Monday, February 22, 2010

Lucky Duckies

Despite being part of the funfair, it was not a fun event for the ducks. They had suffered the screwing in of hooks to their heads that morning, the pond was far too small them all and they had bobbed about desperately all day hoping to be rescued by a merciful human with a hook on the end of a stick.

Very few ducks got the chance to see the hook for themselves; most ended up on the side of a bath or worse, being flung about down a rushing stream for some rural annual charity duck race. In direct contrast to the uplifting stories of the hook, the stories about duck races were full of calamities and terrible indignities. Survivors recounted, in hushed, traumatised tones, moments of sheer terror and horror, tangled inescapably in weeds and rubbish, hemmed in by discarded condoms and crisp packets and unable to float away to the finish line.

The ducks tried to look as perky as possible in the narrow urn, trying to be the one the hook went for. No duck could confirm what happened to those who got hooked, but it was the pinnacle of a duck's career to be hoisted out of the water, lifted high and dripping to some mystical afterlife of bubble baths and jacuzzis. Each one in the urn prayed that she would be next to be hooked out, yearning for that new and dazzling life beyond the cramped and undignified vessel. However, the day was coming to a close and the remaining ducks were sadly resigning themselves to not being hooked out.

As the last customers rolled up their sleeves and prepared to have a go at hooking a duck, the ducks that got out quietly wept in their sodden black bin liner behind the neatly stacked, suspiciously new plastic crates from the van. They had longed and longed to be hooked out, to be plucked out of the water with cries of delight and deposited into the spectacular afterlife each duck imagined for herself. They wept for themselves, lying crushed and heaped in an undignified pile, in the wet plastic darkness. They wept for their friends still in the urn, still pleading with Fate for an escape via the beloved hook. They wept for their inability to tell them: stay in the water! Avoid the hook! We're in the black bin liner and we're not coming out again! The crates - the crates are full of new ducks!

They sobbed gently together in the bin bag, making room when another duck landed among them, still dripping, still exultant, still unaware that the hook was not their blessing of salvation but the tool of their undoing. They would find out soon enough, and the broken ducks in the bag let them discover the awful truth on their own. Meanwhile, the new ducks were excitedly waiting for the hooks to be screwed into their heads, their shiny yellow faces gleaming with the pride and optimism of box fresh bath accessories.

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