Pennies from Heaven
by ken altabef
"Did I ever tell you about the time it rained frogs, right here in my back yard?"
Miriam watched her granddaughter's delicately penciled eyebrows twitch.
"No," answered Jenny. "No Grammy, I don't think so."
Damn. She knew that twitch. Jenny was trying to be kind. It was impossible she hadn't heard the story. "Yes, of course I've told you. I must have."
"No, I'd really like to hear it."
Liar, thought Miriam. But a well-meaning liar, trying to protect whatever was left of her ancient grandmother's pride. Miriam decided to go easy on Jenny for that sort of white lie. Having to sit through the story one more time would perhaps be sufficient punishment.
"It happened right here." Miriam motioned to the neatly trimmed yard beyond the garden table and chairs where they sat. "Right in our backyard, if you can believe it. My mother and I, your great-grandmother, rest her soul, had just come back from a walk. It was such a sunny day and we both had umbrellas. That's how it was in those days. Ladies went for walks in the summer with umbrellas. It was a different time."
For the hundredth time Jenny glanced down at her cell phone, jabbing at it with her thumb. A different time, all right.
Miriam had asked her not to bring the cell phone on her visits, or at least not to fiddle with it every five seconds. But Jenny would have none of that. If she couldn't bring the phone she wasn't coming, she made that quite clear. So Miriam had reluctantly relented to the childish blackmail of a new generation's addiction.
"So listen. We had just come into the yard when suddenly the sky darkened. A huge crack of thunder nearly knocked me down. No lightning, you understand, just the thunder. The noise made us look up, around the edges of our umbrellas. I remember mine was bright blue."
Jenny's phone beeped again and she glanced down and tapped out a reply, her fingers moving with blinding speed.
"Your boyfriend?" teased Miriam.
"No," said Jenny flatly. "My friend Cece posted a picture of her lunch--fish tacos."
"How exciting," said Miriam. Jenny held up the phone so she could see, but the screen was so small and her eyes weren't at all what they used to be. "Fish tacos. Whatever will they think up next?"
Jenny met her gaze, her cheeks blushing slightly. "Go on. I'm listening."
Miriam raised her eyes to the gray autumn sky, trying to recapture the moment. "The sky, it just opened up. We saw them coming down, all in a sheet, but couldn't even guess what they might be. When we saw they were going to hit, we put up our umbrellas again. Thump. Thumpp! The first few bounced off the dome of my umbrella, but soon they were hitting the ground all around us. And they were frogs--can you believe it! Frogs, coming down hard and fast. Spinning, squirming, dancing in the air. These weren't normal frogs, either. I'd never seen the like. They were such a bright yellow. And they each had eight little black eyes, just like a spider.
"When it was over my blue umbrella had turned purple with the muck. There were frogs splattered everywhere. That part was pretty horrible. The few left alive scampered away."
Jenny looked up. "Didn't catch any I suppose?"