Micro Fiction Contest 2018
Eddie waited till he finished high school to tell his parents that he wanted to become a goose. He couldn’t put into words their haunting grace, how he loved their scaled feet.
His room would be waiting for him once he had some sense, his father said. His mother gave him a new sweatshirt before closing the front door.
On the grime of the sidewalk he met a girl who rubbed charcoal over his eyes and down his neck, and sewed feathers onto his hoodie with delicate green nails.
Eddie learned the art of stillness from the geese: tucking his head in his own body’s cradle; resting his forehead on his knee and hiding from the sun in the crook of his arm.
He moved into the park and watched the geese sleep on the water like long-stemmed leaves. He dreamed of goose trees.
In the early hours he would wade in up to his chest and try to glide like a goose. He cut his leg on something sharp and metal under the murky water.
Three days later his calf was hot to touch, if he pushed on the cut he could see yellow folds of puss under the surface. It was hard to stay warm, or suddenly unbearably hot.
“I need to fly south,” Eddie said.
He hung out with the geese by the airport, by the highway, waiting for someone to pick him up, to acknowledge his hitch-hiking feathers, his feverish restlessness.
The static sound of geese wings overhead stung Eddie’s heart, like the vodka a tired street man poured onto his leg.
“Don’t let no one ground you, I can feel words like rocks in my feet, don’t let them stone you down. Can hardly move from this block,” He told Eddie.
A gosling with fishing wire wrapped around its webbed foot and knee started to follow Eddie around. Left behind by its family. Eddie worked at the fishing wire every day with his teeth and fingers. His gums ached, and his fingers were tender and scabbed. By the time he got the last of the line removed the leg had lost circulation. It dangled uselessly under the gosling’s yellow belly.
“What a pair we make.”
A man with dead black eyes and a navy suit offered to fly them south.
“They don’t check private planes. I can sneak you aboard, I have friends in high places,” and he mimed smoking a joint, but Eddie thought of geese soaring.
Flying low through clouds on contraband wings, Eddie felt elation. He had a rawness in his chest, a dryness like his heart was struggling to pump in air without gravity. When he tilted his head back he could feel a heaviness, like a pond pulling him down, and a sensation like fishing wires pulling him up by his ribs.
The whole world tingled.
The air felt like goose feathers.
He never came down.
Gabrielle Nelson is a writer and horse wrangler. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing from the College of Idaho. Her work has been featured in 101 Words magazine, Boise Weekly, and Writers in the Attic Water anthology.