Her name was Margot, and she was standing in the center of my pond. She was wearing a dazzling one-piece canary yellow swimsuit that barely contained her. I wore sunglasses when I approached so she wouldn’t see where my eyes were roaming, although I’m sure she guessed.

Margot was five years older than I was, but she looked younger. Lately I’ve been thinking that everyone looks younger than I do. She was my neighbor. I inherited her when my father and I moved into the house shortly after I came into my money. The house was located on the wrong side of the street. I didn’t know that until after I had made an offer on it. I thought it was located in St. Anthony Park, one of the more fashionable neighborhoods of St. Paul. But because I was on the north side of Hoyt Avenue instead of the south, I actually lived in Falcon Heights. I had inadvertently moved to the suburbs, a fact I still refuse to admit publicly. I’m a St. Paul boy at heart, and whenever anyone asks, I say that’s where I live. Margot insists I should get over it. That’s easy for her to say. She’s from Minneapolis.


“I’ve been thinking,” she said when I reached the edge of the pond.

“What have you been thinking?”

“Oh, many things,” she cooed, arching her dark eyebrows at me. “But mostly I’ve been thinking that we need fish.”


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“I think the ducks would like to eat fish when they return.”

“What kind of fish?”

“I don’t know. What kind of fish do ducks eat?”

“I don’t even know that they eat fish.”

“Call that guy you know, the one with the DNR.”

“Why should I call? It’s your idea.”

“It’s your pond.”

“Since when?”

True, the pond was built in my backyard, but the far shore bordered Margot’s property and she had long ago asserted at least partial ownership rights, especially after the ducks arrived. There were only two mallards at first. I called them Hepburn and Tracy. Only the thing about ducks they breed. Soon there were five additional ducklings. I named them Bobby, Shelby, Victoria, and Katie after the Dunston family and Maureen after my mother and fed them dry corn from a plastic ice cream bucket. Margot fed them bread and crackers. Soon they would waddle up to each of us without fear, would even sit quietly next to us when we stretched out on lounge chairs, catching rays—but they liked me best.

All the mallards flew off in late September, and I was afraid that would be the last we’d see of them. My friend with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said not to worry. If they survived the trip south, the ducks would probably return in the spring to establish new nests. Only it was May and still no sign of them.

I used to hunt ducks with my dad. I can’t imagine doing it now.

“Goldfish,” Margot said.

“What about them?”

“At the Japanese garden exhibit at the Como Conservatory, they have goldfish.”

“Do ducks eat goldfish?”

“I don’t know if they eat goldfish. I’m just saying goldfish is something to think about. Big goldfish. They look good swimming around. They looked very good swimming around at the Japanese garden exhibit at the Como Conservatory.”

“I’ve never been to the Japanese garden exhibit at the Como Conservatory.”

“You should go. You should look at the goldfish.”

“Margot, why are you standing in the pond?”

Margot tapped the top of the fountain that circulated the pond water. “When are you going to turn this on?”

“I don’t know.”

“You should turn it on. Make sure it works.”

“I’ll do that, but first—”

“When are you going to turn it on?”

“In a minute. Margot?”


“Why are you standing …”

“In the pond? I wanted to see how deep the water was.”

I had cleaned the pond and filled it with a garden hose two days earlier. It was now at its ideal level, which was midway between Margot’s knees and the bright material of her swimsuit. Margot must have known I was admiring her thighs, because she splashed water at me.

“See anything you like?”

“That’s a nice suit you’re almost wearing.”

“This old thing?”

“I have handkerchiefs that have more material.”

“My ex-husband gave it to me.”

“Which one?” There were three that I knew of.

“Who keeps track?”

“I’ll turn on the fountain.”



“I’ve been throwing myself at you at least twice a month since you moved in. How come you haven’t caught me yet?”

“Do you want an honest answer?”

“I don’t know. Will it hurt?”

I crouched at the edge of the pond and splashed gently. The water was surprisingly warm for May.

“It’s my father,” I told her.

“What about him?”

“Remember when he built the pond, dug it out, put in the fountain?”


“You helped him and brought him lemonade.”

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