Tommy the Timid Turtle grew up in the marsh afraid of everything around him. He was afraid the seaweeds would pull him under, the fish would eat him, and most of all, the sunken logs would swallow him!
He only swam in the water when he was meeting up with his friends Bobby the Bass and Harriet the Hippo.
One day, while swimming with his friends, Harriet and asked him why he was so afraid to be in the water with the rest of his family.
“I am to afraid.” Tommy replied sheepishly.
Harriet rolled on her back and paddled over to Tommy, ‘what is there to be afraid of?’ she asked him.
“To many things.” Tommy walked out of the water and sat on the shore.
“What are you afraid of?” Bobby gurgled to Tommy.
“I don’t want to say. You guys will laugh at me.” Tommy’s face grew red with embarrassment.
“We are your friends, Tommy, we won’t laugh at you!” Harriet assured Tommy they wouldn’t laugh. She even promised Tommy that she and Bobby would share something with Tommy that would make him feel less embarrassed.
“Well....” Tommy began, “I am not afraid of what is ABOVE the water. I am afraid of what is below the water. The seaweed scares me, the dark water is too murky, the fish are too large, and the logs can swallow me whole!”
Harriet came over to Tommy and sat down beside him on the shore. She was so big, Tommy wondered how she could ever be afraid of anything.
“Tommy, those are all really good reasons to be afraid! But if you have your friends with you, there should be no reason any of those things should scare you.” Harriet patted her hand on Tommy’s hard shell.
“What are you afraid of Harriet? I can’t imagine that a hippo your size could be afraid of anything.” Tommy stuck his neck out, peering at Harriet.
“I am afraid of spiders. Big or small, babies or adults, they all scare me.” Harriet shuddered at the thought of a spider.
Tommy rolled over onto his back and let out a big chuckle! He was laughing so hard, he had tears streaming down his face.
After a few minutes of rolling around and laughing, he got up and wiped the tears and calmly said to her, “Harriet, spiders are harmless. You are so big, you could just step on them and make it easy for you!”
“Tommy, what an awful thing to say ! They are living beings, just like we are!” Harriet exclaimed. The thought of a big hippo afraid of a spider made her burst into laughter too.
“Well, Bobby, it is your turn, what are you afraid of ?” Harriet and Tommy stuck their heads in the water to ask Bobby.
Thinking long and hard for several minutes, Bobby gurgled to his friends that it was not so much that he was afraid of it, he just didn’t like it. He explained to them that he had made friends with a few worms throughout his life, but they didn’t seem to stick around. They would talk to him and make friends with him within minutes of meeting him, but anytime he opened his mouth to talk to them, they somehow zipped to the surface to never be seen again. And that frustrated him. He liked making friends with worms.
“Well, there is only one thing to do. We have to conquer or fears!” Harriet replied.
Tommy stuck his head in the water at Bobby wondering if he, too, thought that was a silly idea. But Bobby agreed with Harriet.
“Well, I guess...’ replied Tommy a little skeptical to their idea. So off they went, Harriet carried Billy in a bowl she found, and Tommy followed behind, slowly of course.
It was a beautiful sunny day. The wind blew lightly and the air was fresh and smelled of wildflowers. It didn’t take long before Tommy and his friends met up with Lucy the Ladybug. She was perched on a flower watching the world pass before her.
Tommy approached her and smiled, “Hi Lucy! How are you today?”
Lucy shrugged her shoulders and just sat on the flower, even the beautiful day didn’t seem to lift Lucy’s spirits.
“What’s wrong, Lucy?” Harriet wondered.
“Nothing....” replied Lucy.
“Let us help you! Tommy, Bobby and I are on a mission, maybe we can help you too?” Harriet squatted next to Lucy’s flower.
“Well, I have a slight problem. I need to make it to the other side of the path, over to those clump of trees by the brook, but there’s something preventing me. Usually I have my other ladybug friends with me, but today they decided to head out without me.” Lucy said sadly.
“What’s preventing you?” Gurgled Bobby.
“My wings are to small for my body, I can’t fly for long distances like my friends can. But if I walk to the brook, I’m afraid to get lost. Can you help me?” Lucy looked up at her friends with hope in her eyes.
“You are in luck! Today we are conquering our fears! Let us help you!” Harriet was excited to help Lucy conquer her fear of getting lost.
Together they decided to work up a plan. Harriet was going to stand on the other side of the path, Tommy was going to stand a few feet behind her, and Bobby’s bowl would be a few feet from the clump of trees. Baby steps to make Lucy’s way to the brook, and that way if she got lost, her friends were there to help her.
With a lump in her throat, Lucy began her journey. She flew a little ways, hovering just above the middle of the path, and saw Harriet. She smiled and realized she was almost across the path and hadn’t gotten lost!
Her little wings were getting her tired, so she decided to walk. She reached Harriet’s enormous shadow on the path, and flew up in the air to see where she was headed next. She spotted Tommy and flew to him. It didn’t take her long before she was sitting on his shoulder. Just a little ways to go! She scanned around the meadow and spotted the trees. At this point Lucy began to relax, her anxiety of getting lost was almost gone.
She flew over and passed Bobby in his bowl. She found her friends and flew over to them. She made it! She was so overjoyed that she forgot that her little wings are getting her further and further than she thought was possible. And she wasn’t as tired as she normally was. She had the strength and endurance, and best of all, her friends to help her get to where she needed to be.
“Thank you guys! I wouldn’t have been able to do it without you!” beamed Lucy.
They all said goodbye and headed up the path. Along the way, they met up with Sally the Spider. How perfect it would be for Harriet to overcome her fear of spiders!
Sally was spinning a web between to plants. Making beautiful designs and the way the sun beamed off the web, it was so beautiful. She sang to herself softly as she spun. Not aware she had a few fans watching her.
“Why hello.” Sang Sally.
“H-i-i-i-I” Stammered Harriet.
Tommy cocked his head to the side and watched Sally for a moment. Suddenly he had an idea.
“Sally, can you help us with something?” Tommy asked
“Anything for you, my friends.” Sally’s voice was smooth and soft.
“Can you slowly make your way off the web and over to Harriet? She’s afraid of spiders, and she needs to conquer her fear.” Tommy let her know.
Poor Harriet was hiding behind Tommy, her knees were shaking, sweat forming on her forehead. She tugged at her ears and was breathing slowly out of her mouth. She looked like she was going to faint!
“Are you afraid of me Harriet?” Sally was able to calm Harriet with the sound of her voice.
“A little bit.” Harriet replied, her face flushed with embarrassment.
Without saying anything, Sally made her way off the web, she was humming loud enough for Harriet to hear. This seemed to relax Harriet. She was relaxing the closer Sally got. Pretty soon Sally was right by Harriet’s foot. Harriet glanced down and stared at Sally. She nodded her head, and Sally made her way up her foot. Harriet began to laugh. It was tickling her!
Sally sat on Harriet’s hand, still humming a sweet, soft tune. It was amazing the gift Sally had. Her voice seemed to put Harriet at ease, she didn’t feel so afraid of Sally and spiders anymore. For the afternoon, Sally and Harriet talked. Harriet learned how Sally made her webs and Sally told her the importance of the webs for her to catch her food. Spiders were useful after all!
Harriet promised Sally she would come around more. And Sally promised that she would sing a tune for Harriet until she no longer felt afraid.
Continuing along the path, the three friends nearly bumped into Clyde the Cheetah. He sat on the ground with his tail wrapped around his body. He seemed to be shaking.
“What’s wrong?” Harriet asked Clyde.
“I’m scared of the dark. I need to take a bath in the pond, but I don’t know where I am at.” Clyde was so sad.
Harriet looked at Clyde for a moment and had a great idea! “Why don’t you let us help you, Clyde! This will be a perfect time for Tommy to overcome his fear of the water at night!” She was so excited she was jumping up and down. The ground shook every time her feet hit the ground.
Tommy looked like he might faint. He knew this adventure today was all about conquering fears, and so far a few of his friends have overcome theirs. He just didn’t think it would be so quickly.
“What are you afraid of Tommy?” Clyde leaned down next to Tommy.
He slowly explained the fear of the water, and how Bobby was losing his friends, The Worms. Clyde nodded his head and snapped his fingers.
“I got it!” Clyde picked up Bobby’s fish bowl and told him about the time he saw some humans in the lake. They were hungry and in search of food so they launched a boat into the lake and carried into the boat with them these long poles. Clyde explained that these long poles had worms on the end hanging there calling for some names of the fish friends. He said that these humans would throw the worms in the water, spin a handle on the pole, and in a few seconds up popped the worm, sometimes with a friend with them. That had to be the reason why Bobby was making friends with worms and they zipped to the surface so fast.
This theory made perfect sense to Bobby. He seemed happy with an explanation after all. Now it was Tommy’s and Clyde’s turns to swallow their fear. So Clyde was afraid of the dark. He didn’t know his way to the pond so he could swim. Perhaps he should swim in the daytime, that way he didn’t have to be so afraid of the water, just until he is no longer afraid. Seemed like a nice idea to Clyde.
But how to overcome his fear of the dark? The best way to do that was to bring a light with him anytime he was out, and slowly day by day, not use it so much, so eventually he won’t need a light at all.
That seemed like a good idea to Clyde. So they found a lightening bug along the way to the pond to act as a light for Clyde. His name was Larry. And he felt like he was real useful to Clyde. Eventually they came across the pond, and Clyde was able to take a swim. The moon shone nice on the pond. It provided enough lighting that Clyde was no longer afraid.
Now it was Tommy’s turn. He couldn’t let his friends down by running away. Harriet placed Bobby back into the pond and Bobby promised to swim with Tommy through all the scary stuff.
“You can do it! Just see how helpful you were to the other’s today. That should be enough motivation to overcome this obstacle.” Harriet positioned her hand on Tommy’s shell.
With a big sigh, Tommy paddled into the lake. Bobby was right below him. Together they swam around the pond. Tommy would swim through logs, through the seaweed, under the lillypads, and all over the pond. Bobby was there the whole time.
It felt good to Tommy to have his friends with him. It felt even better to know that he wasn’t the only one out there that was afraid of things. And if you have friends beside you, they can help you with anything. Just don’t be afraid to ask.
Copyright Becky Cox, 2010
The author lives in Minnesota, USA.
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