The morning sun had been up for hours, its rays more a diamond’s cold glitter than warming. Frost glistened on the shaded oak leaves at the back of her yard, where a murder of crows was having breakfast. They flung the acorns onto the street in showers, and waited for cars to drive over and crack them open. They’d been at it for weeks, a bumper crop of nuts.
She sat in her kitchen on a high stool at the counter, looking out the window over the sink and watching the crows. Coffee was still warm in her mug and she kept her hands wrapped around it, listening to the heater click and whirl. The sound of it lulled her mind back toward sleep, a floating place where memories rose, performed, and dissipated like watching a play through fog.
Her father walked through the haze as she remembered him best, when he was the prize at the bottom of the Cracker Jacks, when he was the tallest man she’d ever seen with his head skimming the clouds. Even then he limped and the sound of his uneven footfall echoed in her ears. “Don’t wear cheap shoes or you’ll ruin your feet,” he told her as he sat soaking his before scraping the corns and callouses with a razor blade.
Her neighbor’s rooster gave call, a little late she thought, but earlier than his usual 3PM alert. Because her house sat at the top of a small hill, her neighbors were fanned out around her at descending altitudes. The sound of their roosters, automotive backfires, and Chinese New Year firecrackers carried up, including her in all their public sounds, and some private moments she preferred to mute with NPR’s educated patter.
But those were sounds of other days. Today there were hungry crows and the frost melting off trees, a sound she could only imagine, the quietest trickle, the tiniest whoosh of evaporation.