Goats

Goats on a Roof

by

Ceri Savage

You get long sunsets in low cities, and Cordoba’s low, pushed down and rolled out like a piece of dough. 

 

Just sandy rooftops and the Mesquita belltower, which stands between two lemon trees from here, on an upturned barrel, 

 

as I admire the efforts of dirt-crusted fingerprints – neat, but for tufts of long grass on the edges.

 

As a kid, I kept slugs in a wheelbarrow, let them creep over cupped palms, tracked their slime-trails all morning until called in for tomato soup. 

 

I remember Mum’s voice well – high and clear, noticeable, like the tap of a teaspoon on a champagne flute. 

 

She wrote books, one published – Goats on a Roof. Nothing to do with goats. We’d go to the island every fall, drive from Nanaimo to Campbell River, and stop at Coombs, 

 

a country market where lumberjacks carved life-size bears in the front yard. On the roof of the market were goats. Three or four goats.

 

On the drive, Dad would say, A loonie to whoever sees the goats first. Me and Adam would fight for the middle seat, stretch to look through the windscreen. 

 

Adam would cover my mouth – I see them Dad! I saw them first. Dad would give us both a dollar. For goat feed.

 

Adam visited him last week, called me with a voice like a brimming pipe, said it was snowing outside, that Dad didn’t have the heating on. 

 

I rest elbows on muddy knees, watch the sun set behind a leaf, get out my phone, press home, never stop wanting to hear Mum’s voice on the other end.

 

Hello, slug, what a nice surprise.

Hey, Dad.

How’s that garden of yours?

 

I could tell him about the tomato vines; plump crimson marbles. Or the sanguinelli, how they float in the fountains, peels full of air pockets.

 

Instead, I sigh, The grass is too long.

 

You want to get yourself some sheep. Maybe a goat or two.

 

Dad goes quiet. I imagine him alone at our kitchen table, watching the fall of a shadow on the wall, or staring at the magnets on the fridge.

 

You know, your mum wrote a book about goats once.

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Ceri Savage is a Brit-born, Berlin-based writer with an undergraduate degree in English Literature from the University of Exeter. Her writing is published in the literary journal The FU Review as well as the short story collection A Flash of Silver-Green: Stories of The Nature of Cities. Ceri is the founder of Savage Edits, an editing business that provides self-publishing services to indie authors.