The story begins with Vernon Jackson purchasing a flock of ducks to place on the pond on the land he has bought. His wife would prefer he puts a house there but instead it's a mobile home. He has no reason to think ducks something his wife wants and in fact, he seems to know little about her despite their long marriage. She is sick now and he thinks they can sit outside at night and watch their ducks, wings cut so they can't escape.
The story traces their meeting at a softball game where Vernon is the star pitcher. Pitching seems to be his one skill and it is enough to attract the young woman. But he has never bothered to get to know his wife, which she realizes late in their marriage. Yet, he treats her well, if without much thought, and it is hard to think ill of him.
It is hard not to think that many marriages were like this one. They are no children and this was a further impediment to closeness since they can't seem to talk about it. There is no doubt Vernon loves his wife and little doubt she does not love him but is stuck in a marriage that just happened to her.
I have read countless stories like this over the years. All of Earley's stories could be novels and yet I think he says all that he wants to say in under 8000 words. I also read his novel JIM, THE BOY, which was excellent.