By Lorraine J. Anderson
Copyright 2011 L.J. Anderson
Just once --- just ONCE --- I’d like to keep one of my children.
I mean, that giant came into the room today, grabbed one of my children and went off muttering. I suppose he’ll lower her down to the ground and buy some supplies with her. Which wouldn’t be so hard except that he has to find somebody who’ll deal with a net that lowers down from a cloud with a note that Harmonia writes. But objections usually melt at the sight of my children.
And I can’t object. I literally can’t object. I’m a goose. I can’t speak human. Or giant.
I never used to be so unusual. I was just your common, everyday type of gosling. I was hatched out of a regular egg. I tumbled out, looked lovingly up at my Mom, and fell down.
But it wasn’t long before I got my sea and land legs. My brothers and sister were right with me. Every day, we went to the pond and fed; every night, we hid under the bushes and slept.
But I was curious.
“Mom, what’s that?”
“That’s the sky.”
“A blade of grass.”
“What’s a blade? What’s grass?”
She cocked her head to one side. “Um… a blade of grass is something we eat.”
“How do you know?”
Her eyes went vague. “I don’t know, honey.”
That didn’t stop me for long.
“That’s a cat tail.”
I peered around at my own tail. “What happened to the cat?”
“It’s just it’s name.”
“But I have a goose tail. Are they going to take my tail off?”
“I’ve never heard of a goose tail plant.” Mom ate a blade of grass.
“What’s a plant?”
And so on. I never heard my brothers and sister say a word except for telling me to shut up.
One day, Mom drove me away from the nest. I was sad for a while, then I forgot her.
You say, how can I remember her if I forgot her? I’m coming to that.
I wandered around for a while. One pond looked a lot like another. I saw some male geese, but they had already found somebody. I was wandering around on this little brackish pond, miserably looking up at the sky, when I saw something arcing down to me. It hit the pond with a splash, then sank to the bottom. I immediately bottom upped after it. It was shiny, I was curious. I dove and I dove and I brought it up with my beak… and promptly swallowed it.
Now I’d never find out what it was.
I found myself thinking back to the old pond. Funny. I had never thought of the old pond before. I actually found myself getting homesick. I took to the wing, and, though I had wandered a long time since then, I found the old pond with no problem. And there was my mother.
She looked me up and down.
“It’s…” I realized I never had a name. It was always me and you and the others. “I’m your daughter.”
She looked confused. Well, as confused as a goose could look. “But you’re so big.” I saw little heads peering around the grass. “Those are my daughters.”
“I’m your daughter.”
My Mom looked at me. “No, you’re not my daughter.”
“But… you’re my mother.” I knew this as well as I knew my own feathers. My own beak. My…
Mom walked away. Then something happened that never happened before.
A tear rang down my beak.
I realized, with a shock, I was no longer like the other geese. I could remember. I was educated. I was special, although I didn’t know it at the time. All I felt was that my Mom was leaving me and she didn’t even remember me. Well, fine. If she didn’t remember me, I didn’t have to remember her. I could find my own companions. But I was still crying as she slipped into the water with her latest gaggle of goslings. I winged away into the night.
I found myself over a castle. I almost did a somersault in the air. A castle? What was that? The name came to me like my memories – suddenly, and with a shock. Castle. Men lived in castles. I had never seen men, but suddenly I had a vision of long legs, stretched out torso, flat faces, and no wings. Bleh. And with the memory of men came the thought of danger. I flew higher as I saw a man point something at me… a bow and arrow, that was it. No, don’t go near castles. I looked down and honked at him, like a ha, ha, ha, you can’t get me…
Then I flew into a net.
What was a net doing up here, you ask?
The net pulled me up into a cloud, and a large ugly face was staring at me. “Goose,” it said.
Oh, this guy was an intellectual giant. I could tell. I honked defiantly at him.
“Goose has eggs.”
Well, I hadn’t yet, but I supposed it was a matter of time. In fact, I felt something rather uncomfortable in my nether regions, that I had to expel…
It was an egg. Looked rather grey to me, didn’t look healthy. Still, I could tell it was a boy…
“A golden egg.”
Golden egg? What was that? I peered at it closely. Still looked grey to me, but then I realized that I couldn’t see… colors, yes, that was it. Gold was a color.
“Gold is good.”
I supposed gold was good. With my new found intelligence, I realized that gold was a valuable currency. I honked at the giant.
“Must keep goose.”
Must keep goose! I honked in alarm. I couldn’t be kept. I couldn’t stay. I needed to find a male goose. (Why? Said my mind, but my hormones overrode them.) But it did no good. The giant grabbed the net and took off over the cloud.
My lower brain was panicking and I was struggling with the net; my upper brain was saying “What the hell?” How in the world could a giant be on a cloud? How could the cloud support the giant? Sure, it looked solid, but I had flown through clouds before, when they were down low enough to be a fog. Nothing solid in a cloud, unless one was stupid enough to run into a tree. Or a rock. Or a mountain. And I had come close enough to all of those to know.
He took me to a house. A hut, I supposed would be the better designation, but it had four or five rooms, all of which I saw upside down, swinging in a net. He swung me forward and back, and almost knocked me senseless banging into a wall. Finally, we found the right room, and he retrieved me out of the net. I escaped his hand and flew around the room.
“If you clip her wings, she won’t be able to fly,” said a calm female voice.
“Clip…wings? Cut off?”
“No, no, Gerard, darling. Just some of her feathers.”
Who the hell was talking? I finally figured out there was no exit to the room, and there was no way I was going to open the door with my beak. I settled on a counter and looked around the room. Who was talking? I didn’t see anything else living in the room. A bunch of geegaws. A fancy box. A couple of crowns. A harp with the statue of a lady.
The lady winked at me.
Aw, pinfeathers, more magic.
“Relax,” she said to me in goose. “It’s either this or he’s going to kill you.”
“How do you know he’s not keeping me for something else? Like dinner?”
“The golden egg on the counter.”
Oh. But -- “It’s just an egg.” My baby.
“No, my dear. It’s a golden egg. Gold is valuable to giants… and humans.”
“Valuable.” I pond
“You’re smart, for a goose.”
“You’re lively, for an inanimate object.” I sat back. “Magical, huh.”
“Yeah,” she said, with a shrug. She turned her attention back to the giant. “She’ll need a nest to lay her eggs.”
“Grass is all right.” I said.
“Straw will work.”
I wished I could frown. “Straw is all right. A bit itchy, though. But I guess I could work a little down in it, make it comfortable.”
“I get straw.”
I stared after him. “A genius, that one.”
“He could be worse. But you don’t want to see what he does to humans.”
I could imagine. I still didn’t know where the information was coming from, but now having an imagination was --- creepy. Having an imagination is overrated. I kept imagining the worse things that could happen, most of which ended up with me on a spit over a fire. Bleh.
“What’s your story?”
She shrugged. “I was human once. I wanted immortality and tried to force a wizard to give it to me by force. I got it,” she gestured around to her nether regions. “In a fashion. It took me a hundred years or so, but I finally realized that music helped.” She strummed the harp. “Unfortunately, I was locked in a cabinet after the wizard died for about fifty years. I can’t die and I can’t go mad, so I learned how to play.”
Goose by Lorraine J. Anderson / History & Fiction have rating 2.8 out of 5 / Based on17 votes