Green & Blue
Two insects thin-limbed as grasshoppers with butterfly wings, one springtime green, one fairytale blue, flutter, flicker, land on your fingers in the sun-spilled kitchen. You stand beside the window with the insects on your fingers. They seem to sense the sun; they lift their heads to watch your sister outside, riding her bike.
Your dad is alive in this one: he puts his hand on your shoulder, looks out the window with you. He smiles at the insects (they’re nothing you’ve seen before in real life) when they disappear through the glass into the sky.
“Dad are you okay? Are you feeling better? We were so worried.” You lose your words, but that’s fine, for God’s sake take him in your arms, who knows when you’ll get another chance. Maybe he’s alive, he’s up and around but he still looks pale. When you hug him you have to bend down, he’s not a tall man. “Dad, I love you. I love you. Dad? Please don’t leave us again.”
He looks at you, his pale eyes quiver; he never says anything.
“Where’s the body?”
“He’s on the snowbank.”
“What position is it—”
“We’re not moving him. Hey—don’t move him!”
“What position is the body in?”
“He’s facedown. His face is down in the snow.”
“You have to turn the body over.”
“What, I don’t…”
“Somebody has to turn the body over immediately.”
“If he’s still alive he may suffocate.”
“Oh my Jesus.”
“Has anyone even checked to see if he’s alive?”
The Pocket Watch
“There’s no reason in the world that watch should’ve worked. You know how many times I wound that thing, tried to get it to start?”
“I don’t even know why I took it out of the safe. But I wound it and it started running immediately.”
“It’s like that thing with the clock. Why would it fall off the wall after twenty-five years? It wasn’t like there was a wind or anything.”
“That watch ran all day the day of the funeral.”
“And the next day it stopped and when I wound it, it didn’t start again.”
“It’s like Mom sensing someone on the edge of the bed, watching her sleep. She finally had to tell him, ‘I love you Honey, but it’s time for you to go. Just don’t forget we’re still down here, okay?’”
What They Mean
On your dad’s birthday your mom sees one over her back lawn. Darting, diving; disappearing behind the hedge, again returning. She sits with a glass of red wine, another, a third. As she watches the apple tree’s shadows lengthen, thrush, robins and sparrows sing. When you sit beside her she tells you about it: how it danced and dove; how it glistened, its wings reflecting the fading sunlight; its meaning, its message.
At the dinner before the performance the men are all in shirts and ties, the ladies in evening wear. Your table sits eight; you don’t know the other people there. You and your sister laugh, share inside jokes, sit close.
“I know what you two are up to,” your dad says.
“What are you saying?”
“I know why you’re laughing so much. You’re doing those drugs.”
The performance is a three-act play in a classic theatre: gold leaf, red velvet curtains, no popcorn or drinks allowed. In the final act a famous actress makes a cameo as God. When the Lord enters the stage the audience is ecstatic. Your dad’s pale eyes glisten with tears.
Dragonflies dart in and out of the sunlight, seem to air-dance along its edge. Green, purple, metallic blue, glassy hints as they catch the sun. You walk with your sister and your mom back down the pond trail to your car, which is also in the sun. You get in the car, drink more water, are in no hurry to leave. You roll down the windows and put on your dad’s favorite music. You sing along.
Timothy Boudreau’s recent work appears at Ellipsis, X‑R-A‑Y, Riggwelter and Retreat West. His collection Saturday Night and other Short Stories is available through Hobblebush Books. Find him on Twitter at @tcboudreau or at timothyboudreau.com.