The Pond

by Jane Wagar

The decision to take over the city pool was not made lightly. It was only after years of systematic abuse and habitat sabotage that the idea occurred to us. Our usual pond had been bulldozed to make room for a TGI Fridays and a failing strip mall. Kevin, a close friend and beloved member of the community had been run over in the crosswalk. It was time to do something.

And so, on the third Saturday of June, when pool traffic was beginning to pick up, we descended. There was a swarm of us. A mass of feathers and bills. We came in at 6 a.m. and watched as pool-goers filtered in. With shocked faces, the humans dropped towels and sunscreen to marvel at our demonstration.

Soon enough, there was a crowd watching us sit in the pool. There wasn’t a free square foot in the Olympic-sized monstrosity.

We made the papers. We made the nightly news. And soon enough the cheeky broadcasters and silly headlines (“Ducks Staging a Sit in at Local Pool”, “Isn’t it Daffy What the Ducks Are Up To?” etc.) gave way to genuine concern.

It was July.

The humans tried everything.

“What are they eating?”

“Aren’t the chemicals hurting them?”

The humans drained the pool, but an unseasonably monsoon-like rain refilled it. The humans gave us too much bread and then tried to starve us. Loud noises, bright lights, and other scare tactics did nothing.

The pool was getting scummy. Frogs moved in.

It was time for a last-ditch effort.

The humans made signs to protest the protest and called for our heads. Hunting season was nearing and they wanted to exterminate us.

Then the infighting began.

Some said it was morally wrong—“they’re literally sitting ducks!”

Some said the pool was out of date anyway and suggested building a new one.

The crazies called it the apocalypse.

The evangelicals a sign from God.

The libertarians a free market.

There was a town hall. The humans were hysterical.

In the end, their indecision was their downfall. The season ended, the pool closed, and we remained.

Sometimes kids pass by and still say, “Mommy, didn’t that pond used to be a pool?”

To which mothers reply, “Hush honey, that’s just a story.”

Jane Wagar is a second year MFA candidate at Northern Michigan University, and the associate Shorts editor for Passages North. She writes stories and poems that are (usually) about death, kissing girls, and outer space.

Artwork by: Qinrui Chen