Once upon a time, there was a boy and a duck who loved each other very much. It is perhaps an unusual thing for a boy and a duck to love each other so, and there is a long story of how this came to pass- but that's not what matters here. This is the story of a boy, who made his home by the lake so he could be with the duck, and the duck who rested each night on his chest while he slept. The duck wished there was some power that could turn her into a girl, and this the boy wished as well, for as cute as little ducks are, "Quack quack quack" makes for poor conversation.
But the truth is, the boy did have the power to turn the duck into a girl, for he was descended from a long line of magical storytellers who could spin tales that, the moment they were spun, would become true. But the boy was afraid of this power, for once he set pen to page, anything could happen. The story invariably gained a life of its own, for that was, of course, part of the magic. Would there be a happy ending? A tragic ending? Or perhaps no ending at all? There was no way for the boy to know beforehand, and this is what frightened him so.
The boy tried to work up his courage to write, and the duck supported him as best she could, bringing him the finest feathers for his pens. Yet weeks and then months passed without the boy being able to write anything at all. Winter was drawing near, and the duck would soon have to leave, for winter, in this place, was quite harsh for a duck. The boy knew this, but still, he couldn't work up the courage to place his pen to page and discover what ending the ink had in store for him.
One night, cold and clear, the boy dreamt. In his dream, the duck was sitting out on the dock, gazing up at the stars, wishing and wishing that she could be more than just a duck. Surely, she thought, there's more to life for me than worms and paddling about? Surely, she thought, I can be more to him than that cold wet thing that sits on his chest every night?
And just as she thought this, her small duck eyes chanced upon a falling star, and lo, like a cliché seen in a hundred stories before, her wish was granted. She leapt up from the dock in joy, and ran on unsteady human legs as fast as she could, down along the dock, to the house of the boy. And then, just as she threw open the door, the boy awoke.
He was lying on his bed. There was a fire flickering in the hearth. The moon out his window cast a serene, silvery light. All was quiet. The grandfather clock by his writing desk chimed the hour. He sighed. It had been perfect: it had been the ending he desired. But, it had only been a dream, which had already begun to fade.
His dream was fading, like a fire flickering in a cold wind, but it was not gone. He could save it. In a blink, he was sitting before his writing desk, quill in hand, and before he could think, before he could ask himself "Can I do this? Can I really do this?" the ink was flowing onto the page. But the dream was disappearing faster than the boy could place the words onto paper. He worked his pen furiously across the page, he dare not let it stop, not while he could see it- feel it- the joy of his dream. The ink from the quill was almost spent. His hand was shaking. He didn't know how to end it. He looked at what he had wrote:
and the two of them lived hap
He couldn't go on. He couldn't end it. What had he been thinking? It was rubbish. Nonsense. The entire thing was rubbish. He put down his pen, grasped the page in both hands, and with a terrible crash, the door banged open. Suddenly there were cold, wet arms around him and a warm face pressing against his cheek.
"Don't do that, I think it's a good story!"
The boy was struck speechless. After a long moment, he found his voice:
"... Duck ..." he said, and then he screwed up his eyes and his cheeks flushed with embarrassment. The girl took the hint and went hunting for some clothes. As for those last few words of the ending, that tired old cliché, well, it turns out they weren't needed. Not everything needs to be said in words. There are somethings we just know to be true.