An Open Letter From Mrs. Mallard’s First Brood

with Lauren Krueger

We, the undersigned members of the first brood hatched by Mrs. Mallard, wish to express publicly our disappointment in you, our mother’s second mate. Although you are known to the world as “Mr. Mallard,” as far as we are concerned your actions have brought dishonor to the name that once belonged to our late father, Mister Mallard.

Our existence should not surprise you. When our mother remarked, “I know all about bringing up children,” what could you have thought she was referring to, other than having raised ducklings already? (And why else would she have started ten letters into the alphabet when it came time to denominate your offspring together?) Surely, then, you must have known that her grown children, whose love for her is mighty, would not tolerate your engaging in adulterous shenanigans behind her beak. For that is indeed what we charge you with: behavior most fowl.

It was when some of us were visiting our cherished mother, not long after she had molted and gotten settled in on that comfortable island in the lagoon to keep her new eggs warm, that we learned of your curious departure, ostensibly to “explore” farther along the river. If your trusting wife was bothered by your barely-explained absence, she didn’t show it, but our feathers certainly were ruffled.

We made inquiries. We spoke with Michael of the Boston Police Department, a friend of our mother’s. He had suspicions of his own. Michael put us in touch with a colleague, a discreet investigative professional. We hired that private duck to tail you, Mr. Mallard, to find out where, exactly, you’d gone and why. The truth made these ducks cross.

It would have been bad enough if you’d merely been visiting a love nest, dabbling with a swain, or even a swan. But no: You have an entire other family, one you started before you met our mother and one you have every intention of increasing for years to come, with no artificial limit placed on your procreation! This much became apparent when we learned how you’ve chosen to name your secret ducklings up the river. Do 1ack, 2ack, 3ack, and the rest know about your double life? They will now. To learn that one’s father is a rake of a drake can be devastating. All of your children might now want to hide their heads underwater; but shame is not so easily submerged. They have our sympathy.

With upended hearts, we are
Aack, Back, Cack, Dack, Eack, Fack, Gack, Hack, and Iack

Matthew David Brozik wrote this and many other short humor pieces, which have been published in print and online by The New Yorker, Adult Swim, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Grin & Tonic, The Big Jewel, and no one.

Read more humor here. Or read some fiction here.