Last year I wrote a fan fiction piece during Writer’s Workshop with the students. I only shared it with a few of the kids, who either loved the story or thought it was very weird. I’m sharing it now to share with the ALC Community my 2017 Story Writing Intention. Currently, I am working on a longer fiction piece, one that will have all made up characters and is inspired by The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe from the Narnia series.
I had Alona’s permission to write using her as a character, but she had no idea what I was going to do to her in the story! I hope you enjoy it.
**If you have read Tuck Everlasting you will have a better understanding of what is happening in the story. This is a fan fiction spin off.**
I looked at the small spring of water, my mouth feeling dry and parched. I could almost feel the cool water trickling down my throat. Hesitantly, I reached out to touch it. Just touching it couldn’t have an effect on me, I thought. Yet, at the very last second, just millimeters from the glassy surface of the water, my hand froze, then I withdrew it.
This was not any ordinary spring. This was not any ordinary day. I stood here with the opportunity only one other person on this planet has ever had, the opportunity to experience immortal life.
I thought the story of the Tuck family was just a story. I read the book and watched the movie just like so many other children out there. It was made-up, fiction. Right? Wrong.
I found my mind wandering back to the day I met the Tucks. They were so curious about ALC and were eager to enroll their 15 year old son, Jesse. Now Jesse has been a student at our ALC for over two years. I could always sense a wisdom in his eyes that was well beyond the “17” years he claimed to be. Had it not been for the bond between Jesse & Alona, I would have never found out the family secret.
See, Jesse was Jesse Tuck. From the book Tuck Everlasting. The supposedly fiction book that has sold 2 million copies. For all these years, the Tucks had quietly hidden from the public, transforming their lives every few years, always on the move. The longest they ever stayed in one place was 5 years. After that, they had to leave or their secret would be out. They are immortal. Never aging, trapped, suspended in bodies that never change.
Sometimes they lived for years hidden in some remote off-the-grid house, living off the land and away from civilization.
Eventually, Jesse would either erupt with anger over the tedium and sameness of the remote living. The family would pick a town to move to and enroll Jesse as a very tall 15 or 16 year old so he could have three to five years of making friends and a “normal” life. But in the end, it was always the same thing: leaving, saying goodbye to everyone he knows, never to see them again. He would send them letters, and then as cell phones were invented, texts or emails, but always with the intention to slowly fade away and out of their lives forever.
Two years ago, our ALC was where Jesse ended up. He had never experienced a school like ours before and was full of questions. He loved the freedom to choose what he wanted to do and learn each day. I mean, think about how many trigonometry and P.E. classes he has had to endure each time he re-enrolled in school! Here, he was free to explore any interest of his choice, with other people who were excited to explore those interests too. He also had ample time to do what he actually wanted to do: make friends. That was the actual reason he would drag his family out of the safety of rural living. The loneliness was unbearable.
Within a week of joining us, it was clear that he and Alona were going to be great friends. He loved to write fiction and learn about biology. He had so many stories to tell from his 200+ years of living. He also had extensive experience treating animals without any medication. For during their time living remotely, there were no vets to visit on account of a sick pet or upon finding an injured wild animal. Therefore, he learned different ways to communicate with animals to understand them, as well as how to identify hundreds of wild plants that could be used to treat their injuries and ailments.
Alona, of course, was fascinated by his knowledge of healing. When Buns fell ill during the early weeks of Jesse’s arrival at ALC, Jesse quickly identified an iron deficiency and fetched some weeds outside for her to eat. Within a day, Buns was happy and energetic again. After this experience, Alona and Jesse were inseparable as they feverishly explored animal biology and healing, learning from and with each other. Alona also had years of research behind her, despite her young age. Combined, the knowledge they had of animals was remarkable.
At that time Alona was 15, and so was Jesse…supposedly. Of course two years later Alona was a full grown 17 and Jesse still looked exactly the same! He would joke that he hit his growth spurt early and that explained why he never grew taller or filled out more.
As Alona excitedly filled out college applications, encouraging Jesse to pick the same college or one near her top choices, inside Jesse was in agony. This was the best two years he had experienced in the last two centuries! To say goodbye to all of us now and go back into hiding again felt unbearable to him. For those who know Jesse’s story in the embellished, and what I thought, fictional, story, he lost gaining a forever friend and potential wife when Winnie Foster refused to drink from the spring of water that granted immortality. Jesse has long wanted a friend, a partner to share his life with before Winnie and ever since. His shared passions and deep friendship with Alona was too much to bear losing. His family felt his despair and his mother, Mae, was pushing for the family to leave soon before it became even harder for him to cut ties.
Again, for those who have read the Natalie Babbit version of Tuck Everlasting, you may have thought the spring was forever lost after builders developed the land and covered it with a concrete jungle. After almost being discovered during the Winnie Foster brush-in, Mae reached out to Winnie to spread a rumor that the spring was located in her family woods as described in the book. Then the true location of the spring would be forever hidden. Winnie told the tale to her children and friends as an urban legend, a fairytale of sorts, and eventually it was published in Babbit’s book as fiction. By convincing others this was made up, their secret was safe from the world.
Jesse wanted Winnie to join him in immortal life, yet Winnie could not do it. When faced with the decision, she realized all the implications that came with immortal life: including always watching death, but never experiencing it. It meant isolation and loneliness, as Jesse knew. It meant hiding your truth from the outside world. It meant constantly moving, never settling down.
Over the centuries of living, Jesse had wished many times to die, but immortal life was forever his curse. When faced with the realization that he would have to say goodbye to ALC and his closest friend, Alona, he snapped. He did the unthinkable. And then I became involved.
You see, a week ago, one week before the end of Alona’s last year at ALC, Jesse asked us to go on an end of the year camping trip. Since neither of them had cars yet, I was requested to be the driver, (and also for fun as I am a good friend to the both of them). “One last hurrah together as members of ALC,” Jesse proposed. Alona and I were excited to go, calling it their ALC graduation party.
Yesterday, we arrived at the campsite. Jesse directed us, saying he wanted us to go to his favorite camping spot. Without using GPS, he navigated me to the mountain by car. Without any map, he led us on a 4 hour hike to a remote campsite. He obviously knew this area like the back of his hand.
Yesterday, mine and Alona’s lives were still normal. Yesterday, Alona was still a mortal being.
If Jesse could be killed, I might have been angry enough to kill him for what he did! This morning, while I made breakfast, Alona and Jesse went for a walk to check out what wild edibles grew in the area. I was so calm and peaceful as I scrambled eggs and fried up turkey bacon. I remember humming “Lean On Me” as I cooked, one of my favorite songs. I was interrupted by the sound of hysterical sobbing and crashing in the woods. I looked up to see Jesse’s tear soaked face emerging from the brush nearby.
“Jesse, what happened?” I tried to remain calm, but my heart felt heavy and my eyes searched frantically for Alona. I didn’t see her anywhere.
“I…I…I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry,” he choked out between sobs.
“Jesse, where is Alona? What happened?” I asked, my concern growing.
“I…,” another giant sob bursted out, “just follow me.”
I followed Jesse through the woods, my heart pounding in my ears. He took me to a big tree with the small tide pool of water shimmering between its roots, and there Jesse told me everything, his past, is life, about it all.
On their hike that morning, Jesse led Alona to the tree. He wanted to ask her to drink from the pool and have immortal life alongside him, in hopes that his loneliness would end. Once they reached the pool, Alona ran over and drank from it, unaware of what this pool of water was or Jesse’s story. It was hot and she was thirsty. Through sobs, Jesse admitted that there was time to stop her, but he hesitated. He wanted her to drink it. He was worried that if he stopped her, and then asked her to drink from it, she would say no. So he didn’t stop her.
However, immediately after she drank it, Jesse realized his terrible wrongdoing. How would Alona ever forgive him? He robbed her of choice – choice in a matter that is life-changing. After letting her drink, Jesse dropped to his knees and told her everything. Alona slapped him in the face and then ran off in the woods. Jesse thought she must have been trying to get back to camp to find me. Still in shock over his grave mistake, it took Jesse a few minutes to get up and go after her. Unfortunately, it looks like Alona got lost in the woods trying to find me.
“Jesse, you know these woods well, right?” I asked.
“I know every nook and cranny. Every branch, every rabbit hole.”
“Go. Go and try to look for her in the woods. I think I need to stay near the camp in case she does find her way. I’ll find our whistle and blow it. I hope she hears it.”
Jess ran off. And now here we are back to the beginning of this story:
I looked at the small spring of water, my mouth feeling dry and parched. I could almost feel the cool water trickling down my throat. Hesitantly, I reached out to touch the water. Just touching it couldn’t have an effect on me, I thought. Yet, at the very last second, just millimeters from the glassy surface of the water, my hand froze, then I withdrew it.
Of course I don’t want immortal life. Right? I remember thinking about this when I read the book when I was younger. I remember thinking about what I would do in Winnie Foster’s place and knew I would do the same thing. Immortal life is not a gift, it’s a curse.
But a part of me is still curious. What would it be like? Never aging. I’d be thirty-two forever. I could have children and live to see their great-grandchildren. I think I could even convince people I was as young as 25 and then live in one place for over a decade without having to move. That’s an advantage I would have over Jesse, thankfully I wouldn’t be frozen at an age that looks so young. I would be treated as an adult.
But what about my government ID? I would have to get fakes after a time because when I’m 60 I can’t keep my same birthdate on my current ID! Logistically, immortality would be quite complicated. I have no idea where I’d even get a fake ID. However, the Tucks have managed, I’m sure they have figured something out.
Can I even imagine outliving my family? My husband, my children? That would be hard. I couldn’t imagine re-building a new family after my current one had passed away.
Wow, this is now Alona’s fate. She has to be thinking of all this right now, too.
Deep breath in. This is not an option for me. Unless…
Unless Tomis would drink it too. This is what Jesse feels! What he did was terribly wrong, but his loneliness and desire to have a partner join him in his immortal fate drove him to those few seconds of hesitation that has forever changed Alona’s life. Perhaps Alona will recover from her shock, and probably anger, and come to find excitement and happiness in her new fate alongside Jesse.