Don the Swan

It’s a glorious day here at Pond Kingdom. The sun has risen, the birds are tweeting, and my fluffy wife Gertrude has recently awakened from her slumber. With a stretch of the wings and a crane of the neck, I begin my leisurely morning swim in search of breakfast. In order to find the juiciest insects to devour, it is vital that I start my search before that ghastly brigade of ducks arrives.

They drive me quackers.

Every morning they come waddling over, trying to steal the catch of the day from Gertrude and me. But that’s the least of my worries. I’m fully convinced that they all suffer from clinical insanity. Seriously, they’re always trying to convince me that we don’t live in an ordinary pond.

“Did you know this is actually a university?” they quack. “Apparently we live right in front of the president’s house!”

To these outrageous remarks, I always sneer in silence. I know for a fact that the beastly minions, who possess a strange fascination with walking around my kingdom, are by no means smart enough to be in college. I mean, surely students, who have met the qualifications to be admitted into university, would know better than to flap their arms at me in a mocking manner, or throw pieces of bread to my wife and me and expect any sort of kindness in return.

Even so, on this lovely morning, I make my way towards the hub of water bugs and am not surprised when the beastly ducks come swimming my way. I smack my beak in detest and preen my feathers, hoping that for once, they will be intimidated by my beauty and majesty. But NO. Here they come, their ducks in a row, already chattering about what they will presently relay to me. “Don! Don!”

“Greetings, esteemed peasants.” I reply with a sigh.

“You’ll never guess! It’s the most exciting news since ‘duck duck goose!’”

“If you could just get this nonsense over with I would be most obliged; Gertrude is waiting for me.”

“We finally have confirmation!” Jeeves, their ever-obnoxious leader and chief blurts out, swimming his way towards the front of the formation.

“Jeeves, how many times do I have to tell you? There is no need to speak at such a high decibel,”

“But this is urgent,” he squawks, “We have proof!”

“Proof of what?”

“Proof! Proof! Proof! Proof!”

“Eaaaaasy does it tiger, let me explain,” says Marquart, pushing Jeeves to the side. “What Jeeves means to explain, is that we have proof that these “pests,” as you call them, are indeed students.”

“Hit me.”

“We’ve noticed that every day they come here with textbooks, notebooks, pencils, oh my! If they were just uneducated passersby as you claim, why would they require these materials?”

“That’s beside the point.” I clear my throat. “If you’ll excuse me, my wife is waiting for me.” I swim away, almost unaffected. However, even to my highly elevated swan mind, I cannot deny that their observations are not altogether ludicrous. Perhaps my visitors are innocent students, who visit me and my kingdom in search of respite from the academic grind.

The only problem is, I don’t know how to explain this to Gertrude. For you see, Gertrude, some years ago, suffered from…an uh, incident. *gulp* it was the winter of 2004. Pond Kingdom was completely frozen over. Gertrude had been down south visiting her parents for the holidays, and when she arrived, didn’t realize the nature of her surroundings. I explained to her that the pond was frozen. Yet Gertrude, who never was the brainiest of the bunch, didn’t know what the word ‘frozen’ well…meant. As such, she took a giant leap over the water, expecting to gracefully drop in as always. She conked her head, very hard, on the ice. She hasn’t been the same since. Consequently, I dreaded attempting to explain to her this newfound information.

“Gertrude, darling!” I cried, circling about the little island upon which she generally lay.

“Dearest! You’re back!” she exclaimed, flapping her lop-sided wings with glee.

“Yes, and I have news for you.”

“DO SHARE!”

“You know those humans we call ‘minions’ whom you’re always squawking at me to chase away with whatever vicious precautions you deem necessary?”

“Yeah?”

“Well, uh, as it turns out, those minions…are, indeed…students. We live at a university. This isn’t Genovia from The Princess Diaries as you believe.”

Her crazy eye twitches.

“What’s a university?”

I sigh.

“Quick! Don, predators! Chase! Chase them away before they harm our precious kingdom!”

With slight hesitation, I go after the students walking by, keeping enough of a distance to intrigue their dare-devil tendencies. They always come back when I taunt them with a hope that they may defeat me. It’s sad for Gertrude that she will always exist in this strange state of disillusionment. But I have to admit, it is oddly satisfying to watch the students flee from me as if I’m finals week. Respectfully, I remain,

Don the DBU Swan

(Written by Karoline)

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