“Uh, Freddie?” I called, standing at the back door and looking over the yard.
I felt him rub up against my shins and looked down at him. He looked back up at me and yawned. “What is it,” he asked once his jaws had snapped shut and his eyes had opened.
“I don’t know how to tell you this,” I said, slowly.
“Just say it,” he said.
“Well. You know how it’s Spring again?”
“Umm…so…it turns out…,” I looked back out to the pool. “The ducks are back.”
You know how this works, but as always, a gentle reminder:
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Outside, a lone duck swam around the pool, totally unaware of the drama he was causing. As we watched, Freddie plastered against the back of my legs and peeking out cautiously around me, the duck took flight, the sunlight glinting off the water sprayed out by his wings making it sparkle. “Neat,” I said, wishing I had been carrying my phone.
I felt Freddie shiver.
“He’s outside,” I pointed out.
“I know,” he said.
“He can’t get in here.”
He made his way slowly around me and approached the glass. “He left,” I said, unnecessarily. He lifted one paw and gently patted the glass. “It’s solid,” I reminded him.
“Hmm,” he said again, and turned his back on the outside to jump up on the couch. I followed him and claimed the seat next to where he had landed. He sat, slightly stiff, staring aimlessly at the wall in front of us.
“You okay, little guy?” I asked.
“Sure,” he said, stiffly.
“They are harmless, I promise.”
“Harmless,” he echoed.
“What do you think they’ll do?” I asked.
He eyes shot to mine.
“What won’t they do!” he demanded.
“They just swim around and sometimes they sleep on the grass. They might have little chicks that follow them around and are soooooo cute,” I told him, my voice going up into a squeal at the end.
Freddie looked at me in horror. “Cute?!” he cried. “With those beaks and those giant wings?!”
“Is it the beaks that scare you?”
He shivered again and I reached out to calm him with my fingers. “I just don’t like them,” he said, quietly.
“I think they’re nice,” I told him.
“Well, you’re big and have big feet and a loud, ugly voice,” he observed.
“My voice is ugly?”
“I’m little and they might chase me and corner me and then they have those beaks,” he said, darkly.
“You aren’t little,” I pointed out.
“I’m smaller then them!”
I shook my head. “I really don’t think you understand how big you are. You’re bigger than any duck.”
He looked at me surprised, then puffed up his chest. “I am and also I’m tough.”
“I would chase a duck and it would be scared of me!” he said, suddenly confident. “And then it would get so scared it would attack and I don’t have a beak!” he shrunk as he thought about it.
“You have claws!” I pointed out. “Four sets! I have the scars to prove it!” I turned my arm to show him the spot on the back of my hand where he had maimed me.
“I am pretty scary,” he said.
“Maybe…not exactly…scary,” I said.
“I could fight a duck!” he realized.
“Please don’t try to fight a duck,” I said.
“The next duck that enters my territory is going down,” he announced.
“They’re outside,” I pointed out again.
“What if he picks me up and flies away,” he said suddenly, turning wide eyes to mine.
“You’re way too heavy,” I pointed out.
“They’re strong, I can tell!”
“They have hollow bones.”
“Hollow…bones…?” he asked, sounding horrified.
“They have to be light so they can fly. All birds have hollow bones.”
He looked down at his paws. “Are my bones hollow?”
“Nope,” I said. “You don’t fly.”
“I don’t fly,” he repeated. “So if a duck flew away with me I’d be helpless!”
“Listen,” I said. “You don’t go outside. Ever. Unless I’m with you.”
“Sure,” he said.
“You’re a nice, indoor cat, right?”
“I’m very nice!”
“Yes. And very indoors.”
“Right,” he conceded.
“Ducks,” I said, pointing to the backyard. “Are outdoor birds. They stay out there, right?”
“So if they’re out there, and you’re in here…”
“They’d have to break the window to get to me!” he announced, horrified.
“They aren’t going to break the – “
“It would be so loud and scary!”
“They can’t – “
He tensed, and I grabbed him before he could run away. “Unhand me! I have to go lie down under your bed!”
“No hiding under the bed!” I said, sternly. “There is no reason for you to be scared. They have hollow bones! They can’t break that glass!”
I felt him slowly relax, my words finally sinking in. “Okay,” he said quietly. “Okay. Maybe this isn’t that terrible.”
“It’s not. This is your – what? – ninth Spring here? The ducks have yet to break the glass to get you.” I felt him tense in my hands a little when I mentioned the glass, but he relaxed when he heard what I was saying.
“That’s true,” he admitted.
“I don’t think they’re even aware of you. They don’t care about what happens inside this house. They just want to swim, and eat, and mate for the season.”
“I didn’t want to go under the bed because I was scared,” he said, settling down finally.
“I know,” I said. “You just needed to check and make sure my luggage was still under there.”
“Yes, I needed to check.”
“But now you don’t, because everything is fine.”
“Yep, the luggage is fine,” he said.
I saw movement out of the corner of my eye and turned my head in response. I gasped at what I saw. Freddie stood and looked around me to see too.
The duck was back, standing at the edge of the pool, looking through the window at us.
“I need to check the luggage!” Freddie announced, jumping off the couch and running up the stairs.
I sighed and glared at the duck. “You aren’t helping,” I said.
He opened his wings and flew off again, but I swear he looked smug.