Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Challenge 4: Feed the birds

There’s a girl, sitting under the willow tree, with a plastic bag of dried up old bread getting wet on the leaf litter and soil next to her. For that matter, she’s getting wet too.

That girl is me. I wonder where the ducks are. This time of year? There are meant to be ducks everywhere. Duck shooting season, etcetera, etcetera, I know. But they haven’t killed all the ducks. They can’t’ve.

She makes a pretty sad sight, in the bright sunshine with hands clasped around knees and that forlorn look as her eyes search the river. Is that a hint of tears?
Normally, I wouldn’t cry about ducks. It’s just not been a good day, and the ducks are always here. I spend an afternoon here with the ducks every week. My family can be counted on to be that careless with their food supplies. When they haven’t been, I sneak a few slices of the fresh loaf away, hoping no one will notice.

Sometimes I take the good stuff anyway, because I feel sorry for the ducks.

She’s crying now. Leaning against the bug-laden tree trunk. Burying her face in her knees.

I’m hoping like hell no one will walk past and notice. Or maybe I'm hoping they'll come and ask what's wrong.

I know there’s a construction site further upstream. Maybe the ducks couldn’t handle it. Maybe they’re all lying there poisoned by construction effluent. What a horrific sight that would be!

Don’t go to look.

I can’t. It’s not far, but it’s on the other side of the park, and there are lots of trees, and I’ve been warned about walking through lots of trees! There’s a fundamental rule about not walking through trees that all girls get taught. It’s the same as the one about not going out in the dark and not getting into strangers’ cars and not wearing short skirts, though I suspect the latter was only fundamental in my family.

I would like to see where the ducks are, though.

She gets up and wanders further into the park. I want to tell her not to. I know what happens when a girl wanders around in there by herself. But he can’t be in there. Surely he can’t, because I’m already dead and the ducks have already gone.
But she comes running back again. Running back so fast she scares the ducks away, only where did the ducks come from? They were scared away last time. I don’t know how they keep coming back. I never see them come back. She doesn’t see them either, she just sits down and dies and I wake up again with blood on my skirt getting the bread bag soaked and the ducks are gone. Sometimes I remember, and sometimes I don’t. I still don’t know how it started. But first I have my cry, and then I know I've got to go and look for the ducks.

The bag gets a little bloodier and the bread gets a little drier every time.


Word count: 475

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