Now, imagine you are a woman named Baucis, and you are old, and you became old on the Greek island Tyana with your husband, Philemon, who is also old. You are old together. You live modestly, you go on long walks and eat off the same plate. You don’t have kids, but you have a pet goose. You call him “Goose.” You are simple people. He is a very good goose. A guard goose. He squawks if trouble comes along. It never does. You are on a very small island in Greece, and you are simple people. One day, a Wednesday, you hear the Goose make his Goose noises and stand up so fast you knock over your only pail of milk. Your milk is watery, and your eyes are both milky blue. There’s no reason for anybody to be knocking on your door. But they are. One of you opens it slowly, the other picks up the pail. There are two people -- no, not people, strangers -- at your door. There are no strangers on Tyana, except that there are now, and they are at the door, scaring the Goose. You’re a bit scared as well, but you don’t squawk. You just say “Hello?” in your blue, milky voice. “Hello, we are strangers,” the strangers say, and they’re both a bit gold at the edges, wrong against the landscape. They are short and withered, men, overripe. You try not to hold it against them. You try not to blame them over the spilt milk. They ask for a place to stay. You blame them in your head, but out loud you say words like “Yes” and “Come in.” You lock Goose out. You let the one with the good beard take your seat, the one with the lesser your husband’s. You offer them the wine because the milk is all gone. It is bad wine, but these men are already raisining. Sighing, you hand over stale rounds of bread crust and watch them eat your breakfast with a bland, milky expression. They act old and stiff, but their eyes are blue and clear as pools. The sun sets through the hole in the wall, and the wine should be gone by now, but it’s not. You find that odd. Actually, it’s impossible. You realize this means the strangers eating your stale bread and stinking up your living room/bedroom/kitchen are Gods. You don’t know why the Gods have nothing better to do than eat your bread and scare your Goose, but you kick Phil awake anyways and go outside to reconvene with him and Goose. Family meeting. You’re scared that if you don’t give the Gods something bloodier than croutons, they’ll drink the last bits of milky sight from you and your husband’s eyes. And you are rather fond of the trees on your island. Your life is simple, but you don’t want the contents kicked out of the bucket carelessly. You lock eyes with Goose. He is already moving. You are impressed by Goose’s swift instincts, proud even. Phil lunges for Goose’s neck, but he has run inside, charging the Gods himself. You briefly wonder how Hercules would compare to your pet Goose. The one flying straight at Zeus if the taste of electric is anything to go by. The Gods are growing tall, strapping, golden, and Zeus picks Goose off his lap. “That won’t be necessary.” They look a bit bored. “Grab your things.” You have very few things and even less now that they’ve eaten your bread. You tuck Goose under your arm and then you’re ready to go. The bronzer one, the son, Hermes, Messenger to Hell keeps pace with you. He tells you that every other person in Tyana rejected them in their disguises. All except you. He says it like a compliment, but you don’t really blame your neighbors. Your feet are sore climbing to the mountain top. When you get to the top, you can see all of Tyana below. All of it is not a lot. It is a very simple island, especially to a God. You feel the lightning a second before it happens. You hold Goose tight. “What are you doing?” Your milky voice is swallowed up by the torrents of blue unleashed on the island below. Like the whole sky was a pail of milk, and now it is overrunning the little house, swallowing the little people. This time, you squawk. When it is over, and there is nothing left of your fellow islanders, the God of Heaven turns to you with a Mercury smile. You say, “Thank you,” because at least he didn’t eat your Goose, and that’s what you’re supposed to say. Phil keeps blinking and Hermes picks at his glowing, square nails. Where your cottage was is now a glowing marble temple. Its ivied walls shimmer with light from the flood that just snuffed out everyone you know. It feels like your turn to say something, so you ask if the two of you can be the guardians of the oh so glorious temple. Zeus says “Yes, you and your husband may guard it until the end of your life.” You nod and pretend you’d meant you and your husband. Hermes is already gone. Zeus, perhaps touched by Phil’s continued speechlessness, grants you another blessing: When one of you dies, you both will, so you shan’t ever be parted. You don’t say thank you this time, just squeeze Goose till he honks and the taste of Electricity leaves the air. You’re a bit in shock. You think God just promised to turn you into intertwined oak trees when your husband kicks the other bucket. You are annoyed because you’re still old and now you have to walk back down the mountain and keep Phil from choking on his own snores at night in your new temple. Maybe it has bread. Your name is Baucis, and you are unexceptional in every way. You were blessed by the Gods, but you’re too old to be impressed by sheer power. In your simple life, it’s the only story you have. It would make a good story to tell, around campfires, to kids. But you have no kids, and everyone else on your island is dead. Maybe you’ll light a fire in the temple, tell Goose about the parts of the story he missed. All the stale bread. I brought you all the way up here to tell you this: The Goose is the Hero of this story. It is a squawking pointless story.
Beeper Peddle is a writer and healer living on the East Coast. She lives with her partner and their beloved soul puppy. Beeper writes about sorrows, lies, and deep loves. When you read her work, you will dip down into her heart and end up in all manner of body parts. Should you find yourself reflected in these words, it is merely coincidence; however, it does not surprise her you share the same heart. Find her at bethpeddle.com and @beeperpeddle on Twitter and Instagram
Virginia Laurie is a senior at Washington and Lee University whose work has been published in Apricity, LandLocked, Panoply, Phantom Kangaroo, and The Merrimack Review.