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Tutzie the Iguana
Author's note: Class project; compared this to the Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. That was my inspiration. A simple typical ish love story turned simply different and fun!
For as long as she could remember, Tutzie had always been treated with respect. Her whole family, which was as big as the diameter of the Stonehenge in England, had grand hope for their youngsters because they were the new child bearers of the Argentine Tegu lizard society. The clan resided in Southern South America, where the climate was a temperate forest with fertile ground and a good amount of water. For centuries, so far back as to be unknown, the species had lived there and raised thousands of lizards each mating season. Tutzie learned of the many ancestral experiences, morals and surreal stories from her elders, who made the way of the Tegu life clear: there was only one way to do it, it was set in stone and there was no going about changing it.
Although they kept to themselves, they were aware of other lizard species living nearby. The Tegu lizards had many rules that needed to be followed, and one was that they were not to interact with the other lizards around. Tutzie never understood the reason for this, but she knew very well that it was against her laws, and vowed never to disobey any of her elders. She once heard a traditional Tegu story about a young lizard that was meandering through the forest by himself, something he should not have been doing in the first place, when he came upon the corpse of a dead lizard. It was unlike any lizard he had seen before, but he felt bad for the creature’s life so he began to call upon the Tegu spirit lord. Legend goes that the lord shunned the poor lizard from the Tegu clan forever because he was blessing an unknown deceased lizard. It is said that this young lizard died mysteriously a couple of days after the lord ‘spoke’ to him; no one knows how he was spoken to or how he passed away. All that Tutzie knew was that she could never go near an unknown species; she surely did not want to die young like the young male lizard.
As a young female lizard, Tutzie’s duty was to follow her mother around and learn to find her own food. The goal of the Tegu was to prepare the future generation for the troubles and skills needed to survive successfully in their homeland. To do this, every female was required to watch their mother’s every move – by shadowing them. Tutzie did not really like the idea, but it was better than staying home in the cave and cleaning up every morning, like her younger siblings did until they reached the age of two.
One typically normal day, Tutzie was shadowing her mother and collecting food for her siblings in a nearby hollow, large bush. She was almost five years old by now, and her mom trusted her to scavenge by herself. Thus doing so, Tutzie felt the freedom given and took advantage of it: she ran around and spun with excitement inside this enormous bush, attempting to catch her ever-too-fast tail.
What she did not notice was that by having as much fun as the young lizard was creating for herself, she slowly strayed away from the bush and into a meadow of daisies. She had never seen such beautiful and simple white flowers before. Tutzie was in a trance – some of them were bigger than her! She forgot all about her task of collecting food for her family, and entered a different world – one of her own creation and imagination, as youngsters often do. She imagined she was a lizard queen who ruled the entire meadow, and that she was collecting the biggest, most elegant and aromatic daisy for her king. He had been away fighting a war against the Walker's Tree Iguana clan, who had been attempting to seize control of the flat meadow for many centuries now.
Tutzie, as the queen, scampered between flowers, smelling all of them with joy and excitement. She perched on her two front legs and daintily leaned over to smell the prettiest flower she had seen thus far. This flower had a speck of black and red on the petals, making it stand out to Tutzie. As she leaned in to take in a strong whiff of the smell, her somewhat long nose touched the yellow pollen that was hidden inside. Unaware of what this was, she began to wonder if it was poisonous. Soon, she began to sneeze uncontrollably, falling from her two hind feet on to her back, twitching like her tail would if it were to fall off in fear.
Presently, a large shadow came upon Tutzie, who was still lying on her back with her eyes closed. She noticed the change in light, and slowly opened her eyes to see a dark figure standing over her, blocking the sun and the vast whiteness of all the daisies. She was normally not a scared lizard, but since she was still somewhat recovering from her pollen attack, she was more insecure than usual – and let out a long and harsh lizard scream that made the daisies in the meadow undulate slightly.
“Do not be afraid, I will not hurt you,” said the unfamiliar thing from above. “I was only walking in the meadow and I heard profound sneezing. I came to see if you were alright, for lizards should never be sneezing.” His voice was so gentle and relaxed that Tutzie stood up very slowly and stopped her loud screeching.
What she saw she could not believe. It was no lizard standing before her, but a big brown and spotted Iguana! At least she thought it was one; she had only ever heard legendary Iguana stories from her Tegu ancestors, so she could not accurately be sure.
“What are you?” she asked faintly. She did not want to sound mean; she only wanted the truth.
“Iguana Shining Tree. Jaspo is what I am called.” He now moved away so Tutzie could see the daisies, but also his face. He was beyond anything she had ever encountered in her young life. He was tall but so full of life. Looking closer, she realized that he was not spotted but actually had scales; small pointy scales that seemed to want to jet off his back at anytime. There were white specks on his forehead and lower face, and as he moved to let her pass, she noticed his fingers: they were thin, light brown and the longest length she had seen. In astonishment, she put her hands up to his and noticed how much smaller her hands were. But she also noticed something else: there was a kind of warmth between them, a connection that she had never felt. It made her entire body quiver with happiness.
As she looked up into Jaspo’s dark ember eyes, he was so calm and seemed so peaceful. He was smiling and looked extremely content. Whatever they were feeling, Tutzie knew she loved it. However long it took she did not know, but she did know that she had fallen immensely and completely in love with Jaspo the Iguana.
I wish the story could end there and the happiness could start flowing through one another, but there is more to the story. Tutzie made a plan to go out and ‘collect food’ everyday to see her secret lover in the meadow. She would stay out almost all day and bring back food just in time for supper. She apologized but continued making them wait. However, each time she brought new and exquisite foods (that she received from Jaspo) that were fascinating and delicious to her family, so they forgave her for coming home late.
She was living the best moments of her life, and was always in a wonderful mood. When her mother would ask why she was so content, Tutzie stumbled over her tongue and gave a very vague answer. Tutzie was so in love, but part of her was also frightened to death: she was keeping a secret from her family that she knew was not okay. She knew she was going against the Tegu code of laws.
Tutzie’s mother, although not the smartest egg in the group, was beginning to suspect something was going on with her daughter, for she came home later and later each subsequent day. She desperately tried to pull information out of Tutzie, but she had no luck with that. She had a motherly hunch, and it was not a good hunch.
One early morning she decided to follow Tutzie out on her daily mission to find the secret hidden behind her strange recent attitude and mood. Tutzie, too happy and distracted by love, did not hear her mother crawl out of the home from the secret passageway, and thus set on her usual path through the big hollow bush. Tutzie began dancing with her tail and her mother was almost baffled – was this what her daughter did for hours on end each day? But no, this was not the answer. Little did the mama lizard know that the answer lay just beyond the bush.
In fact, shortly after the dancing subsided, Tutzie’s mom watched as Tutzie embraced arms and hands with an unknown creature that was waiting for her behind the bush. Horrified down to her soul, she started to turn away from the horrible sight but out of the corner of her eye stopped: Tutzie and the big brown thing were now locking lips, kissing! This gave her mother such a start that she let out the loudest scream Jaspo and Tutzie had ever witnessed.
They couple ran over to see what had happened, and with a realization like a punch to the gut, Tutzie saw her mom, who had fainted after screaming, now lying on the ground by the bush. Tutzie was confused but also sad. Was her mother dead? Why was she here? It must have been her that screamed, she thought.
“It’s my mom! Jaspo, what are we going to do? Is she dead? She can’t be dead!” Tutzie had so much fear she could hardly speak straight, but Jaspo pulled her in to a tight clasp and they waited together.
They did not need to wait long. Tutzie’s mother came around within five minutes, although that time seemed to go by ever so slowly to Tutzie and Jaspo. As soon as she saw an eye flinch, Tutzie was on her knees interrogating her mother. She soon found out why she was there, and before Tutzie could say anything else, her mother said:
“I am telling your father about this! Don’t bother bringing any food tonight, you sure as hell won’t be eating it!” with that, she stormed off and slithered through the bush again, yelling and talking to herself all the way home. Alone at last, Tutzie cried and cried into the arms of her only loved one: Jaspo. He did not quite understand but held her for what seemed like forever; he hoped it would be forever.
Tutzie could not escape her reality forever; she had to go face home. She was not aware of what crime she had committed, but she had a hunch that her parents would tell her that she did commit a crime, even though she thought she had done nothing wrong. With a struggle to let go of Jaspo, she asked him to wish her luck as she ventured back through the bush to face her fate.
“I don’t know when I shall see you again, but please do not forget me, handsome Iguana. You have made me so happy, and whatever happens, I will never forget about you. I love you.” They kissed one last time and then parted ways. Jaspo would be in the same spot the next day and the next, hoping to see his princess, but fearing that he would not.
As she expected, the whole clan found out about her secret, and the elders shunned Tutzie from the community. Her father almost considered ending her life, threatening her by telling her that the spirit lord would come and kill her, just like he did the young male lizard in the legend. Her mom however, did not want her to leave, and so she forced her to do manual labor within the house.
This went on for several years. Each day Tutzie would get up and ruminate about Jaspo and their meadow dances. She had never felt so alone before, and hated the feeling. She wondered if he was feeling the same, and if he still loved her. Little did she know that Jaspo was still at the meadow clearing by the daisies, waiting for his princess who was stuck in her house for eternity.
Tutzie was getting to be past her childbearing years, and this worried her mother. However, according to Tegu rule, Tutzie was not allowed to have children because of the misdeed she had performed. The entire society now referred to Tutzie as the ‘lost one’ because they thought that she had lost her way in the Tegu tradition of having children with a fellow Tegu lizard. They were all eternally mad at her for falling in love with another species. Tutzie tried to explain to her mom that she loved Jaspo with all of her heart, and she did not want to follow Tegu tradition, but because her mom was hearing such nonsense, she kicked her out of the house and told her to never come back.
Tutzie had dreams, a life planned out for her when she was older. Now, everything seemed to be gone; it had slipped away and there was nothing she could do about it. Walking alone in the city, everyone stared at her like she was a freak, and a bad one at that. No one interacted with her, but just watched as she suffered. She was the laughing stock of the crowd, of the people she used to call her friends. She no longer had any of those. She had no one. Some small child lizards even ran away when they saw her approaching. There seemed to be a clear circle around her that one dared to enter.
She wished that Jaspo could be with her, that she could start a family with him and her people would be there to support her. She wished that she could grow old with him, spend forever with him just like they promised to each other. Tutzie did not understand why species had to live apart; she never liked that rule but also never imagined herself to be the one to break it. She wondered where Jaspo was now; it had surely been ten years if not more since he had last held her. Tutzie would do anything to feel the way she did ten years past.
“Why am I dealing with this pain from my people? They do not accept me like Jaspo did; they do not deserve me or care for me, why am I still here?” thought Tutzie. She began answering these questions in her head, and she could see a light bulb in the corner of her mind beginning to get brighter and brighter.
Suddenly, as if someone had lit her tail on fire, Tutzie sped around and told her legs to take her to the clearing in the meadow. She ran and ran, panting and slithering through branches and flowers. At last she came to the meadow. It looked exactly the same, and she felt as if she was a teenage lizard still. There was one big flower with a large dark brown shadow by the roots, and as Tutzie looked closer, her heart began beating like never before. The shadow was Jaspo, hiding from the sun under their daisy flower.
She did not know what to say, all she could do was walk slowly to where Jaspo lay sleeping. As she got closer she saw that his belly was much bigger; he had gained quite some weight and also a few more wrinkles. She stepped on a dry leave and it made a startling noise that scared her and Jaspo: he woke up and immediately turned his head to the sound, and then stared. He stared at Tutzie for a long time; hours, maybe. He slowly got up and reached her hand, and with a swift movement, picked her up and spun her around, hollering to the clear blue sky above. He was old from waiting for her, but never gave up on true love. They rejoiced to be together again at last, happy that both their hearts waited and found each other once again.
That night, she had a dream. In her dream, the Tegu society was on her side; they had accepted her for falling in love with an iguana. Tutzie was walking in the city, glowing like an angel and smiling from sea to shining sea. Everybody was greeting her with love and respect. Her parents and siblings ran forward and kissed her; her mother and father smiled with support and encouragement. They were her friends, and she theirs. Lizards were beaming at her, wagging their tails, thumping and embracing her. Tutzie felt the way she did ten years ago: happy, relaxed, peaceful and in love. She looked to her side and down at her hand: it was intertwined with a pair of long brown fingers.