Jill M. Talbot- “Everybody’s Duck”

I found a duck inside my house just sashaying along. I fed it cat food. I asked it how its day was. We went to Starbucks, I had mental breakdowns, the duck by my side with his latte. When he became he and not itmy duck and not a duck or the duck, I am not sure.  I think he was really always mine. Only became everybody’s duck the second I sat down to write this.

Now they are gathering around talking about their duck as if he is their duck. They are dressing him up, they are saying how he really isn’t a great duck after all. They are preventing him from swimming. They have put up bars, they are feeding him decaf coffee. They are giving him bowties, entering him in beauty competitions and foster care. They have forced him to take piano lessons. They are forcing him to play Duck Duck Moose. They are taking him in for psychoanalysis. They don’t realize that he prefers chai over vanilla. They don’t realize that he prefers Hemingway over Dostoyevsky. They don’t know the first thing about how to treat a duck. They don’t realize that he hates Chopsticks.

They have forbidden him from seeing other ducks, even on television. They have taken photographs of him for every month of the year, now advertised on The New Yorker as best calendar of the century. They have turned him into a glass installation put on the walls of cardiologists and dentists. He is on every Starbucks wall in North America.

He escaped to Arkansas or some other godforsaken place I have never been to but know all the same. The duck came back the very next day. So I hear, though one can hear a lot of things without ever really knowing.

They won’t let me say I’m sorry. I was just lonely.

Once upon a time I had a duck.


Jill M. Talbot’s writing has appeared in Geist, Rattle, subTerrain, PRISM, The Stinging Fly, and others. Jill won the PRISM Grouse Grind Lit Prize. She was shortlisted for the Matrix Lit POP Award and the Malahat Far Horizons Award. Jill lives in Vancouver, BC.