I was on the sofa when my cat climbed in the window, sat down on the rag mat in front of me, and opened her mouth. A fat grasshopper jumped out and away across the plank floorboards. Right back out the window.
Five in the morning, I woke myself up with a scream that roused the rest of the house, too. No bad dreams, no reason, just this top-of-the-lungs scream. We all went around looking over our shoulders for a week. I usually tell it like this: “I woke up because someone was screaming, and when I woke up, it was me.”
September, there was this swarm of ladybugs at my parents’ house. There were hundreds of them, crawling all over the front windows and back porch. My mother kept saying that ladybugs mean wishes. You’d open the screen door and by the time you’d shut it, there’d be dozens crawling inside. So we all made wishes that month. You couldn’t leave the house or get back in without killing some of them.
We were sitting on an outcropping of rocks on the edge of a cliff, overlooking the ocean. A hundred feet in front of us there was a tree that had grown up out of the side of the cliff — it looked dead, like it had been hit by lightning. Perched on the very top of this tree was this bird, I don’t know what kind. It had a long beak and wings that, when unfurled, were bright orange. We were sitting there watching it preen when another bird just like it flew over and joined it. The bird we’d been watching, I guess it was a male, promptly jumped on the second bird’s back, and they mated. When the male bird jumped off, the female’s back was rumpled and a little feather was sticking off her. I pointed this out and as I was talking, a rising wind caught the feather and lifted it away. We watched as the wind carried the feather into the sky. Then, in a slow curve, the feather fell right into my hand. Not a word of this is a lie.
I cracked open a fortune cookie, pulled out the slip of paper inside, and saw that it was blank. Both sides. I double-checked. This can’t be a good sign, I thought. “This can’t be a good sign,” I said to my dinner companions. Nothing bad happened. I mean, nothing bad has happened yet.