22 Apr

Chick did not know ducks could be so sad.  First, the gaggle of giggling geese had arrived one breezy afternoon and they had not left the pond where all the ducks would lazily float.  Now the water splashed with goose gadabout and the honking pierced the quiet that use to be.  The geese gorged on bugs and gobbled water as Chick stood on the bank of the pond helpless to the greed of those grouchy geese.

On top of everything it was raining.  Had been for what ducks thought were days and the ground was cold and damp and Chick’s feathers were always wet.  She shivered and she shook but nothing dried the down she was beginning to shed.  Chick ducked into her new home, a battered and discarded mailbox the gopher had tired of carrying and left it at the pond.

There the rain tap tap tapped on the metal roof and in a better mood, she would have found it soothing.  Instead, she moped and moaned, staring forlornly at the hill where Badger and Badger’s tree lived.  Chick clucked and sighed, unable to express her sadness in any other way.

Badger had been in his hole again since the rain and the geese fell from the sky.   There were days when he would be sitting on a root at the base of the tree and he was animated and talkative and Chick felt the rays of his attention and affection.  Then he would be busy burrowing or chasing a squirrel from his hive of honey and he would barely grunt a hello.  Chick would sit in the grass and wonder if Badger still thought of her as he did on the sunny days.

After she had moved into her mailbox home, she had asked him to venture down the hill and visit her.  His mood darkened and he harrumphed his displeasure.

“I can’t leave my hole.”  Was his latest excuse.  “The way this works is you come visit me.”

“Friends have give and take.  Even if it makes you scared, you should try to come see my new house.  You should try to do things friends do.”

“Then find a friend who does those things.”  Badger had grumbled more than any geese could.

Chick had huffed away, for what felt like the hundredth time, but the next morning she was back at the tree sharing honey and trying to figure out what she meant to Badger.

All of this kept her very occupied until the geese garnered her attention.  Even in the rain that created puddles in the grass she had to float across, she made her way to Badger’s hole and descended into the dankness that was the world he lived in.

“You never knock.”  Badger groused.

“Friends shouldn’t have to.”  Chick fluffed her feathers at him and saw even in all his grouchy, he badger smiled.  “The ducks have been gabbling and we are leaving the pond.   The geese have made everyone miserable and grief stricken.  The new pond is too far to walk here every morning.”

Badger grunted.

“Come with me.”  Chick felt her throat all heart lumpy.  “There’s a tree there, and probably bees and it’s even prettier than this one.”

“You keep talking about leaving.  You’re always talking about other ponds and other meadows.”  She could feel Badger’s anger.  “I want to stay here.  I don’t like change and I don’t like friends who try to change me.”

Suddenly the hole seemed so much smaller and Chick’s heart seemed so much more broken.  “I thought we were best friends and always would be.  That means we try to change together so we stay like this forever.”

“Badgers don’t change for anyone.”

Chick felt the last piece of her heart shatter and splinter.  She wanted to stand there arguing with him as she had ever other time.  She wanted to remind him of the mornings when they ate honey and everything felt so perfect and they were so happy.  But standing there, seeing his cold badger eyes, she knew reminding him would not change anything.  He had to want those mornings again, and he no longer did.

With all the cheerlessness of the entire world resting on her shoulders, Chick walked away from the friend she had loved more than she even loved herself.  She waddled her way back to the duck pond where the mallards were haughtily discussing their impending move.  Chick turned to the hill where Badger would live without seeing her every day.  He didn’t care she was moving to another pond or even another world.

Chick toddled into her mailbox house and sat down on the flowers she had fashioned into a sweet smelling bed fit for even a swan.  Over the gossiping geese, she listened to the rain trop trop tropping onto the roof and felt the rain leak from her eyes.  Such a sad duck indeed.


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