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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
Winter At the Duck Pond

Lizzie grabbed the plastic bag filled with slices of bread and ran out of the front door of her flat. She was dressed warm, in her winter coat, gloves, hat and boots. The wind was blowing gently, but enough to fill the air with a chill. She headed toward the pond behind the building she lived in. Since it was mid-winter, the water was partially frozen; ice was thick around the edges and growing day by day towards the center of the pond.

Several ducks were standing among what were once green bushes, but now only dead stems. Lizzie ran up to them. She tried to open the plastic bag but her gloved hands made it difficult. She pulled one of them off with her teeth and dropped the glove to the ground. She bent over and picked it up and stuffed it into the pocket of her coat. Her hand slid inside the bag and she grabbed one of the slices of white bread. She tore small pieces off and tossed them at the ducks. They began to fight over the morsels of bread. Lizzie tried to be fair and made sure each duck got a piece. Bright yellow beaks were nipping the air, and tugging at pieces of browned grass as they tried to be the first to get the bread.

Lizzie heard some quacking coming from across the pond. She looked over toward the noise and saw several dozen ducks, in all sizes, shapes and colors, waddling down the path that meandered around the lake. They were heading right for her, merrily quacking and honking as they made their way towards the food they knew was waiting for them. Lizzie smiled. Many of the ducks had the green necks, shimmering as emeralds in the reflection of the snow. Many were brown and dull, but the ducks Lizzie liked best were the white ones. She laughed when she looked at them. The white of their feathers  blended in with the snow and it looked like orangish-yellow bills and feet waddling along without a body.

Then Lizzie spotted a bigger bird, much larger than all the others. It was a goose. It had a long neck, a black bill, huge and orange, webbed feet and it honked louder than all the other birds. It seemed to push its way, clumsily, through all the others, knocking them out of the way as it raced towards Lizzie.

As the crowd of ducks grew around her, Lizzie began to get a little bit nervous. There were so many, all quacking hungrily, and she knew she didnít have enough bread to feed them all. She gazed down the snow-covered path at the approaching group, led by the big goose. Suddenly, the goose lowered its long gangly neck, its head hung near to the ground. It spread its wings out wide and ran madly towards Lizzie, honking wildly. The ducks all flew out of the way as it approached.

Lizzie didnít know quite what to do. Should she stay there and be attacked by the goose, or should she run? Before she had the chance to make her choice, the goose was upon her, trying to nip the bread out of her hand. She pulled it back and held the pieces of bread high above her head. The goose honked and flapped its wings. It wanted the bread, now!

Lizzie, still holding the bread high, ripped a hunk off and fed it to the goose, hoping to satisfy it. It gobbled it down quickly. She ripped other little hunks off and threw them down for the ducks, but the goose angrily pushed them out of the way to get to the bread.

Frustrated Lizzie finally dropped one entire slice for the goose to eat, then turned and walked down the path towards her flat. She glanced around and saw that the goose was still nibbling on his bread. Seeing the opportunity, she threw little bits down for the ducks, which were following her. She smiled again.

Just then the snow began to fall. A hush fell over the pond, the quacking stopped and the goose turned and headed down the path, back to where it had come from. Some of the ducks hesitantly flew away, off to some unknown destination. Others ran into the icy, black water and paddled away. Some just waddled down the path, away from Lizzie.

She stood there alone, her bread slices waddling away in the belly of a duck or two. She let the huge fluffy white snowflakes land on her face. They melted as they touched down on her warm flesh. More flakes landed on her coat, her outstretched arms and her long, flowing hair that hung out from the bottom of her hat.

As she walked back towards her apartment, off in the distance she could hear the goose honking, as if to say, "Iím home!" She smiled and went inside, shutting the door behind her.

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