All Granna’s favorite stories started with something falling out of the sky.
The night she met Granda, a shoe dropped right in front of her. It landed with a clunk and a thunk and, at first, she thought it was a brick. Granda said she screamed. Granna said she jumped five feet in the air and did a back flip to make her friends think she’d planned her acrobatics all along. When she looked up, Granda was looking down, almost as stunned as she was and guilty as a crab with his pincers raised. He apologized a thousand times, and she let him because he had a voice made for long, sweet speeches. Then she asked him why he was still up there when she and her friends were down there, headed into the city for a happy night.
Once, sitting on a beach, with her back to a flat face of stone, a fish dropped onto her knees. There was also a large amount of water from a wave that climbed over the rocks behind her and soaked her through. She caught the fish in both arms because it was too large to hold any other way, and she carried it home. Her father cooked it with spices from the roof, grilled it over an open fire, and shared it with the neighbors on either side in exchange for sweet bread, a zucchini the size of her forearm, and a strumming guitar. She fell asleep in the small yard behind her house, still smiling, and unwilling to stop listening to the laughter.
And then there was the day it rained jelly fish…
“Momma,” Dera’s mother said, stepping in from the kitchen when she heard Granna begin the story. She was wiping wood stain off her hands, slowly turning her hands lighter colors as she scrubbed with the wet towel. It was dark out, and she had taken extra hours in the workshop again. “I think that’s enough.”
Granna turned very slowly to face her, slid in her chair until she was perched just on the edge, so far sideways she would have sat backwards if the carved arm had allowed it. She met Mother’s eye, serious, and steady. “Veronni,” she said, a perfect echo of Mother’s chiding tone. “Have I ever lied to you?”
Mother rocked half a step back. She blinked. “I think you have, Momma,” she said slowly.
Granna didn’t move, and enunciated every word: “Am I lying to you now? It rained jelly fish.”
Mother hesitated again, then didn’t say anything at all.
“It started just after the morning haul, and then everyone on the island was running for cover,” Granna continued, satisfied. “We couldn’t run fast enough. I’ve never liked dragging jellies out of the water, but they never felt so heavy as when they were falling out of the clouds. And they stung. Oh, stars and waves and criets, we ran.”
Sera laughed, just a little, because Granna was grinning even though it sounded like a midnight horror story.
“And then it started to really rain,” Granna continued. “Water sliding all down the streets like it was a blanket and the sky was trying to tuck the cobblestones into bed. It lasted it all night and the next morning it poured. We were stuck inside for days, all holed up together, with just the things they’d had in their pockets when they left for work that morning. I never knew so many people carried cards! And we just stayed, locked in…”
Sera glanced up at Mother. She caught her smiling as she turned back toward the kitchen, rain pattering against the window behind her.