Sleeping Ducks

Fiction

“Where are all the ducks?” Sam asked in his sleepy four-year-old voice.

Normally a large group of ducks congregated in the narrow path to our home, making driving tough if we were in a hurry to get home.

“Well, Sam, they’re sleeping,” I assured him.
“No way silly,” Sam protested.
“Ducks don’t sleep.”
Remember he’s four.
 
Sam’s only experience with ducks was that they were always active, always on the move, and usually in our way.
 
“No, son,” I said quietly,” they’re sleeping. Just like we sleep, they also need their rest.” 
 
He paused and considered the point I’d made and slowly acquiesced to the radical concept of ducks sleeping.
 
“Ducks sleep? Ducks sleep.
 
“Wow.”
 
“Where do they sleep?”
 
“Well, Sam, they usually snuggle together near the water.”
 
“Aren’t they scared to be out there in the dark?”
 
“Nah,” I assured, “God watches over them just…
 
He paused and accepted for the moment that ducks sleep and aren’t necessarily afraid to sleep out in the open near the water absent a bed, conditioned air, and a roof.
 
That night Sam woke several times complaining of a sore throat.
 
By 9:00 am we were in the hospital preparing for an emergency tonsillectomy. 
 
Life is always lived in the fast lane with a four-year-old.
 
But then his kidneys refused to “wake up” after surgery.
 
I don’t know why.
 
The problem is, neither does anyone else around here.
 
Oh, the doctor says that they’ll probably wake up in a few days and not to worry.
 
Probably?
 
Worry?
 
Really?
 
I find it hard not to worry as I watch an ugly dialysis machine wheeled into his room every day. 
 
“Please God let his kidneys wake before morning,” I pray.
 
And I pray.
And I watch the sun – a fiery ember through the hospital window.
 
It sets, slowly.
 
Not far away, in the pond, in the children’s park, a duck family quietly gets ready for bed.
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