Eric Bosse ~ Statuary

On the way home from the phar­ma­cy, we dri­ve through the shad­ow of the leg­endary col­lege foot­ball sta­di­um. Our son twists in his car seat for a bet­ter view of the mas­sive bronze stat­ues of players—glorious, mus­cu­lar, hel­met­less young men, run­ning or throw­ing. It’s just past five in the evening, late November, a few days after a big home loss, anoth­er season’s cham­pi­onship hopes dashed.

How do you get on a stat­ue?” our son asks.

I brake a lit­tle for a curve in the road. “With a lad­der, I guess.”

No,” he says, “I mean how do you get to be on a stat­ue?”

I glance at him in the rearview. “On top of one?”

His curls bounce as he shakes his head. “What do you have to do to get them to make a stat­ue of you?”

I’m not sure,” I say.

A stu­dent in sweat­pants and a hood­ie steps down from the curb as we pass, a bit too soon for my com­fort. My wife doesn’t see the near miss. She’s asleep in the seat beside me, mouth open, head lolling for­ward. We’ve only been in the car for five min­utes. It’s a bad pain day, and her new pills are work­ing.

They make stat­ues for just about any­thing,” I say, “but you’d have to be real­ly good at some­thing, what­ev­er it is.”

Oh, well that’s easy,” he says.

We roll out of the stadium’s shad­ow, into the sun­shine, and I brake again for a red light. “I’m not so sure. Maybe you have to be the best in the world.”

What’s the eas­i­est way to get on a stat­ue?” He takes a bite of his choco­late-chip gra­nola bar.

Playing foot­ball, prob­a­bly.”

Well I’m not doing that,” he says.

Two young women in over­sized T-shirts and gym shorts pass us on the cross­walk, ges­tur­ing as they talk—though not to each oth­er. They’re on cell phones. The light changes. I press down on the gas.

What is easy for me?” our son asks. “What is some­thing I’m real­ly good at?”

Farting,” his sis­ter says from the seat beside his. She was lis­ten­ing to an audio­book on head­phones, but she can’t resist pok­ing fun. She wig­gles her eye­brows.

He snarls.

She blows him a kiss.

He wipes it from his face.

Teaching about ani­mals,” I say. “You know more than any­one I know.”

That’s it,” he says. “I’ll be the best at that. In fact, I think I already am.”

You could be.” I dri­ve on, past the engi­neer­ing build­ing and the tech­nol­o­gy cen­ter, toward the next stop­light.

Will you still be a pro­fes­sor when I’m in col­lege?”

Probably so.” I scan the road and push down thoughts of retire­ment and unpaid med­ical bills and my par­ents’ old age and our kids’ future tuition and the unfin­ished nov­el on my hard dri­ve.

What will you be teach­ing?” he asks.

Writing, most like­ly.”

Can’t you teach some­thing inter­est­ing? Can’t you teach a class about ani­mals? A spe­cial one, for me?”

Well, writ­ing about ani­mals, maybe.”

The next light turns red, and I stop too quick­ly. My wife slumps for­ward.

Yes,” our son says. “That’s it. I’ll take that class.”

It’s decid­ed,” I say. “I should get to work on the syl­labus.”

The turn sig­nal clicks. The stop­light blinks to green. As the car rounds into a left turn, my wife looks around.

Sorry,” she says.

Don’t apol­o­gize,” I say. “I’ve just agreed to teach a course about writ­ing about ani­mals.”

When I’m in col­lege,” our son explains. “And I’ll teach it, too. We can teach it togeth­er, but it will just be me on the stat­ue.”

Her hand brush­es my arm. Her fin­gers slide to my elbow then drop to the cen­ter con­sole.

I score a prime park­ing spot in front of the piz­za place we like. I switch my sun­glass­es for reg­u­lar glass­es. The kids click out of their seat­belts and slide from their doors. I move around them with my arms spread wide, stand­ing between them and any­one who might park in the dis­abil­i­ty spot beside us. When the kids have shuf­fled safe­ly onto the side­walk, I open the pas­sen­ger door to reawak­en their moth­er. She loves the piz­za here. And she’ll want to hear about the stat­ues con­ver­sa­tion. I’ll do my best to recre­ate the set­ting, the stat­ues, the passers­by, the whole con­ver­sa­tion. She will smile, and we’ll imag­ine bronze stat­ues of the four of us walk­ing hand in hand, remind­ing every­one we were here.

~

Eric Bosse is the author of Magnificent Mistakes, in more sens­es than one. His sto­ries have appeared in The Sun, Zoetrope, The Collagist, FRiGG, Wigleaf, Literary Orphans, Hobart, and New World Writing. He lives in Oklahoma with his wife and kids.