Rachel made her way to the far end of the lake. She heard splashing from the birds, and raised her binoculars to look out again. Two large swans rose up and down in the water, then began to swim towards her. They gave a lonely call which spoke to her heart. “I miss them too,” she whispered back. What exactly she missed, she couldn’t say for sure. She missed people, animals, birds, peace of mind. She missed early morning conversations and watching new life come into the world. She could only hope the swans would one day have young again. There had been no new life born since the disease started.
Rachel lowered her binoculars again and walked back towards the cabin. It was getting late and she was weary. Along the shore, she saw the ducks again. There were three of them. They splashed in the water and dove down, looking for a meal. She hoped they found the food they needed. It had been months since she had seen any fish in the lake. She feared the birds would starve before disease took them. The ducks swam in a circle pattern. It reminded her of a game she used to play, long long ago as a child. She could hear her cousins laughing as they sat in a circle and her sister ran around the circle, touching each of their heads. “Duck, duck, duck, goose!” At the word goose, whoever was touched would chase the person calling out the words until they reached the spot the chaser had been sitting. If the runner sat down first, the chaser would be the next caller. If the chaser tagged the runner, the runner would sit in the middle until another person was tagged.
Rachel missed the games. She missed childhood, when times were simpler. A dark spot in the distance caught her eye and she raised the binoculars again. It took her a moment to focus. Goose. The word came to her mind but she didn’t know how it could be real. They were all gone. She wanted to see another one so badly, but it was impossible.
Or was it? She looked again at the shore. Duck, Duck, Duck. Raising the binoculars, she looked again. Goose. It was definitely a goose. It gave her hope. If there was a goose alive, there was likely more. If the geese somehow got ahead of this horrible disease, then maybe they could too. She counted one last time. Duck, duck, duck….goose. Hope.