Although the prompt was for ducks, I couldn’t help thinking of cormorants. I grew up with a book called The Story About Ping, which is, indeed, about a duck. However, the scene that has always stuck with me was about cormorants.
“Then came a boat full of strange dark fishing birds. Ping saw them diving for fish for their Master. As each bird brought a fish to his Master he would give it a little piece of fish for pay. Closer and closer swooped the fishing birds near Ping. Now Ping could see shining rings around their necks, rings of metal made so tight the birds could never swallow the big fish they were catching.”
As a kid, I felt sad for the cormorants and relieved for Ping that he didn’t share their plight. It was an early lesson in servitude and freedom. Rereading it now, I think of contemporary economic realities; many of us work for others and struggle to achieve true financial self-sufficiency in a system designed to hold us in service, often without our even realizing that that is the case.