“Does anybody remember the way?” asked Lorely.
“Mmm...” hesitated Lilly.
“Mmmm... maybe... we should go that way.” said his brother.
“What are you talking about, Lolly? I’m sure we must go this other way” disagreed Lally.
Lorelly, who was watching the scene, wetted her bandana and tied it tightly around her head: that indecision was giving her a headache.
“Are you telling me none of you paid attention to the way we took to come here? What were you thinking about?”
“The future, Mom, my extraordinary future...which disappeared at the blink of an eye.” said Lally, tilting her head down.
“And you, the duck family males?” insisted Lorely.
“I was busy trying to stand on my feet, Mom, what else!” replied Lilly.
“And I was busy trying to hold him up, Mom, what else!” said Lolly.
“And you, Mom, what were you thinking about?” asked her three ducklings in unison.
Lorely kept silent, and hesitated before answering.
“So...? What was on your mind?” they insisted.
“Ok, I’ll tell you. I was thinking of our Lake! When I went back to say goodbye, he did not even answer me. He was so sad...”
“Then he’ll be very happy to see us back! reassured her Lally. “Now the important thing is to find our way back.”
The duck family, unable to rely on any support, gathered their courage and started their journey back.
When they left the sun was shining, but at dusk they were lost.
All roads looked the same: every corner, every house, every garden - they could not tell where they were. They were so confused, nervous, disoriented that they risked to be run over by a car that stopped just in time.
The driver rushed out of the car to make sure everybody was ok, while from inside the car a mass of blond curls was watching the scene.
“Daddy, Daddy!” said a voice “I know them! They are the duck family that lives in the park!”
“And you must be Leo!” said Lorely.
“Yes, it’s me, Lorely! What are you doing out here? Why don’t you go back to your small lake?”
“That’s what we're trying to do, Leo, if only we could remember the way...”.
“Oh I see, you’re lost! Don’t worry, my father and I will take you back home, won’t we Dad?” asked the little boy in an imploring voice, and his Dad could not but accept.
So, escorted again, the four ducks were able to find their way back to the Lake following the car with little Leo. And as soon as they arrived, they ran to the shore.
“Lake, oh Lake, we’re here! We’re back!” shouted Lorely.
And out came his voice: “Huff... Puff...” he grumbled, “so you're back!”.
“Roselle , they’re back” said Rosette, with a very sad face. “Yes, yes, yes and yes! We’re back, quack quack quack!” honked the ducks.
Lolly dived into the water, Lally began to caress every single flower, Lilly started to run all around, while Lorely kept staring at her Lake.
“I'm glad you're back, let me hug you!” sighed the Lake.
And the ducks jumped in the water.
The trees shook their branches cheerfully. The story is near the end, but with a very happy ending.
Illustrations of Chiara Tomati