I promised to tell this story years upon years ago, and it’s shameful that I haven’t done so, because it’s such a short story.
It was early spring, but warm, and I was on my way to college (the first round) and had come off the interstate and was waiting on the traffic light at the bottom of the offramp. There was a straggly little tree to my left, but it was far and farther in the leafing process than any other tree, I noticed. But whoa! They were not leaves at all, but robins! And instead of one or a pair like you normally see in Ohio in the early spring, there were scads! I started counting them.
I’d got to fifteen or so when the blare of a car horn made me jump, and I scowled in my rearview before returning my attention to the light, which had changed. Sorry, jerk–I was busy counting robins! I thought, and the signal headed from my brain to my foot, to move from the brake to the accelerator, when a pale yellow Cadillac El Dorado blew that light doing about sixty. I barely registered that the driver was a cliched pimp, or at least someone who played one on TV, wearing a raked over hat with a feather and some kind of a coat with a fur collar.
That was not the nearest I ever came to death; I have also been saved by a book, by doctors, and by my own wits, but on that day in 1984, a flock of robins get the credit.