Author's choice + yellow.
rubber duck | madzie | 500 words
Madzie lies at the bottom of the tub, gazing up at the bright yellow rubber duck floating above her. She’s too big to lay all the way down in the little tub, so her knees are hugged to her chest, feet propped up on the tiled wall. It’s still nice though. Everything always feels better underwater. It’s easier to breathe, as backwards as that would sound to most people.
But well. Most people don’t have gills.
She can hear Magnus pacing outside the door, obviously still upset. She feels badly, but it’s also partly why she’d come in here. This is the one place neither of them ever follow her, so she takes advantage of that, sometimes.
“Madzie, darling?” Magnus calls out softly.
Madzie closes her eyes. She hates how small his voice sounds. I did that, she thinks, her stomach dropping heavily with guilt.
She takes one last deep pull of water in through her gills, centering herself in the feeling, before slowly emerging from the tub. The ripples caused by her movement send the little rubber duck drifting away from her. He’s running away too, she thinks.
She hadn’t thought to grab her favorite bathrobe when she fled in here to hide, so she magics it in from her bedroom. She hasn’t quite mastered conjuring something directly onto her body, so instead it appears folded neatly on the counter and Madzie dons it quickly. The slightly too big hood (complete with floppy rabbit ears) falls down over her eyes. She hesitates for a moment before reaching into the tub to retrieve the duckling, tucking it into the pocket of her robe. It’s comforting.
She opens the door to find Magnus still standing outside, just as she suspects. With her bath hood drawn over her eyes, she can only really see him from the ankles down. She can’t really tell from his ankles whether he’s still upset with her, but she’s also too afraid to look up at his face.
“Have a good swim, guppy?” he asks her, just like he always does. She knows the familiar question is meant to make her feel better, but instead she feels worse.
“I’m sorry I messed up your potion,” she tells Magnus’s ankles, fiddling with the ties on her robe.
“Oh sweetheart,” Magnus says, crouching down to try to see her under her hood. “You didn’t ruin anything, okay? Potions are tricky things sometimes, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be fixed.”
She finally looks up at him then, and his steady gaze is gentle. Sincere.
“I’ll show you,” he tells her, reaching out a hand.
Madzie’s fingers rub idly along the smooth surface of the rubber duck in her pocket. Part of her longs to be back in the tub, submerged and safe.
But Magnus is still waiting, his hand outstretched patiently. She takes it, and the warmth of her small hand enclosed in his is instantly calming.
Maybe there’s safety on land too, as long as Magnus is there.