Published in an anthology of short fiction by Writing on the Wall, Ducks follows the tale of little Inia, a member of another River Folk clan, as she chases after some ducks. Things aren’t all what they seem, however.
Here’s a sample:
“Don’t stray too far, Inia!” her mother called from the cook fire. “Dinner will be ready soon and pa will be back from hunting.”
“Okay ma!” Inia shouted back, gaze fixed on the golden duck, flecked with brown, paddling downriver with her cheeping yellow ducklings in tow. The smell of her mother’s broth made her stomach grumble, but seeing ducks put that to the back of her mind. Ever since her father had brought home an injured mallard a few years before her heart soared whenever she saw one. And never had she seen ducklings. Her cheeks ached from smiling at the sight.
The family of ducks rippled the reflection of the cerulean sky as the mother led her young to a cluster of reeds. She spun around to check on them, grunting softly. Birds called from the emerald forests smothering both banks: cackling magpies, whistling blackbirds, even the tap of a woodpecker.
They swam on around a bend in the river, heading for the shelter of an overhanging willow with finger-like roots reaching out into the water. Wisteria, white as bone, hung from its branches, fallen leaves dancing in the current below. Inia skipped toward it too, catching the scent of the crimson cardinal flowers growing along the bank. They reminded her of Nana. “My little flowers” she used to call Inia and her siblings.
A stout root wound over the heads of the flock. With arms outstretched for balance she began to walk along it. The lichen-covered surface felt slick underfoot. Pollen tickled her nose as she ducked underneath the wisteria and petals became entangled in her hazelnut hair. She nearly fell fighting the urge to sneeze, but made it to the end and sat down, legs dangling over the ducklings. Unafraid, they swam toward her, circling her feet, trying to jump with miniature wings. Inia giggled, and the mother grunted as if laughing too.
After a few minutes of play, mother duck herded her young and led them beyond the willow. Inia spun around, watching them go. Then she saw it.
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Or if you’d prefer listening to the story, you can check out this audiobook version by Tall Tale TV. If you’d like a .mp3 version, drop me an email.