[Say that blogpost title five times fast.]
Writing Prompt: Childhood Pet
While we’re all talking about independence, here’s my morbid memory of one of my family’s first pets. I wrote this for the Writer’s Prompt in A Year of Writing Dangerously that asks to write about a childhood pet.
Freedom Freddie. A duckling full of hopes and dreams for the future.
He was skittish, worrisome. Who was this doting family who squeezed and coddled him, never a minute alone? His confident waddle assured the kids though that the shredded lettuce they showered upon him was reason enough to overlook the stifling attention.
And Freddie was happy. Freedom was a little subjective, but he enjoyed his cage for now and his heart fluttered when he would see the pouty lips and puppy eyes as the parents cautioned the kids that Freddie would one day be an independent duckie, released to a pond where he can splash and play and make his own home.
The kids liked to think that this manmade structure was Freddie’s home. But stories of the pond – how glorious it sounded. His mother and siblings must be there, awaiting his presence. The pounding rain, the hard concrete, the screech of tires, and the cold bare skin – those first memories would be washed away by the splashing and quacking. New stories, new memories recollected of a mother who did not abandon him, but lost him in a tragic mishap he would one day learn the details of.
This temporary family, they could not understand his expectations of this certain future, when all they said was, “Ducks were made for a pond, not for a bedroom.” And yet, perhaps this future was not so certain.
A mother lost forever. Siblings frozen on other obscure roads. Or this nurturing home his death sentence. His heart pounded and his feathers refused to warm him – now he was freezing as well – and Freddie squawked his pain to no avail.
One lone child held him close as his harsh screams filled the otherwise silent home. Offerings of more packaged lettuce, the gentle strokes of comfort, a warm towel – nothing could stop the pain, the chill of reality.
Finally, his body would not allow him to cower against the child’s middle. With unstoppable force, his body began to stretch out, straighter and straighter – “Not like a duckling,” he thought. “Too human.” All at once, his squawks were silenced, his shivers relinquished, and his eyes refused to blink as he lay in the warm towel, still and straight as a funeral corpse.
“It was the lettuce,” the parents would say. “We discovered that packaged lettuce has chemicals that are poisonous to ducklings.” And with those words, Freedom Freddie‘s need for sustenance wrenched the dreams of independence from his webbing.
What Say You?
What’s one of your memories of a childhood pet?