• Vol. 09
  • Chapter 05

A hummingbird flew in at my window

And asked with its eyes what I wanted. I knew very well, from local country folklore, that when a hummingbird enters your house this way it should bring you a message of love. I’m not answering you, I said. You’re not a genie, you’re not here to grant wishes. What I want is not your business. Behave like the messenger you’re meant to be – tell me my love message and move on.

The trouble with hummingbirds is that they are ill-equipped to fulfil their reputed purpose. Once in a room, they will dart repeatedly at the ceiling, having forgotten where they came in, until they have exhausted themselves and have no breath left to live, let alone relay messages of love. If only they could pause in their fluttering, rest easy for a while, loiter in a calm and curious manner, they would spy daylight blazing through an open pane, or feel the tell-tale vibrancy of free air in their vanes.

I hurried to the basement and rummaged in the old, outdoor play-box. Battered tennis bats, bent frisbees, a ruby-decked skateboard. And a fishing net with a rusted hoop. That’ll do, I said, with the same skip of joy I felt at its first outing, when Mags scooped a shanny and flew across the sand to show me. By the time I returned to my kitchen, dreamy with memory, the bird was gone. Leaving a psychedelic hum of satisfaction in the drowsy afternoon breeze. I picked my phone up off a blurring list of woeful to-dos, which slithered to the floor as I breathed deep. When Mags finally answered with a question in her voice, I kept my tone light and casual. I don’t like to be too obvious. I think she understood.