Signs and Wonders
© 2004 Daniel V. Klein
It was a day fraught with portent, of signs unclear and ambiguous.
They had fought the night before over something meaningless, neither side giving ground, a simple misunderstanding turning slowly into a full-fledged shouting brouhaha. The cats had fled the room, seeking the relative silence of the basement, the storm outside no match for the storm upstairs. The original miscommunication long forgotten, both of them had vented their spleens, voicing the frustration of a long separation, until finally, agonizingly, they had come to some unsatisfying resolution. But at least she was still going to be on the train the next morning. At least he had gotten that concession, that compromise, that one small part of what the original phone call had been about. At least she was still coming to visit.
But the next morning, that cat had left him a headless rabbit cooling on the doormat. Was it a peace offering or was it a sign of some impending bloody emotional conflict? Getting the garage, the handle had once again fallen off the door, but this time he heard some nameless piece bouncing into the floor drain, gone forever to the realm of the sewer alligators and municipal waste. He'd been meaning to repair the door for some time, and now he had no excuse. But was the doorway a sign of the end to the old, or a new beginning?
After they had said goodbye and disconnected the call the night before, his pent up frustration had welled once more to the surface, and with one shattering "damn it", had sheared the phone off the wall. Staring in horror at the broken electronics, he knew that this was the start of trouble. There was no way to confirm her departure this morning, and he hoped that she wouldn't find a sign of her own in the unanswered phone.
The long drive to the train station was no comfort. It was pledge week on his favorite radio station, the DJs exhorting the listeners to give so that the station might continue to play the music that they loved. Pain for pleasure, repeated in a six-month cycle. And as he prepared to bank onto a familiar stretch of road, a new sign appeared: "Yield".
Further down the road he saw that the proselytizing billboard in front of the local church was now a tangled ruin. It was always an annoyance on his way to town, crying out on the evils of others, while at the same time smugly insinuating at the sanctity of the churchgoers. He'd heard about the accident on the news last night. A truck swerving in the rain to avoid a stray dog, skidding out of control onto the lawn of the church, the only injury that of the billboard. A sign from God on a sign for God? He liked the palindromic feel of that.
Later, standing on the platform as her train pulled into the station, he wondered once again if she'd even be on the train. No way to confirm, no way even to undo the angry events of last night and replace them with the love that he really felt.
What kind of augury was this? Unable to see through the mirrored windows, he scanned the debarking passengers, looking in vain for her face. But when she finally stepped off the train, a hesitant smile on her face, he saw her immediately. And just then, the sun broke through the clouds, and he knew: some omens are unequivocal.