Weekend Writing Warriors: Odd Duck (Crying Wolf)

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Last week, Ms. Merrok—who is something of a traditionalist—asked how Tom, whose wereanimal is technically prey,* could consider a werewolf his brother.

And Tom took off his shirt.

Okay, he just untucked it to show her a scar on his side, which she recognized as an old wolf bite.

Here’s the first draft of the story behind the scar:

Oil puddle

The summer before I went to kindergarten, one of our neighbors—who was neither a were nor Aware, as the saying goes—had changed his Buick’s oil and let the old stuff run into the stormwater drain that fed our pond. 

The next day, I’d jumped in without paying attention to the sheen on the water.  I hadn’t been old enough to realize why my pinfeathers didn’t feel right, or why the water had tasted terrible when I’d started to sink.  And I could never remember if I’d been too panicked to change or to even think about it, but I hadn’t, so I couldn’t cry for help. 

My parents, who were doing yardwork, though I was just fooling around like I always did.  But Bryan—who had been fostered with us for maybe half a year and was still spending most of his free time in fur—realized that my gurgles and  splashes didn’t sound right and headed for the pond, just as I finally went under.

He’d plunged in, nabbed me, and carried me to Mom, so scared that he’d bit down too hard and nearly ended things then and there. 

Bryan still felt guilty about that—but my scar marked the first time he’d treated me like he belonged to us.


I haven’t edited this part yet, so I’m not sure if it will remain something Tom tells the reader or be turned into dialogue to Merrock.  Though I’m thinking he wouldn’t share the whole thing with someone he doesn’t trust, or at least, not as written.

The reason the voice in this bit sounds different from Tom’s usual deadpan snark is that he was younger when he originally said it.  When this story was still percolating (“Okay.  There’s a wereduck and he… um… is a wereduck, so… um … yeah…”), I thought it was going to be a YA story.

It wasn’t.

But I kept that attempt as backstory for this one.  And I think the above has had such an effect on Tom that it belongs on page.


*Ducks in general, and Mallards and Muscovy in particular,  do not consider themselves prey.  They consider themselves players with titanium testes—and there’s a good reason Mother Nature didn’t give them teeth.  We should really thank her for that.


37 thoughts on “Weekend Writing Warriors: Odd Duck (Crying Wolf)

  1. That’s a great story about family. What about he tells some of the story, and then thinks about the rest? It avoids an inner monologue, without him telling more than he would to Ms. Grumpy Tail.

    • That’s exactly what I was thinking as I was writing this post, caitlin, and then maybe something about how life debts were easier for some people to understand . . .

      Thanks! 🙂

  2. I really enjoy the conversational style of your writing here. You can hear his voice as it paints the picture. You also portray his youthful thoughts beautifully.

  3. Aw, poor ducky got oil-slicked! I feel comforted knowing the bite came from intent to help, instead of playing rough. 🙂 I agree with Caitlin- maybe a bit of dialogue for the lady, and the rest in interior monologue?

    • This actually happened to the pond in our backyard–I don’t think we lost any ducks or geese, but the frogs and fish suffered. My Dad was livid.

      I think you and caitlin are absolutely right, Christina! 🙂

  4. …players with titanium testes….(snork..coffee spew). great….funny but true. Ducks will get after you if you piss them off enough – said the voice of once who knows .

    • They’re willful little beasts, aren’t they? Like intact tomcats with feathers. 🙂

      (I double duck dare you to put titanium testes in a poem, John! 😀 )

  5. Oh I love this, Sarah. It’s such a masterful way of showing the connection and the origins of the scar. Well done. 🙂

  6. I love this back story! Maybe keep it as “He saved my life” to Merrock and the rest on his reflection. (Maybe do the reflection first and then his short/curt answer to Merrock?) I dunno, but I like it! And I like that it shows that he’s not all snark.

    • Thanks, Paula! That fix seems to be the general consensus . . . I just need to figure out how much he’d bother to tell her. It’s possible he’d tell her the whole story later . . .

  7. Love the back story and the way you tell it. If you want to keep from revealing too much to Ms. Merrok, you could always let him think about what happened (inner thoughts), and just give Ms. Merrok a tidbit. 🙂

    • I think you’re right, Karen. I could always move it to a point in the story where Tom is more comfortable with Merrok, but I think there needs to be an explanation here for everyone.

    • Thank you, Veronica! 🙂

      We used to raise ducks, when I was a kid—my folks still have a couple of acres and a pond in the suburbs (the residential streets kind of snake around the original rural properties in their neighborhood), so we always ended up with everyone’s “Easter Miracle of Life” hatchlings, back when people did that. Baby ducks are all kinds of adorable. 🙂

  8. Love this story! I agree with you Tom probably wouldn’t share it in this manner with someone who is not a close friend, but you’ve given me a wonderful glimpse at Tom as a child and his relationship to his brother. Great 8.

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