Friday Fictioneers: The Savvy Traveler

“Yuck! You’re not going to eat that, are you, Brad?”

“Brenda, when you travel to another country, you must immerse yourself into their culture.  Besides, look — there are only a couple of these left.  They must be popular.”

Using chopsticks, Brad plopped a yellow, frothy, gelatinous mass onto his plate and walked back to their table.  In one scoop he shoved it into his mouth and grimaced slightly.

“Delicious!”

A commotion erupted from behind the counter and the kitchen’s owner shouted in Chinese.

“What’s all that about, Brenda?”

“Oh, his son left some rare, poisonous tree slugs on the counter and one of them is missing.”

Brad gulped.

Duckly Takes a Dip

Duckly Takes a Dip

Word count:  1096

A children’s story by

Michael Molony

 

Duckly Takes a Dip

 

There once lived a family of ducks on a quiet little pond in the middle of just about anywhere.  Late one afternoon, just before dinnertime, Papa Duck decided to give his ducklings their first swimming lesson.

“Today we will learn to paddle to the other side of the pond,” he said. “Is everyone ready?”

“Ready!” they all chimed.

“Okay, everyone, into the water!” bellowed Papa Duck.

One by one each of the little yellow ducklings plopped into the pond.  Papa Duck counted each duckling as they gathered around.

“One, two, three, four … wait a minute. Where’s Duckly?”

“He’s still on the edge of the pond, over there. See?” one little duckling tattled.

Papa Duck groaned, “Let’s go, Duckly! What’s taking you so long?”

“Oh, nothing. I’ll just sit here and watch. It’s okay. Go ahead without me,” Duckly said.

Papa Duck would have none of that. “DUCKLY!” he shouted.  “Get in the water, right now!”

Duckly stuck his toe in the water and shivered. “Oh, Papa Duck,” he said, “it’s much too cold to go swimming today.  I’m fine here, but thanks anyway.”

“Too cold!? You’re a duck!  It’s never too cold to go swimming. Now get your duck butt in here!”

“No, really, I’m fine.  Don’t worry.  Just let me know when it’s time for dinner.”

Papa Duck took a deep breath. “There won’t be any dinner until everyone has had their swimming lesson, and that means you, too, Duckly.”

“C’mon, Duckly, we’re hungry.  Please get in,” the others begged.

Just then one of Duckly’s brothers snuck up behind him and bumped him into the water.

Yiiieeeeee! Cold! Cold! Cold!”  Duckly screeched as he tried to paddle to the shore.

“Oh, no you don’t, mister,” said Papa Duck, pulling him back into the water by his tail feathers.  Then Papa Duck lowered his voice.  “You don’t want to sit there and have a wolf come by and eat you, do you?”

“A wolf? What’s a wolf?” Duckly asked.

“Yeah, what’s a wolf?  Tell us what a wolf is, Papa Duck,” said the others.

“A wolf is a mean critter that can eat little ducklings in one bite,” Papa Duck replied.

The eyes of all the little ducklings widened.

“But a wolf can’t swim like a duck,” continued Papa Duck, “and that’s why I’m teaching you now.”

“Oh…” The little ducklings seemed to understand.

“Now can we begin our lesson?” Papa Duck asked.

“Oh, please, we’re all very hungry.  Let’s get started!” they said.

“Good.  First we’ll swim to the other side of the pond.  Is everyone ready?”

“Ready, Papa Duck!” they chimed.

“Okay.  Paddle…Paddle…Paddle, paddle, paddle.  Paddle…Paddle…Paddle, paddle, paddle,” he chanted as the ducklings paddled along to the other side.  “Good job, ducklings!  Now we’ll go back.”

“Hey? Where’s Duckly?” one duckling asked.

Everyone looked around and saw Duckly taking his sweet time in the middle of the pond, humming to himself and gazing at the clouds, just swimming in circles.

DUCKLY!” Papa Duck roared.

“Oh… oh, my. Yes, Papa Duck?” Duckly replied, startled and confused.

“Duckly, we’re hungry and you’re making us late for dinner. Hurry up!” the other ducklings pleaded.

Duckly finally met up with them.  “Sorry, guys. I was swimming as fast as I could. I guess I’m just not a good swimmer like the rest of you.”

Papa Duck shook his head. “Now that we’re all here, let’s swim home and get some dinner.  Is everyone ready?”

“Ready!” the ducklings chimed again.

“Okay.  Paddle…Paddle…Paddle, paddle, paddle. Paddle…Paddle… Paddle, paddle, paddle.”

The ducklings began to swim home.  That is, everyone except Duckly.  As hard as he tried, he couldn’t move. He seemed to have gotten his foot tangled in some weeds under the water near the edge of the pond.

At that moment, a strange looking creature crawled slowly from behind the brush. Duckly had never seen a wolf before, but he was certain this guy was a wolf, all right.

“Well, hello there, my little duckling friend.  How are you today?” the creature hissed.

Duckly wasn’t sure what to do.  He didn’t want the wolf to see he was stuck in the weeds.  “Oh, I’m fine,” he said.  “Quite fine, actually.  Just sitting here taking a little rest and enjoying the fresh air. Thank you for asking. I’m not stuck or anything like that.  No, no.  I’m definitely not stuck.”

“Are you sure you’re not tangled in the weeds?  I can help you.”

“Me? Tangled? Oh, no, no, no.” Duckly laughed nervously.  “But thanks anyway. Just taking a little break. You’re more than welcome to go about your business.”

The wolf crept closer to Duckly.

“Oh, please let me help you,” he said.  “I can grab your little head with my teeth and gently pluck you from the water.  Then you can be on your way with your family.”

Duckly waved his tiny wing in front of his nose.

“Whew! You got some pretty stinky breath there.  Have you been eating onions or something?”

This made the wolf very, very mad.  His eyes blazed and he showed his sharp yellowed teeth.  “The only thing I’m going to eat today is duckling!”

Then the wolf opened his mouth widely.  Just as he was ready to chomp down, Duckly somehow freed himself from the weeds and shot out across the water faster than any duck had ever swum.

“WOW! What was that, Papa Duck?” one duckling exclaimed as a yellow streak flew past them, kicking water high into the air.

“Was that Super Duck?” asked another duckling.

“I’m not sure,” Papa Duck said, scratching his head, “but I think that was your brother Duckly.”

“Where’d he learn to swim like that, Papa Duck?” another duckling asked.

“Um, well, I guess he finally caught on,” Papa Duck grumbled.

“I think he can even swim faster than you, Papa Duck,” the first duckling said, “I never saw you swim that fast.  I mean he was really, really…”

“Okay, okay,” Papa Duck interrupted, a bit embarrassed.  “Enough chatter.  Let’s go home and have some dinner.”

As Papa Duck and the ducklings approached home, who do you think was waiting for them?

“It’s Duckly!” they all exclaimed.

”C’mon, slowpokes!” Duckly cried.  “I’m hungry!”

“Duckly, you’re the fastest duck ever.  Can you teach me to swim like that?” asked the littlest duckling.

“Well, sure,” Duckly replied.  “If you think you can keep up with me.”

They all laughed and went inside to enjoy a hot meal.  But Duckly learned a valuable lesson:  Don’t be late for dinner or you might be early for someone else’s.