I almost killed us last night. I was cooking a batch of nectar for the hummingbird feeder (three parts water to one part sugar), but left the room and got distracted. When a smell like burnt marshmallows finally registered in my brain there was already a heavy, stinging fug in the hallway. Only then, as I ran cursing beneath it, did the smoke alarm go off.
The wife took the pan from the stovetop and set it outside in the soil of an empty flower box. It was full of black, pocked magma, a menacing and alien substance. We opened the windows, turned on the fans, wrapped the kids in their bathrobes and marched them onto the porch. My daughter, age six, thought nothing so exciting had ever happened before. She thought she might even see a shooting star.
We listened to the weird crackling of the lava in the pot, cooling in the night air. Ghost Cat – a neighbor’s white longhair that only appears at night – stepped out and looked in our direction. A black cat by day, a white cat by night? But our luck had held. Our precious flammable books and flammable furniture and flammable selves were unconsumed. Only the hummingbirds would suffer.