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HOW I DISCOVERED THE WORLD IS FLAT
It happened in the grocery store, by the broccoli. With everyone jostling to stay six feet apart that’s where I ended up. I hate broccoli. But I had to stand there a good five minutes, determining my next move. It felt like a giant twister game with the exception of everyone trying desperately not to touch.
I didn’t have a mask or gloves. Two old Italian women, in thick black shoes, inched in my direction. I moved back. That’s when I slipped.
I didn’t realize it because I was thinking about Nancy Aikenhead, who lived across the street from me when I was growing up, and how she told me her mom thought she liked broccoli which wasn’t true. What she liked was hiding the raw broccoli in her pockets and using them as trees in her dioramas. She pretended the seasons were changing when the tops turned yellow then brown. But it was tricky timing their removal. Sometimes wet spots spread beneath the trunks and she had to pretend it rained.
The end of the earth is not a complete drop off. That’s a misnomer. It’s more like how the bottom of a pool transitions from the shallow end to the deep. That’s why I didn’t yell. I thought my loss of balance had to do with this woman with her two kids who were fake coughing and saying now you have it. Now you have it. She looked beyond tired, but who knows, her children’s antics allowed her a wide berth in the vegetable aisle.
I know how it felt to slide off the world before I slid off the world because when I was real little it happened in Nancy Aikenhead’s backyard. I was in their pool holding on to the side, sliding my foot toward the deep end. Then Nancy’s Mom was holding me and I was coughing and crying and she rubbed my back until I finally started breathing normal. I sat on the deck the remainder of the afternoon, wrapped in a towel, even when it was no longer needed, watching the other kids. It’s so weird because those two boys were coughing on each other so fiercely and when I realized I wasn’t just slipping but really falling I waved to catch their mom’s attention. She was reaching over the cart to slap the closest one. But I know she saw me. Her eyes got suddenly big. But she turned. Headed straight toward the watermelons, pretending the world was round and everything just fine.
ROGER D’AGOSTIN is a writer living in Connecticut. His most recent work has appeared in Heavy Feather Review, The RavensPerch, and Passengers Journal. He is currently working on a book of short stories.