Slope Day

Greg Tebbano

In the morning, the boys downstairs were already drinking Milwaukee’s Best and grilling sausage in the parking lot, a miracle of sorts, like, they’d never gotten up that early for class in four years and now here they were, the fucking middle managers and finance hacks and energy re-sellers of tomorrow high-fiving the dawn, and I should have just clam-dived back under the covers, but something compelled me, the fear that I would gaze out into the apartment complex parking lots of my thirties, my forties, and see no such revelry, only the ghost of an old man waiting for his dog to shake loose a shit, and next thing I knew, there I was in the still tender sun and grill smoke—the smell of it—and the boys were offering me a cold one and why not, I mean, just put an orange in it, they said, cause if it had an orange it was breakfast, just ask anyone, they said, ask Tony the Tiger, and I guess there were worse things than boozing before eight a.m. on the last day of finals, especially if you were already done, as I was, done with academia, done with boys and overdoing it, sitting down there in a robe and talking with these American Eagle Outfitter mannequins who had lived below us for a entire year, none of whose names I knew, but I could guess, couldn’t I, I mean, there had to be at least one Tommy in the bunch, will the real Tommy please stand up, I said, but they were all standing and asking, what was I going to do with my life now that I was a woman with a computer science degree, and maybe it was the first time anyone called me a woman, I don’t know, probably not, but maybe the first time I could remember, and the irony in that, these boys in their stretchy tank tops (the kind that came three to a pack at K-Mart that their mothers bought for them) calling me a woman, and I didn’t need their validation or did I, I wondered, explaining with a confidence that did not belong to me how com-sci was the future, my degree a rocket, and how I planned to land on a moon made of money—they laughed at this and I felt, in some small way, validated, so sure boys, I’d love another because isn’t there a shit ton of beer in Milwaukee, so if you’re the best that’s really saying something, and I should go to the slope with them later they were saying, that’s where everyone would be, the whole class of nineteen ninety-eight, but I made the mistake of asking if it was slippery, this slope, like, what else could it lead to, besides a sunburn and a hangover—a memory, said one of them, and wow, I wasn’t expecting that, a correct answer, and I sat down with my beer and cinched the top of my robe and one of the boys, Tommy I bet, put a sausage in a bun for me and peppers and onions on the sausage and handed it to me like the dean would hand over my degree, but this meant more somehow, I would remember it longer, the sausage skin tearing in my mouth, everything I’d learned disappearing in the salt of it, and how we sat cross-legged atop the concrete which by afternoon would become hot, fissured, unbearable, and then, like it was the beginning again, the very first day, we went around in a circle and said our names.


Greg Tebbano is employed as a grocery worker and, occasionally, as an artist. His fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Post Road, Meridian, Hobart, Contrary Magazine and Zone 3. He has received support from Vermont Studio Center and lives in upstate New York.