An Average Duck

by John A. Mathews

Kelly walked around the park until she found a nice bench near the lake, close to a paddling of ducks. She needed some time to relax after work, and figured feeding the ducks would be a nice start. As she joyfully unwrapped a loaf of bread, she barely noticed the elderly man with a large pointy nose who took a seat next to her.

“Good morning,” he said tightly.

Kelly looked up startled.

“Good morning,” she said with a smile, and then continued to unwrap her bread.

Once she could reach the first slice, she began tearing off pieces and throwing them towards the onslaught of ducks that came her way. (The ducks knew the sound of bread being unwrapped and were en route before she had thrown her first piece.)

As she tossed the bread about, the older gentleman next to her began making throat-clearing noises of disapproval.

“Ack.” “Ugh.” “Uff.”

“Is something the matter?” Kelly asked.

“Yes, don’t feed that one, he’s got a gimp leg. Not good at all.”

“Oh, I see,” she said, hoping the conversation were over now.

“Oh, don’t feed that one. He’s too ugly,” said the man, trying to push his hold over the bread distribution. Now that Kelly had talked to him, he felt he could be even more open with his criticism.

“No, that one looks like he’s losing feathers, ignore him,” he said. “Whatever you do, don’t give any to the one with the large beak. He’s so out of place,” continued the man, who wasn’t helping Kelly feel relaxed.

“ Wouldn’t the weak ones, the out of place ones, need bread even more than the others who are already being well fed by everyone?” she asked.

“Why waste it? Give it to the strong ones to ensure they’ll survive,” he said. “Survival of the fittest, I say,” said the old man, as he coughed a little from his lingering cold.

“What’s wrong with a duck having a limp, or frail feathers, or an extra large bill?”

“What’s wrong with it?” said the man confused. He felt as though he were asked why the sun shines. “It’s just not the best duck then,” he added, thinking he had settled the argument.

“But that’s fine with me,” said Kelly. “Why must we focus on the best all the time? Being the best, pushing for the best, only supporting the best. All these ducks need love, and bread.”

The man was about to say something, but then Kelly added,

“Sometimes a duck is just an average duck, and it’s ok, no matter what size, shape, or condition. Not every duck has to be the best.”

The old man nodded his head.

“You may be right,” he said. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to upset you.” The old man started to get up to leave.

Kelly took his hand, sat him back down, and then handed him a slice of bread. Then she looked in her bag and took out some peanut butter and jelly.

“It’s ok to be you too,” she said, and then started to make sandwiches for the both of them.

*  *  *  *  *

Inspiration: I was feeling pressure because some people were actually starting to read my blog.  I was also feeling good about my past stories, which added to the pressure to write good stories.  Then I realized that they’re not all going to be good, and that’s ok.  The important thing is that I write everyday.

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