Crouched in perfect stillness beneath a toadstool, Tobin sniffed the air. Wet, with a faint metallic odor.
A storm was coming, a big one. Lightning for sure. Not a good day for a mouse to venture too far from the Great Burrow. Tobin lifted his nose to the breeze again, performing the junior weather scout procedures dutifully: Sniff the air. Search the air. Feel the air.
He didn’t even need all three steps today. The odor of rain was obvious, the clouds sat heaped in the sky like a row of giant bears, and as for feeling the air – his tan-and-black speckled fur was already clumped together from the humidity. For the third time that afternoon, Tobin rubbed his cheeks, fluffing out his fur and whiskers. After all, whiskers used properly are a fine-tuned sensory tool. Drooping whiskers can’t do their job.
The woman delivers our coffee. I pick up my cup and inhale the heavenly French roast. I blow on the surface. The first sip is like an orgasm. Okay, not quite, but given my love life lately, it’s close.
“Hmm. It’s a scary shadow, you say?”
“They’re all scary. Even if you make a nice one, like a kitten, it’ll turn into a man-eating tiger or something. It’s like they’re trying to be scary.”
“That makes sense.”
Morrigan was surprised. “Does it?”
“Shadows are shadows, Miss Crow.” His eyes reflected the moonlight. “They want to be dark.”
The house in Oxford was beautiful in the morning. A long rectangle of sunlight cut into my bedroom and rested on the duvet. The Islip canvas in the guestroom was a river in motion and Ana had placed it behind the bed, facing the window, so that it was hard to tell what was the effect of the pain and what was the real light in the room. I kicked off the cover and stretched into the warm day. For a moment I imagined the house was mine, and empty. I would take a book from the study and spend the morning in the garden. There would be no need to talk to anybody all day.
In stories, the number three is important.
Three woodcutter’s sons.
My story is the same, I guess.
Three fallen stars.
And three disasters.
Mama always says that disasters are like blessings – both of them come in threes. They follow on each other’s heels, the way starlight follows moonrise, so that you can’t untangle them even if you tried.
This is the story of how I proved her right.