When Mom began to lose her mind, I thought I’d just stand around and mind my own business like she tells me to do.
(The biggest goose is herding the others.)
(From the pond fly out some of the younger geese, crackers in their mouth.)
(Who fed them crackers? I didn’t feed them crackers.)
But Mom didn’t make it easy for me. She was standing outside our big blue hatchback and wailing like one of those witches that come out at Halloween, and she was holding onto this big steel sign, and the sign said No Parking Any Time, and we were parked in front of it anyway, and Mom kept feeling around the sign as if she was in love with it, and I just sat in the middle of the backseat and waited and wondered if she was ever going to get back inside.
Daddy had left earlier.
He was out there in the field by the restroom talking to this other lady. She looked pretty. She had this big coat on, even though Mom told me when I asked back when we were in Indiana that it was sixty-five outside. Maybe the lady gets cold at the slightest breeze. I felt sorry for her. Why doesn’t Mom go over and warm her up instead of that dumb sign? I thought. I didn’t say anything, though. No one ever listens to me.
All I’m good for, so my Daddy told me, and so my Mom told me, both on separate times, is to sit and look out and to keep to myself.
I can do that.
Outside there wasn’t much company to see Mom embarrass herself. Just a semi hauling this brand of soda I’d never heard of before. Fizzy Fury. The semi’s trailer had a sick red color painted all over it that made my stomach turn. It was like the color of the frog’s blood congealed when we had to cut open Miss Hops in biology last spring.
At last, Mom pulled herself away from the sign. She threw her shoulders up and then let them fall. Her eyes were closed. I wanted to go over and sock her in the stomach just for leaving me alone to see her make a fool of herself.
But Mom had locked the car. Daddy had, too, but Mom made it official. She has her own keys to the hatchback.
I’m still waiting. Mom and the woman and Daddy are talking, and they are waving their arms about like they’re trying to fly like the big fat Canada geese that waddle around in the pond right next to the restroom building, like with enough concentration they won’t feel anything anymore and will at last start being themselves. They’re sick of being together. Even Daddy and the pretty lady are.
No one wants to take care of the sulking brat in the backseat, after all. The geese will be my savior. They’re going to come in swooping ganders–that’s what I learned from biology what to call a flock of geese–and smash the glass and save me from this hatchback coffin. Then with their wings carrying me, they’ll take me out of Rest Area 371-A and as a first sign of their freedom they’ll dump all their business on the silly plotting people beneath us. Mom will get the cream-colored dress-shirt she kept telling Daddy to buy for her.
But, no, maybe not that far. Not that bad. Because while Daddy can go, I still feel somehow tied to Mom. A connection.
Here come the geese, their webbed feet splayed out on the big green grass.