“Dad, you’re sure messing with Mom’s kitchen is a good idea?”

“We’re not going to mess with her kitchen,” Mike justified, “she is.”

Mike had been planning his 35th anniversary prank for ages. Charlie was lured under the guise of installing pressure sensors on the robot vacuum, but he was really the bait: Claudia wouldn’t let him leave without ten containers of empanadas. And when she finished—wham! Glitter and duckies everywhere.

He made one last attempt to assuage Charlie. “Besides, it’s reversible. We’ll have a good laugh and help her clean up.” The front door creaked. “Oh! She’s coming inside. Act natural!”

Claudia, still humming, headed to the bar for her post-gardening juice. Mike had set up after her post-exercise, post-shower, and pre-gardening juices, and it paid off: she didn’t notice the elaborate setup in her kitchen, even the gigantic tub of duckies. She only noticed Charlie.

“Mijo!!’ she emoted, trapping him in an affectionate hug.

“Mom—“

“Let me make you some food. Now tell me: to what do I owe the pleasure?”

“Mom—“

“No, no, no, no, let me feed you. It’s my job,” Claudia interrupted, punctuating the end of her sentence by throwing wide the fridge door.

The holiday lights fell, pushing a toy truck into the crates, transferring momentum to an angle bar.

“Fine, mom.”

“I want to hear all about your beautiful new job,” she enthused, knife in hand, “and your beautiful new house…”

While Claudia kept prefacing potential conversation topics with the same two modifiers, Mike gave Charlie an encouraging nod: keep letting her love you. It’s distracting!

The bar nudged a hanging display of pans, the last of which hid a small weight. It fell into the scale, knocking over the menus like dominoes.

Charlie’s younger brother Hector walked by. “Hey, guys, I’m going to my room to do my homework,” he announced, heading to his room to do his homework.

The menus dislodged a precariously balanced tray, one corner of which was lodged in a spice rack.

“Willow Creek is wonderful. It’s peaceful out there.”

“How nice!!”

The spice rack spun counterclockwise, pulling a string connected to the sink tap. Mike’s plan had reached its antepenultimate step. Charlie stalled as he waited for the sink to fill and drop more duckies in the bucket. “How about you? How’s Hector?”

“Hector has been looovely, helping me cook,” here she emphasized the word ‘lovely’ by pirouetting across to the kitchen island near Charlie. As she turned, her arm knocked the wooden mallard too early, releasing the string around its neck from a tarp on the ceiling. Glitter and duckies rained over Claudia’s kitchen. Mike could only watch his brilliant contraption being ruined by the one factor he couldn’t control.

“Ahhhhhh!!!!” Claudia squealed. “Pranking! I love it! I love it!”

Mike tried to hide his annoyance. “Hun,” he pleaded, “I spent days engineering this, and you just wrecked it in two seconds.”

Claudia sank as the joy left her body.

“Sorry, love,” she mumbled, brushing glitter off the countertop with her arm.

“Mom, c’mon,” Charlie pleaded. “Let me get that.”

Mike kept venting. “It was going to be so good! When the mallard dropped, I was going to yell ‘Claudia! Duck!'” Claudia kept her head down. The robot vacuum hit her in the foot. “You always do this.”

Just then, Hector reappeared, stifling giggles. “Surprise, Mom and Dad! I said I was going to do homework, but I was actually texting my friends! Psyche!”

He beamed at his family members, who were clearly caught speechless by his ruse.

That’s how you pull off a prank, folks.”


So! Now that the contest is over, I can reveal who the fool in this story really was. If you’ve spent enough time trying to figure it out for yourself, feel free to read the explanation here. Thanks to everyone who read and voted!

Claudia! Duck!
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26 thoughts on “Claudia! Duck!

  • April 12, 2019 at 11:11 am
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    I adored the description of the complicated mouse trap (well duck trap in this case) so much fun! It is too bad Mike was so disappointed 🙁

    Reply
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  • May 1, 2019 at 1:45 pm
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    Somfunny. The elaborate setup was bound to go wrong…..

    Reply
    • May 2, 2019 at 1:34 am
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      Ha—-this is hitting close to one of the deeper alternate interpretations! It’s set up so that 6 people could possibly be considered the fool, and one of them has to do with the fact that elaborate things have more chances to fail.

      Reply
  • May 1, 2019 at 10:05 pm
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    No battle plan can survive after its first engagement! Ha! What a fun family! Although I’m kind of sad Claudia felt so bad about ruining the prank when she enjoyed it so much much at first. Mike should probably learn to enjoy it even when it’s not perfect.

    Loooove the finger guns at the end! 😀

    Reply
    • May 2, 2019 at 1:30 am
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      Good eye for subtext! This story is supposed to be funny, but hint at some inner turmoil.

      Reply
      • May 2, 2019 at 1:43 am
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        I def. Feel there is some tension. But yeah, the humor shines through.

  • May 1, 2019 at 10:21 pm
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    Re-reading everything before voting. Got some good chuckles here. Good fun.

    Reply
  • May 2, 2019 at 3:00 am
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    I knew Hector was up to something. I mean, what kid willingly goes upstairs to do homework!? Fun story, I really enjoyed it, ruined prank and all.

    Reply
  • May 6, 2019 at 11:14 pm
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    I feel so bad for Claudia. She thought it was funny and her husband gets mad at her because it was a little early. He should have just been grateful she didn’t notice his Rube Goldberg machine sooner! I like how Hector jumps in with a lame joke at the most inappropriate time and thinks it’s the most hilarious thing ever. He’s my favorite!

    Reply
    • May 6, 2019 at 11:22 pm
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      Mm-hmm, there are a bunch of red flags! The paragraph early on explaining how she failed to notice the machine doesn’t reflect well on Mike either. I’m guessing you save your friends from a lot of bad relationships?

      And yeah, Hector’s a doll!

      Reply
      • May 7, 2019 at 4:30 am
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        I do pick up on vibes, body language, the way people say things… I’m always delighted to see those subtleties in a story. It shows how well an author knows their characters.

      • May 7, 2019 at 6:40 am
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        That’s high praise! These guys are from the main storyline, so I’ve spent (maybe too much) time living in their heads.

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  • December 17, 2019 at 8:53 am
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    Can we give Hector a dictionary with a sticky tab over the page which contains the definition of the word prank?

    Reply
  • January 22, 2020 at 7:13 am
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    Oh, Mike. You absolute freaking ass, Mike. And Hector… and… Charlie is actually such a good son, I adore him. Mike needs to tone down his passion for pranks an inch or two.

    Reply
  • August 20, 2020 at 8:37 pm
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    “Ahhhhhh!!!!” Claudia squealed. “Pranking! I love it! I love it!”

    Mike tried to hide his annoyance. “Hun,” he pleaded, “I spent days engineering this, and you just wrecked it in two seconds.”

    Claudia sank as the joy left her body.

    Aw man. Claudia actually enjoyed the end result of glitter and duckies everywhere before Mike wrecked that for her. Couldn’t he have simply yelled “Claudia, duck!” then? What an ass.

    Reply

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