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How do I get unlost on my own

The bottom of the pond is covered by a blend of tan, ocher, brown, and grey stones, hauled in by teams with hoses and buckets and bright yellow hard hats and orange vests. Painstakingly timed waves ripple from the center, generated by a motor and a pump somewhere out of sight. Not too loud. Not too quiet. A consistent undulation, the perfect backdrop for taking in shallow breaths after a wine glass-shattering argument. At the pond’s edges, water drains down to the source of the ripples, a pump forcing movement until seven pm every day – it is the same water over and over again. Had the pond been less shallow, had it been as deep as the ocean, there might have been room for a Loch Ness monster or a man-eating clown. But Mother Duck paddles to the side and leaps up onto the edge, ready to conclude today’s swim. Her seven ducklings follow suit. The last one, the runt of the group, the duckling who’ll never become a swan, only an adult duck but still a bit later than everyone else, readies its body for maximal momentum to make it from water to land. But the water pulls and the motor rumbles and it slips into the gap where no light reaches, where water churns and slides against granodiorite until it is returned to the surface as subjugated waves. Mother Duck quacks in distress. From the dark, the drainage’s lair, the Loch Ness’s nest, faint baby quacks echo back.

You wonder how long it takes until the mother duck stops its anxious quacking and leaves with her six children, how long it takes maintenance facilities to realize that they need to take apart the too flawlessly circular pond to unearth the duckling, how long it takes the duckling to realize no one is coming to help.

Anime enthusiast, software engineer, writer. Published in Atlas & Alice, Jellyfish Review, Okay Donkey. Best Small Fictions 2020 nominee.