On our morning walk, I take in the flat surfaces that surround me. To my left, apartment buildings look like a reduction of the town homes that are cropping up in every Seattle neighborhood, the housing equivalent to iPhones. To my right, a junky RV, another neighborhood staple. This one has a rooftop fully equipped with a mini-grill, and lawn chairs, but too many pieces of junk for a good time. My dog Sagan diligently inspects a tree as his drool pitter patters onto the dry dirt. A woman in the passenger seat of a Ford F-150 breaks up a line of coke and snorts it on the console. A grey Dodge passes by with vanity plates that read “ONEDGE.” Fitting for this place. I know even people who live in beautiful neighborhoods still battle with mental illness, but my subconscious doesn’t believe it while I'm walking in mine. My goal is to walk to the duck pond and back. To remember that some people care for their spaces and pick up untraditional hobbies for the sake of fascination even in unexpected places. I turn onto the street I think the pond is on, but I've made a mistake. Sagan’s paws are getting burnt on the concrete, and the new street is unforgiving. A collared pewter shirt lays in the dead grass, sunbaked clean, still on a hanger. This is the most attractive observation I can make. August is moving season. People lie to themselves and say that others will pluck their unwanted items from the curb. I’m a good person they think and I’m so tired. Old lovesacks tossed to the side, their beans spill onto the sidewalk like a Home Alone movie. Particle board dressers garnish both ends. Once-bitten apples chunked by squirrels, that never think about produce waste, litter the path. I turn back to head home, feeling pity for my aging companion and tired of being in the sun. I give an emotionless glance to a man with a corgi across the street, and there it is. The beloved duck pond. The ducks are not there. Still, even the billboard brings me hope. “Chuck Billings started this duck pond in 1937, he loved these damn ducks and is a world class duck breeder.” Duck Billings I say to myself, unable to resist. The billboard displays all the ducks you might find in the pond Buffleheads, Harlequins, Hooded Mergansers. I stare at the the tiny wooden shacks hovering above the pond, hoping to spot a feather or bill. One quick survey of the bamboo forest. They’re beat, probably cozy in their shacks. The person who now owns the yard next to the house must be a sculptor, blocks of granite and sandstone lie next to tools near their porch. I pluck a lavender stem from a nearby bush and head home holding it under my nose to further calm myself. I walked through an overgrown alley to get to my house. At the end of the path a gentleman with a clear microwave plate in his shopping cart politely moves to the side. “Hi” he says, “Hi” I whisper cutting through the park to get home.
WRITTEN BY SARAH MCCROREY
ILLUSTRATION BY SARAH MCCROREY