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The Jacksons

Rose Jackson placed a bookmark carefully between the pages of her book, then laid the book down on the end table as she curled her legs underneath herself on the couch and leaned up against Andrew, who was stretched out, legs resting on the old tapestry-covered ottoman, reading a section of the Saturday paper. A rare, quiet Sunday afternoon. Rose gazed out of the window across the room where she could just see a pair of Canada geese struggling to make headway against a strong, cold north wind, the lead goose flapping in determined silence while the other followed noisily, its incessant honking audible right through the glass.

Rose snuggled up against her husband. “I know exactly what that goose is saying,” she said.

Andrew looked up. “Huh?” he said. “What goose?” He looked out of the window just as the geese finally disappeared from sight. “Oh,” he said. “Really? You speak goose?”

Rose chuckled. “Apparently I do,” she said. “I could tell by the tone of the honking. She was not a happy goose. ‘I told you it was too early to go north,’ she was saying, ‘but did you listen? Oh no, of course not. You just followed your infernal gander instincts instead of looking at the fact that EVERYTHING WAS STILL FROZEN and away you went and now here we are in the middle of a bloody snowstorm, and the only open water we’ve seen in two weeks was a water main break in Fargo, North Dakota! And God only knows where we are, because there’s no way to tell when the rivers are all still COVERED WITH SNOW!’” Rose shifted to look up at Andrew. “That’s what she was saying,” she said, “and you know it’s true.”

Andrew pondered that for moment. “Well, I know what the gander was thinking,” he said.

“Do you now?” said Rose. “You have EGSP, do you?”

“EGSP?” said Andrew. “What’s that?”

“Extra goose-sensory perception, obviously,” said Rose.

“I don’t need EGSP to know what he was thinking,” said Andrew. “He was thinking, ‘seriously? We geese mate for life? Well thank God it’s not a very long life. Maybe if I just keep flapping into this blizzard I can shorten it even more. And I am NOT LOST. At least I don’t think so. I mean you can’t be sure you’re lost if you don’t know where you are. And I have no idea where we are.’” Andrew folded his paper. “That’s what that gander was thinking,” he said, “and you know it’s true.”

“It IS true,” said Rose. She was silent for a moment. “Do you think we might be descended from geese?” she said.

Andrew raised an eyebrow. “That would explain the urge I get every October to flap my arms like a maniac and run off as fast as I can in a southerly direction. An urge I might add, that I feel less inclined to fight every year that goes by.”

“Exactly what I was thinking,” said Rose, “although I was thinking more about the whole ‘how do you know you’re lost if you don’t know where you are’ thing. Because that’s just an eerily human thing to say, don’t you think?”

“You mean eerily man-like,” said Andrew.

“Well, yeah,” said Rose.

“It is very man-like,” said Andrew. “But on the other hand, we could be getting the whole thing all wrong. I mean we don’t even know which was actually leading. Maybe it was the goose that was leading and the gander was shouting encouragement from the rear. Maybe he was saying ‘you GO girl! Keep flapping baby! A little blizzard never hurt anyone and I trust your instincts implicitly my dear even though it’s a little hard to see where we’re going! Because your instincts have never let us down! Except for that one time when we crashed into the CanWest building because you thought it was a lake… but I’m not counting that honey because with all the windows and whatnot, it DID look a little like a lake… so let’s just keep heading north baby because you are ALWAYS right!’”

Rose thought about that for a second. “You could be right,” she said. “Birds crash into the CanWest building all the time.”

There was a long pause while the two of them continued to gaze out the window.

“It’s ridiculous,” said Andrew.

“I would like to know who’s to blame,” said Rose.

“I blame our ancestors,” said Andrew. “They could have gone anywhere in the world and they chose to come here.”

Rose sighed. “We do this every year,” said Rose. “We revile our ancestors in April and then we forgive them in June.”

“Will we ever worship them, do you think?” said Andrew.

“It’ll be a hot day in January if we do,” said Rose. “So, no. Not a chance.”

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