By: R. Liaw, A. Attuch, and L. Mores
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
My story: the smuggler
1:37pm. The deed was done. I had gotten away with the impossible. My magnificent plan had followed out perfectly; The duck was mine! Every detail calculated, every situation considered. "It should work," I told myself, "It has to.". The toughest had passed; the duck was bought, it had safely boarded the vehicle and now it was up to me, and only me, to do the brilliant strategy justice.
''What if they find it?"
"Do they suspect?"
"What if it quacks?"
"Have I blown my cover yet?"
All these thoughts haunting me, stopping me from processing information. Anxiety was obvious. I felt them staring at me, their looks corroding my skin, revealing my secret. The engine started.
"Yes!" I softly murmured under my breath. This meant success. Once we departed the duck dealers, there was no way they would find out. Right? All I had to do was lay low and keep my prize to myself. Easy enough, right? Should've been.
Oh, what a fool! What was I thinking? Smuggling a duck into a professional vehicle? How could I ever even think I could pull that off? No! I must stick to the plan! I've come too far already. I can see the end of the tunnel, the bright, quack-filled, rewarding end of the tunnel. I'm so close to victory, I can taste the glory. I won't give up now. I can finish what I started, in fact, I'm going to finish what I started!
I calmed myself down. I tried to keep my poker face. I mustn't give them any clues. At this point I'm confident again, I've started to believe in my amazing plan again and I'm determined to make it work. Then, out of nowhere, I hear a voice. What she inquired was:
"Who. Has. It.?!"
I could feel that the whole bus shivered, even the innocent ones were intimidated.
"I asked you a question!" she continued
In the words of Eminem, my palms were sweaty, knees weak, arms were heavy. My limbs lost all sign of energy, I felt like I was about to faint. Suddenly, I wasn't so confident.
"I must confess" I told myself quietly, "There is no way out"
All I could think was "abort mission, abort mission" but I was stuck, no way out, just me, the duck, and her. I was surrounded, I had no explanation. I saw two ways to go about it: I could confess, give up on all that hard work and look like a total fool. Or, I could keep my mouth shut, and hope for the best. I opted with number 2 for a good while, in fact, it worked for a solid 7 minutes. That is, until they started the oh-so-feared bag check. That's right, you heard me. Every single bag would be searched... including mine. The one filled with contraband! Now I was definitively doomed. How could I ever get away with that? Enough is enough, a good soldier knows when he is defeated. I need to do whatever it takes to not look weak. And at this point, that’s all that matters. The rest could be dealt with later.
"Miss, I... I have it. I bought the duck." I professed, as I was prepared to hand her the duck along with my reputation and dignity.
My story: teacher
Before they leave the bus, I must make these instructions as clear as possible; to transmit them in a way nobody can twist them for their own benefits. "Attention, may I please have your precious attention? No, please sit down for just a few more moments. Yes, there, thank you." I clear my throat, throwback my long locks of blonde hair, hope for the best, and loudly start: "Ok, we have come to an abrupt stop and will be having lunch in this friendly little joint, which happens to be a small farm too. Afterwards, we will head straight back to the bus and continue our trip back home. Before we all head out in an orderly manner, I will ask that you please, please, please do not buy anything from this place. In previous years, we've had stories of students buying pottery, carnivorous plants, counterfeit phones, among other crazy junk. The food from here is great; now the merchandise, um, not so much. We've decided to ban anything at all to be bought due to an incident that happened last year involving a fire ant jar. I really trust you all and hope that your common sense will outshine your yearning for useless objects. You may now exit the vehicle," That was great! I think there is absolutely no way that anyone could have possibly misunderstood the message.
Hold on a minute... Out of the corner of my eye, I spot a boy making his way towards the door of the bus. I kindly smile at him, but he just takes a quick glance at me and walks past me, carrying a blue backpack.
I quickly count heads to see if everybody has taken a seat at the tables. I sit in the right-most corner of the room to make sure I can see everybody. I allowed some students that finished eating to go observe the farm animals. Hopefully none of them will eat any of the rabbits, or set fire to the goats...
"Alright, everyone back to the bus!". I cannot describe how relieved I am to say these words. The pupils quickly scurry inside the vehicle. As I close the door and we start moving, a huge weight is lifted from my shoulders. Everyone has changed places to sit at the end of the bus, and they all have loud music on. A weird feeling in my gut tells me something is not right. Should I be worried?
No, no, no, no, no. I did not just hear that. Instinctively, I turn around and try not to display the fury I am feeling in my voice: "Who. Has. It?".
Every single pair of eyes in the bus stares with astonishment at me... All except one. By the looks on all the pupil's faces, it is easy to deduce that they know. I calmly walk forward, not breaking eye contact with the boy I am sure is the culprit and stop some four rows of seats before him. His eyes look up at me, and then down again. "The person who has the poor, um, duck" - I couldn't believe I was saying this - "better confess right now, or suffer the many consequences coming their way."
Three minutes went by and nobody admitted to buying the poor, little duckling. I am getting impatient. I am almost 100 percent sure who has it, but I can't single anyone out. What should I do? Maybe I should check the backpacks. Yes, that is what -
"Miss, I... I have it. I bought the duck."
My story: bystander
The bus came to an abrupt stop, its tires screeching like a baby. One by one, the passengers awoke. I lifted my weary arms and nonchalantly rubbed off the sleep from my face. All my friends seemed to be doing the same; yawning and stretching, fatigued and worn out by the journey. The light from outside bored into everybody's eyes, illuminating the relief of finally getting there. I stood up and stretched; that was the moment I saw it. The mischievous grin, the glimmering eyes. Oh no. Oh. No. Not again! I knew he was going to do something, and I knew it wouldn't be any good. I sensed he saw me staring at him and immediately turned back around. I shrugged it off, hoping it wouldn't interfere with the peaceful trip back. Oh, how wrong I was.
One by one, we departed from the bus and headed towards the restaurant. The smell of fresh baked goods wafted into my nose, making my mouth water, but it seemed as if I was the only one thinking about food.
"Do you sell any animals here?"
My eyes widened. I knew who was asking the one question which we were prohibited to ask. In an equally hushed tone, the waitress answered; "Yes."
I was the only one who figured out what his plan was. He was going to buy an animal, but which one? A bunny? A chick? A goat? I had to find out. So, I did the one thing I wasn't supposed to do. I strayed from the path, I went towards the dark side. I followed him. Tip-toeing and hiding behind bushes, I was like a ninja, never to be seen or heard. Practically like a shadow. He went towards the little animal farm and straightaway the animal dealer met him. There were no introductions, only another question;
"What kinds of animals do you sell here?"
The man went to the back of the farm and brought out a, wait what is that? A tennis ball? An orange? Then, the cutest little sound ever; "Quack!"
A duck! He was going to buy a duck! Oh, how adorable! How sweet! How, how - wait a minute. We were strictly told not to buy any sorts of animals. Did he not hear what they'd said? He could get into some serious trouble! A detention, or even a suspension! Did he see me? I could swear his eyes met mine. But then, phew, he faced the animal dealer again and gave him a R$20. The animal was placed into a box and "safely" tucked away into his backpack. Now, he was heading towards the bus again, and that's when I realized everybody else was too. Oh, a lot of time must've passed by! I'd even forgotten to go back to the restaurant and have lunch, but it was totally worth it; I was the only one who knew the little secret he was keeping inside of his backpack.
Safely tucked back into our seats, the engine of the bus rumbled back to life and off we went! I heard the quietest sigh behind me; he was relieved that nobody had discovered the duck in his backpack. Then, another sound; "Quack!". I turned around and his eyes widened. He lifted his trembling index finger to his mouth and made a "Shhh" sound to me. I obediently nodded my head. Neither of us had to say anything; we had made a silent agreement, a pledge never to be broken. But it seemed someone else had heard the quacking. The one person who couldn't have heard it. That one teacher.
"Who. Has. It?"
Everybody gasped. Who has it? What is it? A million questions started to be asked but they were silenced just as quickly; "SILENCE! Who has the duck?"
"Gosh, who would buy a duck?"
"They told us not to buy anything!"
Everybody started to look around, searching deep into each other eyes in the hopes of figuring out who had the duck. No one said anything, no one claimed to have the duck in their possession. Almost in slow-motion, I turned around and glared at my colleague. He was breathing heavily and was sat down as rigid as a stone, motionless, frozen. I whispered to his as silently as I could; "Tell her you have it, or else the duck will probably die!". I had to say something, I had to do something, or else only God knows what would've happened to the duck! He took many deep breaths, inspected the area to see if anybody was paying attention (which they weren't, no one seemed to be very interested in the whole situation at this point anymore), puffed out his chest and finally said;
"I have it! I have the duck."
Photography credits: rubinmuseum.org/events/event/the-man-who-stole-a-duck-03-29-2015