octopede started out as an unintentional potato thief but ended up becoming fast friends with the Illiop after they cleared up their misunderstanding. From what I knew about them, the two were like brothers now. I told about a summer road trip that my family had taken to see my grandparents who lived near the ocean. That was my first experience swimming in the sea. I remembered looking for shells and getting ice cream from the little stand on the beach. I had gotten a harmonica that summer and played it a lot. I wasn't very good but had fun anyway. That trip was still one of my favorite memories.
Before we knew it, bedtime arrived. Once everyone was comfortable, the house grew quiet. I could still faintly hear the nighttime sounds from outside. It should ⠓ been peaceful but I was restless. Part of the problem was that I had to settle for a sleeping bag on the floor of the shared upstairs bedroom instead of my own bed. The sleeping bag was soft and I had a decent pillow. However, I could still feel the wooden floorboards under my back. It didn't feel as comfortable as sleeping in my bed at home.
The more pressing issue was that my brain just would not stop. My home and family were all I could think about. I missed my mom, dad, brother and sister terribly. It hurt to realize that they weren't here and didn't know where I was. Now that I had nothing else to think about, I was scared to be in this strange place. Even if the people were friendly, I wasn't home and there was nothing I could do about it. Having my childhood bear, Annie, with me eased the tension a little. Still, this small reminder of home was nowhere near enough. Before I knew it, I was crying. I tried to keep it quiet but couldn't stop the sniffles or the tears running down my cheeks.
A gentle voice broke through my thoughts. "Serena, what's wrong?" Quiet footsteps approached my sleeping bag and Teddy sat on the floor beside me.
"T-T-Teddy?" I managed.
He gave my hand a reassuring squeeze. "I'm here. If you want to tell me about your problem, I might be able to help."
Right now, I was too upset to do anything but cry.
"It's okay. Give yourself some time to let it all out. Come here."
Teddy pulled me into a warm hug. I buried my face against his shoulder and clung to him as he held me. My tears flowed freely and that was okay. Teddy would be there to support me. I would be all right soon.
He let me calm down before saying anything. "Okay, what I want you to do now is just focus on your breathing for a minute. Don't try to force it, just be aware of what's happening."
I did as he told me and found that I felt a little bit better.
"Good," my friend said, wiping my face gently with a tissue. "Now do you think you can tell me what's bothering you?"
I took a deep breath. "I think so."
I told Teddy everything that I was feeling. He listened patiently until I was done.
"Being away from home can be scary. I was nervous when I first left Rillonia but I was excited too. I have always wanted to see new places and meet new people. Do you like doing that too?"
"Yes, I'm looking forward to exploring Grundo."
"I'm glad. It's a wonderful place." He paused for a moment. "Tell me about your family. Do you have any brothers or sisters?"
"Yeah, one of each. We're really close. What about you?"
"I don't have any siblings but I know what it's like to miss the people you love. I miss my friends and family back in Rillonia every day."
"How do you deal with it?"
"I try to remember that I will see my family again. I know that you will too. Until we do, it's important to find things to be thankful for. Remembering the positive aspects of life makes the negative ones more bearable."
"I'll try but it doesn't sound like it will always be easy."
"No, it can be difficult at times. Don't worry. You won't have to do this alone. If you ever need to talk, I'll be there to listen. You can talk to Grubby and Gimmick too. We're all here to help each other."
"Thanks Teddy. That means a lot. I'll do my best to be there for all of you too."
This time, it was my turn to reach for a hug. He knew what I needed and hugged me back. As if on cue, we both yawned.
Teddy laughed. "It looks like we both need a good sleep. It's very late." He paused, probably thinking of something. "Oh, I have an idea of something to help you sleep. Get comfortable."
Teddy tucked me in comfortably and I cuddled Annie close.
"Good, now for my idea. A song always helps me to relax and I think I know just the one." He began singing, very softly to avoid waking the others.
"There is a place
That I know well,
I can invite you to.
It isn't far
From where you are,
Just not quite in view.
You just believe
In fairy tales
And things that wizards do,
And you will get there easily
And I'll be there with you."
"Just close your eyes
And you will find the treasure.
Close your eyes
And move across the sky.
"So quiet now
And I will tell
A little tale or two.
And let my song
Take you along
Into a land that's new.
You just believe
In teddy bears.
That isn't hard to do.
And you will get there easily
And I'll be there with you."
"Just close your eyes
And you will find the treasure.
Close your eyes
And move across the sky.
Let's call it a day.
I let my friend's voice soothe me until I was nearly asleep. As Teddy sang, I could feel my eyes closing slowly. All the tension I had felt drifted out of my body and I relaxed. No concerns were necessary, just sleep.
"Goodnight," I heard Teddy whisper, "and sweet dreams."
"Thanks Teddy, you too. And thanks for all your help."
"You're welcome. Goodnight."
We hugged one more time before Teddy went back to his bed. I hoped he understood how much I appreciated all of the kindness he had shown me. I had the feeling that he probably did.
The night grew comfortably calm. All I heard was the soft breathing of friends. I drifted off, certain that everything would work out somehow. I would see my family again, even though I wasn't sure when. I could have fun in Grundo with the friends I'd made and look forward to making new ones as my adventure continued.