I think I see a dead duck underneath the brown, murky water. Its wet, ruffled feathers look like algea or maybe the spiky leaves that fall from the nearby trees into the pond. But it's the neck of the bird that really catches my eye, the way it twists up at an angle and then back down, like the start of a pretzel. I see a flash of its beak. Just this and no more.
And there's this great ugly bird. I can't tell if it's a big duck or a small goose. It has black and white feathers and a mottled red face, like some sort of bumpy scarlet mask, and when it walks past me in clumping old-man steps, it doesn't so much quack as grunt. It arrives at the side of the lake and drinks, fluffing its neck feathers and gargling. The water has enlivened its mood. Its tail wiggles back and forth, like a puppy.
* * *
I wrote down these observations in my journal last Tuesday, during a walk to Tri-City Park. I had gone there partly to get exercise, but mostly to try and ease my nervous mind. The ducks calmed me down while I was there, but the anxiety has since returned.
I haven't gotten work all week.
In fact, so far the month of January has yeilded only two substitute jobs. I had a good run in October, November, and December, and I hoped it would last, but it didn't, so now I'm broke again, right as the holiday bills are due. This only confirms in my mind that I will need to make a drastic career change very soon.
Now, lest you think I've been so bored this week I've been reduced to writing about ducks, let me tell you, that break was wedged between four hours of working on my Coffin novel and five hours of grappling with various problems converting my digital novel into print. In fact, I've been working frantically just to keep on pace with my regular weekly To-Do List, and I'm still not sure I'll get everything crossed off.
And this also troubles me because if I have 5 days off and can still barely keep up with my schedule of writing, how the heck am I going to do it, when I have subbing jobs to attend to, marketing campaigns to run, and classes to attend?