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(A short story of 2583 words)

Water off a Duck's Back


by Sarah Passingham

Except for the duck, the wedding was unremarkable.

It was a celebrity wedding, but all the usual things happened, and in more or less the correct order. The caterers were too early, none of them spoke English, and the flowers were late. The best man – who was not Rowan’s best man but the brother of the bride – pretended to lose the ring. Gloria had a last minute fight with her mother over her intention to honour, but not to obey in her wedding vows, and one of the bridesmaids ate too many chocolate muffins before the reception and was sick.

The duck had been there since the early morning. Gloria told Rowan that she had seen it from her bedroom window. She’d woken early because the new wind-chimes in the Versailles potted orange trees had disturbed her. The duck had been swimming in lazy circles on the turquoise surface of the swimming pool and, apart from noting a pleasing splash of bright orange against dark aubergine that might have a place in a colour scheme somewhere in their new ranch house, she gave it not a moment’s more thought.
This was a mistake because the duck was entirely responsible for what happened, even if Rowan now felt he owed it a debt of gratitude.

The wedding took place in the open air and landscape artists had been busy for several weeks creating a ‘unique betrothal space bursting with never-to-be-forgotten features’. Nearly three hundred guests had been invited – the duck was not one of them – and almost all had accepted, fearful of being left out of the society columns...


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