Coming And Going He was knocking on the door to Stan’s trailer, fist pounding, you know, because there was no way Stan wasn’t there, what with his rusted out Chevy in the parking space out front, no way he wasn’t sitting in the living room with his space heater fighting off that post-Christmas chill—this is what my dad said after he’d gone to Stan’s trailer to holler ‘cause Stan’s TV’s sound was making the aluminum siding of our trailer buzz and all—but as he was standing on the step to our neighbor’s trailer knocking and knocking he up and decided something just wasn’t right so he tested the handle and what do you know, it opened to Stan, sitting in the living room all right, but for what looked like days, congealed mac and cheese on a TV tray in front of him, head leaned back over the worn top cushion of the sofa so all my dad could see was that grisly five o’clock shadow like someone snoozing—only, my dad said, he wasn’t sleeping or watching TV, no, he wasn’t doing much of anything at all for three days, according to the coroner, meaning Christmas Eve he made himself some Kraft in a tarnished pot, scraped half of it into a bowl, cracked open a beer, and had a heart attack right there, a few bites of mac and cheese probably making their way down his throat; that’s how it goes in our sort of neighborhood, people move in and if you meet them, you meet them, if you don’t, you don’t, and sooner or later they leave one way or another.
Hillside Park Zoo
My mother took me to the zoo the day she told me that my father left us to marry his high school sweetheart. I was ten, and—never mind that I wasn’t being swung between the arms of my parents—I realized the zoo was lousy. Every pathway was cracked and trampled with gum, there wasn’t even a reptile house, the flamingos were gray. But my mother loved it, and she stood in front of the lions for nearly an hour, cooing to the sleeping beasts.
Years later, on the day I finally moved out on my own, my mother confessed that my father never had another woman. She’d driven him away.
I haven’t been to a zoo since that trip, but from my first apartment I could hear the lions roaring at night, and I roared with them.
Yesterday I went by that roadside memorial, the one that sprung up just off the gravel road along the creek where that little girl had been walking to meet her ma at the fruit stand but was struck by some SUV from out of state instead. Flowers and candles have been there maybe six months and people at the town meetings have been talking about clearing it all out before winter sets in. I don’t give these town matters much thought usually, but it was a foggy morning and I was walking along looking for a tree to piss on after my car ran out of juice and I just knew there was no way I was going to make it to work at the shop on time. I almost walked by the thing, caught up in my own sort of pity. But then I noticed this little blue teddy bear with a washed out bowtie around his neck. He was on his back blowing into the road, so I picked him up, looked into his shiny black eyes, and perched him on the left arm of the plywood cross. That’s when I saw all the stumps of wax from candles burned too long. Right in the middle of them was a new white one, still burning. My mind jumped to the girl’s mother, out there each morning at the crack of dawn, lighting that candle and ready with a new one should the old one burn out. I hope she came by again this morning and noticed the bear. I hope she knows she isn’t the only one looking after her daughter.
About the Author: Becca Pollock is a Philly native completing her BFA in Writing, Literature, & Publishing at Emerson College in Boston. When she isn't working on her thesis, she tweets about dogs, food, and book design @peccabollock. Her writing has appeared in Commas & Colons and Specter Magazine. She is bad at bar trivia.