Aug 06
fiction challenge: Writing 2022
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Mom Talks

The school bell rang loud and clear, and I exploded out of Seven Creeks Elementary, my school. Summer. Finally! The Friday afternoon sun blazed down, scorching the sidewalks. The last day of school was finally finished.
    When I burst into the house, I got a surprise. The house was empty. A note was placed onto the wooden dining table. I slowly walked over, confused. Usually, Mom was in here, waiting for me with a large grin on her face. What was happening?
    I walked over to the table, and picked up the note. In rushed, scraggly letters, was Mom’s handwriting. Even more weird. Mom usually had really neat handwriting, and always wrote in cursive. It said:

Mint, I have to go to the supermarket. Don’t follow me, please. Just do your daily homework, and dinner is in the fridge. Don’t worry about Kyle. I’ll see you tomorrow. 
Love, Mom

    I stared at the little letter. What did Mom mean, ‘I have to go somewhere’? And why wasn’t my younger brother, Kyle, here? Insane thoughts came over my mind. Did Kyle get kidnapped? Did he run off?
    Since I was known for being a bit stubborn and not listening to orders, why would Mom tell me where she had gone? Things were getting a bit too suspicious. 
    I thought the most Mint-sensible thing to do was to go to the supermarket and go looking for Mom, but I decided on using reverse psychology instead. I started searching around the house.
    In no time in all, I found Mom, hidden under the mountain of clothes in the closet. 
    “What in the world, Mom? What are you doing here?” I asked.
    Mom said nothing, but pushed herself deeper into the clothes. Her eyes were red and wet, as if she had been crying. My eyebrows jumped an inch.
    “Mom? Tell me,” I tried again. But I got no answer. “Mom,” I started, “Are you okay? Is something wrong? What do you mean, ‘Don’t worry about Kyle?’”
    Mom closed her eyes. Then she opened her mouth. Hope shimmered in her eyes. But when Mom started talking, the most crazy thing happened.
    “QUACK, QUACK, QUACK,” she squawked. What in the world? “Mom? What happened to you? Why are you quacking like a duck?” I asked, a look of wonder and terror marching over my face like soldiers.
    Then I noticed something even weirder. My Mom had feathers, feathers sprouting everywhere over her body. Mom made even more strange quacky duck noises. Before I knew it, a small duck was standing in front of me, her eyes emitting small pearls of tears.
    The duck waddled over and slowly handed me a small, old wrinkled parchment that said:

    Ah, sorry for my mistake. I was practicing for my shape-shifting test, when I accidentally hit you with my magic. I am deeply sorry for the misfortune. FORTUNATELY, I did somehow managed to find a cure. You and your little daughter shall venture to the nearest forest and seek for the Blue Marigold, a special blue-colored herb. Don’t worry, the Blue Marigold looks like marigolds, except that Blue Marigolds are covered with hues of blue. Get one flower and crush it. Sprinkle the remains on water and drink. Then, you shall be healed. Warning, you have to have this done BEFORE THE FIRST DAY (I have capitalized ‘before the first day’ for emphasis and good measure, in case you were wondering). Else, you will stay as a duck…
                    --Anonymous magic person (I like to keep my anonymity)

    Duck-Mom gave a quack of alarm. I frowned at the paper. Finding a blue marigold thingy? This was going to be hard. I’ve never even seen a marigold in the wild! I glanced at Duck-Mom.
    She let out a series of squawks when she reread the message. “Well, Duck-Mom,” I said. “Let’s go to the Butterfly Falls Forest. That’s the forest nearest to our house,” Duck-Mom quacked indignantly when she heard her new nickname. I laughed. “Fine, I’ll call you Mom, Mom,”
    Mom’s eyes were still full of skepticism when she followed me out of the house. 
* * *

    I fell onto a tree stump. “Ugh! What a fantastic way to spend my first day of Summer break like this!” I said, my voice laced with sarcasm.
    Mom’s eyes showed everything, even though she just shrugged with her wings and hopped on to the remaining spaces left around the stump. 
    I looked at her. “We’ve been searching for hours, Mom! And we haven’t even seen a marigold. How are we going to find a blue marigold?” Mom quacked in response. Then suddenly, I noticed something strange. Something out of place. 
    The side of the trunk was … glowing. Glowing blue. Blue! I jumped out of my wooden seat and turned to the side of the tree stump. 
    There it was! The day’s prize. The Blue Marigold. Then, a thought struck me like lightning. This was too easy. Wasn’t there like, a main challenge or something? Mom hopped beside me, examining the herb. When she noticed what it was, she let out peals of duck-laughter and some duck-quacks.
    “HA, QUACK, QUACK, DABBLE, QUACK,” Mom laughed/quacked.
    I smiled along with her, though something squirming was wriggling around my stomach.
    I gently crushed the flower with a rock, and sprinkled it over the handful of water that I had found in a puddle near the tree trunk where Mom was currently observing everything. 
    She excitedly opened her beak as I carefully walked over and poured the content out of my hand and into Mom’s waiting bill. 
    I waited for the result.
    Mom waited.
    We waited.    
    But nothing happened.
    Mom furrowed her duck-eyebrows and beak-frowned. I didn’t know that it was possible to frown when you were a duck. “Why is it not working?” Mom asked. I shrugged. “I don’t know.” I paused. “Mom, you’re talking! In English!” 
    Mom stopped breathing. “I am!” she exclaimed, and she did a little duck-dance-while-waving-wings around the tree trunk. “But why aren’t you turning back to a human?” I asked, instantly breaking the happy atmosphere. I seemed to have a skill for doing that. Mom turned away. “Anonymous Magic Person must have been lying! That so-called magician must have been just playing with us this whole time!” she said, angered by the thought.
    Mom turned her whole body away from me. “You’re right, Mint,” she said, standing up on her legs, and shaking her arms in frustration. Or maybe for the sake of drama. “Wait,” I said, realization dawning over me. “Mom! You’re turning back to a human!” 
    Mom’s crestfallen face brightened as she noticed. “You’re right, Mint! Look, I’m losing all my feathers!” Mom did another victory dance. In an instant, she turned back into a duck. Mom’s face fell again.
    “Hey…” I trailed off, realizing something. “Mom. Can you dance again?” Mom lifted her head up. “What?” she said, baffled. I gave her a look. “Fine,” she said, and performed the ridiculous waddle dance for the third time that day. Mom poofed into a human. 
    A hopeful look dropped on Mom’s face. “Does that mean…” 
    “Yes,” I nodded.
    “I can switch forms from duck to human by chicken-dabbing?” she asked.
    “What?” That was not what I was expecting. But I shrugged. Then I started to smile. “I guess so,” I said. Mom laughed, and did her stupid chicken-dab-duck-waltz-whatever dance to morph back into a duck. 
    “I hope my attire is okay,” she said, duck-grinning as we exited out of Butterfly Falls.
    I gave her my signature lopsided smile back. “I hope so too,” I said.
    “Then let me do one last thing,” Mom said. “QUACK!

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