It was spring, and the Bird Carver and I were standing on the sidewalk where it dead-ended into the parking lot. He was ready to go home for the day, having already set his box of tools, along with the soldering iron, in the back of his van. The second and third rows of seats had been removed in preparation for his trip out of town.
The barn owl he’d completed rested in bubble wrap amongst other boxes. He said he could get $2500 for it, and I whistled, to which he nodded. I had to admit, when he’d glued the eyes in place and set the bird upright, the owl came to life. I’d flinched slightly, and my skin chilled a bit. The eyes were the type that seemed to follow you. The black pupils reflected the overhead light but nothing else, truly fitting for a predator.
“Your wife’s going to?” I asked as we stood together enjoying the afternoon sunshine.
“Oh, she can’t resist the feel of cash in her hands,” he said, rocking back on his heels and then forward again. “These craft shows give her a chance to talk nonstop.”
At that moment, a cocoa-colored Buick surged up the steep drive into the faculty lot and aimed for the free spot where we stood. He grabbed my arm and pulled me back protectively.
“Watch out for this crazy old hag in the Buick,” he warned in a distasteful tone. He caught my grin only moments before the driver waved at me. “Oh, please, please tell me that’s not your mother.”
“Um,” I said, snuffling in an attempt to deflate the laughter bubbling inside me.
Embarrassed, he turned from me and walked briskly to his van. Still grinning, I went to the Buick. My smile deepened my mother’s, even as her brows flicked down in question.
“He just called you an old hag for driving a Buick. He thinks he insulted me.”
She looked at the back of his van as she put her own car in reverse and then stomped on the brake so she could laugh - a loud, unrestrained, open-mouthed “Ha!” Still smiling, she pressed her hand over her lips and settled into a smile that showed teeth. With one more quick pop, she backed up the car and then headed down the drive.
I hadn’t heard her laugh like that in a long time.