Irene Lambert’s Wandering Goose

Photo of a porch goose

Welcome to Brighton Bits, short short stories about the people, places and things in and around the fictional village of Brighton, New Hampshire. Irene shows up in Summer’s Sweet Spot, but not her wandering goose.

The Wandering Goose, a short short story

When their first wedding anniversary drew near, Stan wanted to buy Irene something special to celebrate the event. What he lacked in funds, he made up with his ability to listen. Stan worked for the Department of Public Works, taking care of Brighton’s roads. One day, while working on a joint bridge project with the neighboring Stoneley DPW, he drove past Angel’s Lawn Décor and Gifts. He smiled and knew exactly what he’d get Irene.

On the day of their anniversary, he told her to close her eyes, then led her to the porch. When she opened her eyes, her gaze landed on a twenty-three-inch concrete goose, painted white with an orange beak and feet. Irene’s mouth went round, her hands folded on her heart and her eyes sparkled. “Just like the one on our porch growing up. How did you know?”

Pleased by her reaction, Stan said, “You might have mentioned it a time or two.”

Irene had a way with plants and her gardens bloomed under her touch. She also had an affinity for lawn art, and gnomes and angels and animals of all kinds joined the goose over the years. But the goose remained her favorite and occupied prime territory on the porch.

Irene loved to dress the goose for every occasion and had a collection of bonnets and aprons she kept in a basket near the door. The first of each month, she would change the goose’s outfit.

Somehow, the goose survived as two rambunctious boys grew into men. It survived snow and rain, heat and cold, always standing sentinel on Stan and Irene’s porch, bearing witness to the family’s life. When her paint faded, Irene freshened it, so that by the time the goose was thirty, she still looked young and fresh.

But one week after Stand died, Irene took her morning coffee out to the porch to find the goose had moved down a step. She frowned. “That’s strange.”

She shrugged. Maybe her granddaughter, visiting for the week, had moved it.

The next morning, the goose had moved to the flagstone walkway at the bottom of the three steps. Irene mentioned the move to her granddaughter, who insisted she hadn’t touched the goose.

Every morning, Irene would get up to find the goose had moved farther and farther away. Every morning, Irene would bring the goose back to the porch.

Soon, the goose managed to wander far enough away that Irene never knew who would bring her back. She’d visited many of the Main Street shops, all of Irene’s friends, even the local library. And around Thanksgiving, she’d made it as far as Candlewick Park.

The goose’s wanderings made Irene think that Stan was somehow behind the goose’s moves. He’d found a way to bring people to her every day so she wouldn’t feel so lonely.

But if anyone had asked the goose, she’d have told them that for far too long, she’d let other people’s wishes guide her life and that had kept her stuck on the porch. Stan’s death had shown her that she couldn’t let circumstances cement her in place.

Want more?

If you want to read more about Brighton, pick up a copy of Christmas by Candlelight and Christmas in Brighton or the new cozy mystery, Of Books and Bones. Look for Summer’s Sweet Spot coming soon. Or sign up for my newsletter.

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