Today I’m looking back at a scene from Salvation, book 5 in my Firsts and Forever Series. This is Trevor and Vincent’s story, and this scene happens very early on in their relationship, when they’re still getting to know each other. It’s a bit of comic relief, and it’s based on something that actually happened to me. More about that at the end of this post!
In this scene, Trevor has just arrived at a beautiful house on the California coast, where a friend is getting married in a couple days. His love interest, Vincent Dombruso, is outside working on the landscaping, and Trevor decides to go out and say hello. But the smooth entrance he’s hoping for is disrupted by one tiny, pointy little bird. J
I sighed and put the phone in my pocket, then went back through the house and stepped out the French doors. Vincent’s back was still to me. He wore nothing but a pair of khaki shorts and white sneakers, his olive skin glistening with sweat, the powerful muscles in his back and shoulders working as he trimmed a vine. Two thin cords ran from earbuds to what was probably an iPod in his pocket. He had no idea I was there, and since he was holding a huge set of clippers I thought it was probably best not to startle him.
As I waited for him to notice me, I took in my surroundings. The huge, perfectly manicured lawn was surrounded by colorful flowerbeds full of exotic-looking blooms, mostly in shades of red, yellow and orange. I recognized clusters of birds of paradise and huge stands of bougainvilleas, but not much else, since plants really weren’t my area of expertise. The garden ended abruptly, giving way to a sheer cliff face and an unobstructed view of the Pacific, which was maybe sixty feet below. It was all just stunningly beautiful and tranquil too, thanks to the steady sound of waves breaking in the little cove below and the almost alien whir of hummingbirds darting among the flowers.
Suddenly, one of the tiny hummingbirds appeared a few feet in front of me, its glassy little eyes staring at me as its wings beat so quickly they were a blur. It was cute, until the thing decided to get a closer look at me. Hummingbirds move incredibly fast, so in a split-second it was right in my face, that long, needle-like beak inches from my eye.
That freaked me out a bit and I yelled reflexively, waving my hands to try to chase it off as I dodged to my right. This didn’t deter the bird, though. Just the opposite. It actually became even more interested in me and swooped in for another close look. Okay, no! I yelled again and started bobbing and weaving around the lawn, swinging my arms wildly. I really didn’t want to smack the bird away, but at the same time I wasn’t about to stand still while it figured out that my eyeball wasn’t actually full of nectar.
For some reason, part of my brain was yelling at me to stop, drop, and roll. I don’t know why. The hummingbird wasn’t on fire or anything. But I still went with it, flopping down on the grass and rolling back and forth like a crazy person. The tiny hummingbird dive-bombed me a couple times, its distinctive hum buzzing in my ears as I yelled, “No, quit it! Get away!”
A shadow fell across me and the bird took off like a shot. I stopped rolling and looked up at Vincent as I said, “Please tell me you saw the hummingbird.”
“I did. What were you and he doing, exactly?”
“Well, I assume he was trying to suck the fluid from my eyeball, and I was trying to prevent that from happening,” I told him as I sat up. The grass had apparently just been mowed and watered, judging by the fact that I was totally green with grass stains and lawn clippings, in addition to being completely soaked.
Vincent grinned, just a little, and held his hand out to me. When I took it, he hoisted me to my feet. “Aside from antagonizing the local wildlife, what are you doing here, Trevor?”
“Well, it’s like this. Apparently, your grandmother watched a few too many Disney movies and fancies herself a bit of a fairy godmother. She bought me a new wardrobe, loaded me up in a carriage – in the form of a rented town car – and sent me off after Prince Charming.” I knit my brows and said, “Well crap, I suppose in this analogy I’m Cinderella. I should have thought that through before I started down the fairy tale path.”
So, here’s what inspired that story. For a while after graduate school, I lived in a nice little apartment complex in Sacramento, California. It consisted of several two-story buildings arranged in a parklike setting with trees and flowers and little paths running between them.
There was just one path to get to my apartment from the parking lot. And one day, I found that path guarded by a little blackbird. It swooped and dove at me when I walked by, and I thought, “Ah, okay, I bet she’s protecting her nest.” No biggie. I ran past and made it to my apartment.
But the bird attack continued. Every time I walked on that path, I had to duck and bob and weave to try to avoid the tiny dive-bomber. This went on for weeks! And here’s the thing: I’d stand back and watch as dozens of other people used the path and went by the bird’s tree, and nothing would happen! They were able to pass without incident, but as soon as I appeared, look out! The thing would wait for me, and dive at me every single time I walked to or from my apartment! My neighbors would stop and stare, and they’d often ask me, “What did you do to piss it off?” Noooooothing!
It became a running joke with my coworkers. One of them bought me a big, plastic caveman club so I could fight off the bird. I considered carrying a tennis racket (and no, I never harmed a feather on its empty little head, but I did fantasize about it)!
Then one day, as abruptly as it began, the dive-bombing stopped. I don’t know what ever became of that psychotic little bird, or why it finally gave up its rampage. I also have no idea why it singled me out in the first place. I never forgot it though, and many years later, it found its way into one of my books. I decided to make it a hummingbird, because I’m dumb enough to have a hummingbird feeder right beside my front door, and the sight and sound of one of those little things flying at you with that long, pointy beak is just this side of terrifying. But unlike that unhinged bird in Sacramento, the hummingbirds have been smart enough to identify me as a friend, not a foe.