The short life – and afterlife – of Franklin the duckling

I’ve written about some bizarre things on this blog before, but this story might take the prize.

Once upon a time, there was an adorable, fluffy yellow duckling. We’ll call him Franklin.

This isn’t a happy story – I should tell you that now. If you’re squeamish or don’t like sad tales, you might want to look away.

You see, Franklin wasn’t long for this world. Heaven must have needed a little angel. Before he had taken many breaths or steps – or perhaps any at all – Franklin went to the big duck pond in the sky.

Who knows why little adorable critters are taken before their time. Nature is a hard mistress.

How do I know all of this? You see, Z is going through an oddly dark phase. They like bones and taxidermified animals. Or is it taxidermied animals? I don’t know – both versions are making my spellcheck a little crazy. And me a little crazy, if I’m being honest.

Bottom line, my child likes cute dead things. So when Z saw Franklin on Etsy (yes, there are tons of cute dead things available on Etsy), they just about lost their mind.

Z simply had to have him. They named the duckling Franklin even before they met him.

Now, I’ve never purchased a little dead duck before, so I had to do my research – aka read the fine print. The seller maintained that Franklin was a fluffy, domestic Long Island duckling who had died a “natural farm death.” I figured there’s nothing suspicious about that at all – and they only had a couple of them for sale, so it didn’t seem like we were dealing with a duckling serial killer.

We purchased Franklin, and a week or so later, a tiny little package came to the house addressed to Z. It seemed impossibly small, but I thought it must be the duckling.

When Z got home from school and opened their package, sheer joy ensued. Franklin was, in a word, darling.

He was the tiniest, cutest little duckling and the taxidermy artist had given him pose-able feet so he could sit or stand. Honestly, I’m generally not a fan of dead things but Franklin was adored on sight by everyone who met him. He was a charmer.

Unlike every other animal who comes in this house, Franklin didn’t cause me a bit of work or annoyance. He was a sheer delight to have around.

Franklin didn’t make a mess, he didn’t make any noise and he was always chipper and ready to make you smile. I was highly skeptical at first, but I soon became a member of that poor dead little duckling’s fan club.

Franklin was always kept in a place of high honor – and safety – in Z’s room. The door to Z’s room is always kept closed due to da boyz, aka the guinea pigs, whom I also adore but who cause a ton of work, mess and noise. Unlike that blessed little Franklin.

One day this month, Z decided to take Franklin to school. Out of Z’s room he went, safely placed in a small purse, and off he went to school.

meme by Brandon Hinty

Needless to say, Franklin was a huge hit at school, too. He had a photo shoot – in fact, paparazzi and photo flashes followed him everywhere he went. Z’s bestie, Brandon, even made Franklin into a meme. Franklin was a star!

After school that day, Franklin even went to therapy with Z. I am not sure what a therapist makes of a tiny little dead duckling attending therapy – but when that duckling is as adorable as Franklin, I’m pretty sure it is met with smiles.

Did Franklin enjoy his day out, meeting lots of people, being held and posed and photographed? I don’t know that he did. He was dead, after all. But I can tell you that for several days after that, Franklin was left, forlorn and forgotten, in Z’s purse in the backseat of my car.

I reminded Z a couple of times during our various comings and goings, “hey, don’t forget about Franklin in your purse! He needs to go back in your room!” but alas, that little duckling remained in the cold car, neglected and alone.

I found myself feeling bad for Franklin – and I have an obsessive need to keep my backseat tidy – so after a few days of this, I grabbed Z’s purse myself and brought it into the house. That’s when our problems began.

You see, I didn’t follow through and take Franklin up to Z’s safe, locked room. Like any busy, multi-tasking mom, I threw the purse down on the kitchen island expecting Z to take it the rest of the way upstairs to its rightful place.

But Z didn’t take it up. And Franklin must have smelled pretty good to our naughty, trouble-seeking, mastadon of a puppy. Do I need to tell you what happened next?

Lamborghini was left alone for just a few minutes that evening, but it must have been just enough time for her to seek and destroy. Lambo’s attitude to raising hell and causing problems seems to be, “even if I don’t get away with it, it’ll still be fun. #YOLO

I came downstairs just in time to see Lamborghini hunched suspiciously over something small on the living room rug. I screamed “Lambo!” not knowing the worst had already happened. I swiftly grabbed up the remains of Lambo’s prey.

Only then did my brain compute what I was holding – the literal remains of a small taxidermy duckling. Franklin, our fine feathered little friend, was no more. Only his tiny, wire-threaded feet remained.

Z was devastated. We all were. I felt horrible knowing that it was my fault – that if I had left that stupid purse in my car, Franklin would be fine. I offered to hold a proper burial for Franklin’s feet, but Z was too sad so we skipped the rituals.

Instead, I had the obnoxious job of watching Lambo’s poop closely over the next couple of days to be sure everything came out alright in the end. I can tell you that dog has the amazing ability to eat and digest almost anything – including taxidermy, apparently – and survive. So far, there have been no ill effects other than a few extra nasty messes on the lawn.

Poor Franklin. You deserved so much better. Alas, your afterlife with us didn’t last much longer than your poor short life. I learned my lesson: next time, the purse stays in the car.

RIP Franklin – fly high, little buddy. You were too pure for this world.

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About the author

Proud and loving midlife mama. Lucky and devoted wife. Dog, cat and snake mom. Travel nut. Natural born writer. PR and social media pro by day - tattoo doula by night.
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