The Ever Part of Always: Keely Tucker's First Adventure

The Ever Part of Always: Keely Tucker's First Adventure

by Toby K. Davis


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Ten-year-old Keely Rosalie Tucker is a modern-day knight with no armor. Constantly bullied by a neighbor boy, Keely struggles to find her place in the world in which she is comforted only by the stories her Gramms has told her about enchanted, faraway places, where unicorns, fairies, and angels protect children from life's everyday pains and dangers. Now all Keely has to do is figure out how to call them to help her.

Everything changes when her beloved Gramms suddenly dies and gifts Keely with her aging horse, Mariah-setting the stage for an adventure. Keely discovers that Mariah can talk, and she soon finds her way to a hidden valley over the moon and beyond rainbows where monsters and dragons disturb and invade the peace of mind. Now she must learn to believe in herself and develop her secret powers in order to deliver a miracle before it is too late.

In this delightful and charming fantasy tale, a little girl learns to summon her courage and rely on her imagination as she opens her heart and mind to the sounds of the possible in a last-ditch effort to save a friend.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781469745916
Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
Publication date: 02/02/2012
Pages: 193
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 9 - 11 Years

Read an Excerpt

The Ever Part of Always

Keely Tucker's First Adventure
By Toby K. Davis

iUniverse, Inc.

Copyright © 2012 Toby K. Davis
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4697-4591-6

Chapter One


The gold dust trickled in a slow, steady stream through the cupped, gritty palm of Keely Rosalie Tucker. Little globs stuck in the corners of her bent knuckles as she tried to slip the precious glitter into the silver mesh bag, a retired purse of her grandmother's, which Keely had unretired from the Goodwill sack. Keely's forehead was streaked with sweat and yellow-flecked sand. Gathering gold dust was serious business that demanded total concentration, and timing was crucial. It had to be completed before the sun reached the highest point in the sky. She must remember and utter the words exactly as her grandmother taught her nearly five years ago, on her fifth birthday. Only the wind could catch the whispers of the sounds and whistle them far away to that place no one has ever been, where mists are hung with rainbows and trees are ribboned with stars. There, unicorns breathe purple air, nibble gently on the glittery fruit, and line clouds with slivers of their laughter—awaiting the distant call of a child.

"What on earth do you think you're doing? If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times: change your clothes before you start playing out here in this dirt pile. Get in the house and do it right now. One! Two!" Keely didn't want her mom to get to three, which meant automatic grounding and even louder yelling.

"I'm going. I'm going." The tears slipped silently inside Keely's eyes. The moment was gone again. Would it ever be right? Her mom would never understand. How could she when Keely was not sure she understood it herself?

Keely stood and brushed off the precious sand from her favorite outfit—dark indigo, boot-cut jeans, and a stripy red and white T-shirt, layered with last year's faded blue, double-pocketed, western shirt—sleeves rolled up. Her gray and white skinny striped socks, reserved for good days, peeked out at the ankles from deep purple, laceless, "look-alike" Converse sneakers. All of the pieces, past birthday gifts from her grandmother, were bought on final clearance at Wal-Mart or Target stores in Memphis. However, Keely was the one who put the outfits together to match her mood. Her bangs nearly covered her brows, and she took a moment to flip back her self-made, slightly lopsided, double ponytails—the one on the left side riding higher above her ear than the right—unveiling the deep emerald eyes flashing with resignation. Small clumps of mahogany hair escaped the red scrunchies, scrunched too tightly against her head.

As she turned to walk toward her house, she realized she had forgotten her gold dust bag and returned to fetch it from the other side of the dirt pile. A loud, familiar voice challenged her, "Hey, dimwit! Yeah, I'm talkin' to you. Get over here and scrape the mud off my bike. You know what I'll do if you don't do it now. Gads, I can hardly believe that I'm allowing such a loser like you to touch my bike. You're too stupid to realize the special honor I'm giving you, but my daddy always told me to be kind to dumb animals, and that's what I'm doing. You know, they should call you Dum-dum Tucker, or better yet, Dumbo, cause you're so slow and so dumb. Dumbo, Dumbo, D-u-m-b-o, Dumbo is your name-o," sang Darrell. "Don't try to use grass either. Polish the fenders with your shirt."

Darrell was the biggest kid in the fourth grade and Bully was his middle name. He teased kids, trying to make them cry; stole cookies and puddings from lunch boxes; and twisted arms, giving out "rope burns" as presents if any kid told the teachers. Darrell preyed on the weaker ones, those who were afraid of him and never fought back. Unfortunately, he was Keely's neighbor and lived four houses down the alley from her. Harassing and teasing her were Darrell's main hobbies, and he was constantly following her so he could yell mean things and try to make her cry.

At the moment, Keely stood in no man's land, as Gramps used to call that space where you never wanted to be—too far from the house to make it, even in a dead run, and out of earshot to call for her mom's help. She turned toward Darrell, a few steps away. There was no escape.

Keely's inaudible sigh joined the tears within the secret pool in her heart, where she tried to store all of the bad things. She heard her own heart pounding with fear. "I'll do it, Darrell." She slowly approached the big, black bike with a bolted-on metal strip to replace a broken pedal and fading decals of flames curling across the fenders. She longed to tell him to take back the words, but Darrell had threatened her before, and she knew he would do it again if he were disobeyed. Her grandmother, Gramms to Keely, taught her this trick of sliding bad words into a bottomless pool deep within herself, drowning their pain, but it didn't always work, and this was one of those times when she wasn't succeeding. The pain kept rippling, boiling on top of the bubbles, refusing to sink, like other times when her mom lashed out at her with angry words or when her teacher put her in the punishment, time-out corner for four hours for missing all of the spelling words. As she recalled those incidents, her chin trembled ever so slightly and a sigh escaped, and with it, a single tear.

Darrell's reaction was immediate. With a bounding leap, he was on her, beating the ground around her with the intricately carved, driftwood cane he always carried, letting it land just in front of her forearms with every third whack to scare her even more. Keely backed away from the stick. She was more afraid of the cane than Darrell, as it appeared to have dragons' heads and devils engraved by the sea, their voices bruising her with each stroke. "You're nothing! You're worthless! You're stupid!"

Darrell's own words were dim ricochets of ones she had heard before—"I saw that tear. I'll give you something to cry about."

And he did. The words left welts on her arms, even though the stick never touched her.

After Darrell finally left, Keely attempted to open the battered, repeatedly mended kitchen screen door and slip in the back door. She wanted to shuffle unnoticed by the kitchen, where her mom sat sorting the bills into the pay-now and pay-later piles, with the pay-later pile even higher than normal this month. Keely self-consciously yanked on the rolled-up sleeves of her layered shirt, trying to stretch them into long ones to cover the imaginary dragon and devil bites, and wiped away her tears of fright with her fist. Her mom had enough problems but could never resist the urge to turn Keely's problems into Keely's fault. This was no exception.

"Well, Keely, what happened to you? Have you been crying? Did that nasty neighbor kid threaten you again? I saw him earlier hanging around the alley on his bike and told him to keep out of our yard. I thought I told you to stay out of Darrell's way so he couldn't tease you. When will you ever learn to leave bullies like him alone and keep your mouth shut so he won't use that as an excuse to bother you? I've talked to his mom and tried to get her to control him, but that hasn't worked, so it's up to you. Run away. Don't let him bully you."


"Don't 'but' me, Missy," her mom continued. "And don't come sniffling to me when you don't do what you're told and bring this stuff on yourself. Get cleaned up and fix us some lunch. Get out the Jim Beam too; a fresh drink will help me concentrate on getting these bills paid." Jim Beam also helped her get through the long, lonely nights when Keely's dad was on the road on one of those interminable, generic business trips that could stretch into weeks. Keely never knew exactly where or why her dad traveled, but the when was obvious. Bottles of "Jim," Kentucky's finest, yet one of the cheapest bourbon whiskeys, always appeared when he disappeared. The problem was that Jim often unleashed her mom's tongue and left Keely with word volcanoes to drown in her secret pool.

Keely changed clothes first and tiptoed to the kitchen, keeping her eyes down, her shoulders hunched over, and her stomach clenched in as tightly as possible, trying to vanish. She prepared lunch on the Formica-topped table, cracking, yellowed with age and stains of dinners past—the pattern of stardust, deglittered, destarred forever, rubbed invisible with Clorox sprays. Nearly the same model stood in kitchens of Keely's friends, and it, along with the others, had seen better days, as her dad used to say. Keely slathered some canned tuna fish and mayonnaise on the slightly stale wheat bread. Next, she filled up a tumbler with ice, carefully placed Jim on the table beside her mom, stuffed her own sandwich in her knapsack, and quietly edged out the back door. She put her index finger in the screen to catch it before it clattered against the doorframe, hoping to conceal her departure.

And she did.

Chapter Two

Gramms's Mantra

Keely breathed deeply, threw her head back, and drank in the blueness of the sky, swallowing the darkness till another day. She raced across the street, arms outstretched, flying down the hill to her special place in the slightly overgrown, neglected-for-lack- of-funds neighborhood park. Her grandfather, just Gramps to Keely, said the city's money always ran out before it reached their part of town, whether it was for schools, hospitals, parks, or streets. Keely's mom told her it was this lack-of-funds disease that killed her grandfather, not the cancer. Her eyes slid without stopping over the piles of uncollected litter, broken glass, and paint-peeling park benches and rested on a circle of trees. Upon seeing her four closest friends, she announced her arrival with a joyous whoop.

"I'm here at last. Yahoo!" She grabbed Shorty's arm and hugged it close as she swung back and forth; giggles of joy bubbled out, crinkling her eyes and tips of her lips, until she let go and collapsed on the ground in a pile of leftover leaves. Snuggling down, she began moving her arms vigorously in a peacocking motion, and her legs copycatted the energy. "Leaf Angels, I command thee to rise and fly to the hidden places, find the unicorn and plead my case. I feel there is so little time before—time before what, I don't know, but it's creeping up my neck, shivering my ears. Something awful is going to happen." She jumped up and embraced each of her other friends, squeezing them with all her might; two were white birch trees like Shorty, and one was a humongous weeping willow named Will. As she turned to face Will, she failed to see the "angeled" outline of leaves carried off by the wind, toward the sun and what lie beyond.

Shorty, Lefty, Will, and Chartreudy, named for her blistering, birch skin, which was more chartreuse than white, had been Keely's friends since her very first visit to the park with her grandmother seven years ago. Gramms told Keely that you always called the trees by people names to show them you actually were their friends. Keely picked their names that day, and since she had just learned the color chartreuse in preschool, it made sense to use her new vocabulary. It was appropriate context, according to her grandmother. Shorty, of course, was the shortest tree, and Lefty had only one left-sided branch that was low enough for Keely to reach.

One can count on tree friends, who always will be there for you, offering real support when you're sagging inside. They don't yell or push you away if you're ugly or sad or have been bad. But most of all, they're good listeners and hold what you say in confidence. They don't blabber and, in fact, held hundreds of Keely's secrets. Now, as often before, she climbed to the top of Will's shoulder, leaned her head upon him, unclenched her stomach, and whispered the pain words with the inner tears released on the slender leaves, darkening their green, adding to their weep. At that moment, she stood up like a ramrod—Gramps always said to stand ramrod straight, and even though she didn't know what that meant, she imagined she was standing this way—in the top boughs of Will's embrace. Tilting her head back, she brushed the light with her fingertips, as always, trying to print the untouchable rainbows skirting the clouds after a rain. Her pain released; she was ready for whatever the world had to offer her that day. Inhaling deeply of the sky's blue, she was overwhelmed with an all-at-once tiredness that ached her bones. Keely decided to rest for just a moment, curled herself up like a kitten cuddling stray branches against her cheek, and fell asleep.

Most of her other neighborhood friends were younger, aged three to seven. They cherished her unending, imaginative stories, and each and every one was a fervent believer that Keely had secret powers, including the power to fly. She told them that whenever they felt the soundless sound of leaves in the trees, it really was her fanning them as she flew by. And if they looked closely at the leaves, they would see her fan and feel its breath. However, she had mastered flying only at twilight, the one hour of rose-tinted light, neither quite day nor yet night. If one ventured out in the neighborhood at this witching hour, there usually were two or three kids testing their own wings to see if they had developed this power. Keely spun the tales for the kids and herself, but she was the only one who knew the truth, that she couldn't fly—not yet. She was unprepared to admit defeat and swore to herself to never cease searching for the secret.

Her grandmother, with whom she had always had a bond, a special trust, instilled in Keely a belief in magic. For as long as Keely could remember, Gramms crammed her mind with stories about enchanted, faraway places where unicorns, fairies, and angels breathed, and the stronger one believed in them, the greater would be their power. Gramms said they would protect you, shield you from life's everyday pains, and save you from danger. But most important, they would always come to the aid of a child in need; one just had to know how to call them. Keely's tattered copies of Peter Pan and The Wizard of Oz, confirmed her faith in fairy dust and ruby slippers. It sounded to Keely like Gramms's tales were based on personal experience—the hints were there—but she didn't know if the stories were true, partially based on facts, or pure fantasy. Keely hoped they were true and often respun Gramms's yarns to reassure herself. She created a place in her mind, a retreat in which to crawl and hide, until the moments of distress passed.

Gramms told Keely over and over again that she was unique; her differences made her feel things that others could not feel, enabling Keely to sense things others refused to acknowledge. Gramms liked to call it Keely's "inkle sense," the source for hunches, hints, and inklings. Keely couldn't name the normal five senses but often shivered with shadows of things to come that no one else could hear, see, or feel. Most of these times, she just shrugged off the goose bumps, ignoring the whispers and the fingered wind's whistling words. She refused to listen, to understand, or to believe in her ability. Keely never knew that Gramms had 'inkle sense' awareness too, believed in it, and made use of it from time to time to send people suggestions, as well as for other things. Gramms, aware of all the family's secrets, knew the sense was inherited from her own "Gramms," who was given the inkle gift from her Gramms and so on. It was given only to the women and skipped every other generation. Keely's mom didn't have this ability and scoffed at Gramms whenever anything related to being aware of pending events or using mind-thoughts to alter behavior were mentioned, so Gramms chose not to talk about it openly with the family. Gramms planned to help Keely fully develop her inkle powers when she turned twelve, as the teenage years, when one's body and mind go through all kinds of growing pains, were the most potent. Gramms was not worried, knowing that Keely's time had not yet come.


Excerpted from The Ever Part of Always by Toby K. Davis Copyright © 2012 by Toby K. Davis. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents


Chapter 1. Sticks....................1
Chapter 2. Gramms's Mantra....................7
Chapter 3. The Will....................14
Chapter 4. Meet Mariah....................21
Chapter 5. Miracles....................28
Chapter 6. Time Suckers....................33
Chapter 7. Believe....................38
Chapter 8. Ðoosie Surprise....................48
Chapter 9. Flying Lessons....................54
Chapter 10. Uh-Oh....................59
Chapter 11. Night of Lesses: Windless-Moonless-Starless....................68
Chapter 12. Midnight Brew....................78
Chapter 13. First Clues....................82
Chapter 14. River of Rainbows....................88
Chapter 15. Ðreamwisher....................95
Chapter 16. Magic Carpet....................107
Chapter 17. Battle Under the Rainbow....................116
Chapter 18. Trapped....................124
Chapter 19. Unicorn Rescue....................133
Chapter 20. Sands of Time....................142
Chapter 21. Ðreamcatchers....................144
Chapter 22. Wishes Ðo Come True....................156
Chapter 23. The Ever Part of Always....................160
Chapter 24. Pool of Hopes and Ðreams....................166
Chapter 25. Forgotten Flute—Lost Notes Found....................177
Chapter 26. Journey Home....................179
Chapter 27. Reunion....................183
Chapter 28. Mail....................192

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