Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Good Joke

 by Tyler Bigney

 You led me by the hand into your house, where you wanted to show me your grandmother, who was almost dead, or at least dying. In the kitchen she smiled, and handed me a warm glass of orange juice. I reached out and took the glass, holding it firmly in my hands, glancing down at the pulp floating around the top like dead things. I closed my eyes and drank quickly, without breathing. When I finished you took my hand and led me outside to the backyard where you stopped short in front of scattered beds of roses.

“Old pets,” you said flatly.

“She plants rosebushes for old pets,” I asked.

“No,” you said, shaking your head. “They’re all buried around here.” You walked over and nudged one of the rosebushes with your toe. “This is my old cat. I buried her like ten years ago. She had feline leukemia.”

I didn’t know what to say, so I didn’t say anything. I stood, suffocating in my silence, as my eyes roamed around the backyard at all the heaps of dirt and rosebushes.

“She had a lot of cats,” I whispered.

You laughed. “Let’s go inside and have supper.”

I had a good joke come to me then, and I’m glad you looked away when you did, because if you had of seen me, you would have known what it was that I was going to say. But I looked down at the rosebushes and thought of sad things, like dead cats, and shut my mouth. 

Tyler Bigney is a writer from Nova Scotia, Canada. His short stories, poetry and travelogues appear in Poetry New Zealand, Underground Voices, Maverick, Nerve Cowboy, and Iodine, among others. His favorite word in the English language is mountain. He doesn't know why. 

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