Traffic Jam

Lorraine slammed on her brakes. She threw her car in park and climbed out while a near pile-up continued behind her. The woman directly behind Lorraine laid on her horn, but Lorraine ignored her, or perhaps didn’t even hear.

In front of her car, Lorraine saw the ducklings, waddling slowly. They stopped, pecked at some invisible food on the pavement, then continued waddling. They weren’t headed toward the curb, but instead moving in a circle in one of the ruts worn by thousands of tires. If she hadn’t braked, they would be ground duckling.

“Come on now,” Lorraine said, shooing them with her hands. “Off you go, off the street.”

More honks came, the street now backed up as far as she could see. She lifted a middle finger, then turned back to the ducks.

“Go! Get off the road!”

The ducklings looked up at her, then continued their circled movement and pecking.

Lorraine sighed. She looked around for some tool to move them, but didn’t see anything useful. She reached down, grabbed a duckling, and put it on the grass beside the road. The other ducklings scurried to the side, but she had one safe. She returned and grabbed another, causing another flurry of avoidance.

The second last one put up a fight. It pecked at her hand, causing her to drop it. But she continued, grabbed the duckling again, tolerating its peckings until she could toss it to the grass with its fellows.

The last duckling ran under her car, out of reach. Why it didn’t want to join its brothers and sisters, she couldn’t say, but she had to grab a stick from the side of the road and prod it out. It climbed on to the curb itself, and soon all the little ducklings were safe and out of the way.

Lorraine returned to her car and put it in drive again. The traffic jam made the evening news, the delay leading to eighty fender-benders, but the ducklings were alive, at least for the day.

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