Goose by Esmé DeVries
As I rounded a slight corner on the road, my mortal enemy, the goose, and his flight of frivolous friends flocked into front of my car. Please note that I’m not a man of revenge and made the godly choice to slam on the brakes, allowing my nemesis to live another day. He froze and I found myself terrified for my life because a bird who freezes in headlights is no bird at all. He stared at me with his wicked eyes and something slammed into my car.
I swear, this goose is literally Death. I lurched forward in my seat, narrowly avoiding the steering wheel with my face. The seat belt tightened around my chest and waist, snatching me back from the dashboard and succeeding in giving me whiplash. In one swift motion, I pulled the car off the road and silenced the radio, which was now playing “Apache” by The Sugarhill Gang. Appropriate.
I’d never been in a car accident before. I always thought the first one would be dramatic. I’d at least hoped I would bleed. Nothing too off-putting, a gentle slice across my forehead, small enough to prevent any long-lasting damage, but large enough that I would need to be tended to by a pretty nurse. Alas, all I had was a goose and some bozo who had hit me. Still, I would milk this for all it was worth.
“A bird who freezes in headlights is no bird at all.”
I tumbled out of the car in a theatrical fashion, like there was an airbag to slow my exit, and took note that the goose had vanished. Classic hit and run. He should do time for that. I walked to the back of the car and put my hands to my head to signify to the other driver that I was horrified by the mangled bumper. He got out of his car and dragged his hands over his face. Immediately, I was filled with a strange emotion, one I had never experienced before. Was this... pity? Ridiculous. That was unthinkable.
When he approached me, I could see that he too was interested in making the crash full of film worthy cliches.
“Are you alright?” he asked me. I didn’t respond, because I got the feeling he didn’t really care. “You were stopped in the middle of the road.” Yes, that I was.
“There was a goose,” I grumbled thickly. The man peeked over my shoulder and down the road, then drew his eyes back to me to raise his eyebrows in disbelief. “Well, it’s gone now! That’s the thing about birds. They tend to move.”
“It’s a goose.”
“So, why didn’t you hit it?”
“Hey, he owes me now!” I insisted, jabbing a finger in the man’s face before realizing how stupid I sounded. The man nodded slowly, thinking I was clearly disturbed, and looked around. He scanned the sky above us, the blue inching through the clouds, trying its best to get in on the conversation the world was having with the wind.
He then went on to fumble his way through a series of apologies and queries about my health as if our original conversation had never happened. He definitely thought I was crazy, and should be treated with care. I nodded along, assuring him I was perfectly fine, but really, I was taking note of the fact that he had neglected to turn down his radio. “Why Do I Do” by Rehab was blasting at full volume and this time I was sure I’d felt it: pity. Any man listening to that song has a lot to unpack with his therapist.
When the man stopped talking, he looked at me expectantly and I stared back at him, pursing my lips and scrunching my face up. I studied his face, making note of the black hair that was seeping into gray and the small cleft in his chin. At some point during our face off, he seemed to realize that I was a child who held onto the grudge from a dispute with a goose and had no earthly idea what to do in a situation like this. Perceptive is not a quality I would’ve pinned on him.