Peter J. Stavros
Those goddamn geese, as I pull into the parking lot and try to find a spot, towards the back, away from everything, as usual, but I can’t because those goddamn geese are everywhere, and they won’t budge, not one budge. They just stand there, so aloof, indifferent to this world, immune to my contempt. And they won’t budge, not one budge. Fuck those geese, fuck those goddamn geese, as I drive around the parking lot like an idiot, trying to find a spot, and at this point any spot will have to do because I’m going to be late as it is and I can’t be late, not for this. I can’t be late for this. I wouldn’t even be here but for you.
I find a spot sandwiched between two gargantuan pickup trucks, and you know how I feel about door dings. But fuck it, what else can I do? Those goddamn geese. I take a deep breath, and try to relax. I keep the radio on because I still listen to the radio because I can’t figure out that streaming shit and my CD player stopped working ten-thousand miles or so ago, during the road trip to Colorado when you came down with altitude sickness. “Landslide” is playing, the Smashing Pumpkins version, and I turn it up because this song always makes me cry, no matter who sings it, even Billy Corgan. And I’m trying to make myself cry, but I can’t, because I’m still too pissed at you.
Your mom looks good, as I finally make my way inside. She looks good considering, and I realize that everything today is going to have that caveat. Considering. She tells me she likes my hair “like that” and I don’t know what she means by “like that” because all I did was wash it then brush it back but whatever, and when she says “like that” she motions towards my face, both hands, without touching me, just hovering over my face as if there’s this invisible force field between us. She smells of lavender. Her eyes are tired. She asks me, nods at the front, if I want to go up and see you, and I sigh, and I lie and say maybe later. Maybe later. I’ve seen you enough. I’ve seen you in better days. And worse, not this worse, though from what I know about these things, they use a make-up artist to make you look better than you ever did. So that’s something I guess. Considering.
I take a seat at the back, away from everyone, as usual, in a pew that’s hard and wooden and cold, and has no give to it, and it releases a flood of memories of when I used to come here and sit and squirm and try to get comfortable, and I never could. Get comfortable. The pastor, in a singsong voice that verges on condescending, talks about forgiveness, but I’m not there yet, nowhere near, no way. So my mind wanders, and I drift off. Why didn’t you say something to me? How was I supposed to know? Those goddamn geese have left me in a bad mood, and I was already in a bad mood to begin with. Considering. And you’re up there at the front when there are a million other places you should be. Same with me.
Those goddamn geese, as I walk out when it’s over and avoid having to say too much to anyone, as usual, but especially considering, and try to find my car, and those goddamn geese are everywhere still, with their long green turds blanketing the parking lot like oblong landmines. And I just bought these shoes, and I was planning on returning them because they will only remind me of this. But of course I step in it, one foot, and the other foot, and it’s disconcertingly slippery, and I slide. Fuck those geese, fuck those goddamn geese, as I can see you laughing because you lived to laugh about this kind of shit. It makes me laugh too, and I crack up, lose it right then and there. Only I’m not laughing. I’m crying – thick and guttural and choking sobs, and I double over and I struggle to catch my breath. It doesn’t even seem like it’s coming from me. But it is. And I let it. I couldn’t stop it anyway. And I need it. So I let it. But I’m still pissed at you. Those goddamn geese.
About the Author: Peter J. Stavros is a writer in Louisville, Kentucky. His work has appeared in The Saturday Evening Post, The Boston Globe Magazine, Cheap Pop, Crack the Spine, Hypertext Magazine, Fiction Southeast and Juked, among others. He has also had plays produced across the country, including as part of the Festival of Ten at The College at Brockport – SUNY for which he won the Audience Choice award. More can be found at www.peterjstavros.com and follow on Twitter @PeterJStavros.