Next month is our Writers' Group AGM, so there will be little time for reading out our contributions. The theme is a very short piece on either fantasy or science fiction. Neither of these appeals to me and they are both things I rarely read. So I am testing this piece on you to see what you think of it. Please be frank and tell me - I have three weeks to perfect it. So if it is rubbish please say so.
It happened one evening in 1974 in the garden of the house of Don Miguel in Santa Rosalia. Over the fence his neighbour, Don Pedrales, was mowing the grass, going up and down with measured tread, intent upon getting dark and light stripes which, at this time of the year - whilst waiting for the rains to come - were of a light and dark brown rather than the desired green.
Don Miguel did not care for such niceties and left his garden to its own devices. He preferred to sit outside in the late evening sun, a glass of good red wine in his hand and his sombrero tipped over his eyes to shade them from the sun.
He watched as the feather came spiralling down from the sky, lower and lower until it landed in his glass. He picked it up and looked carefully at it, glancing up into the clear sky to see what kind of exotic bird had shed it in such an unlikely place. But the sky was quite empty.
It was not any old feather. Think of the tail-spreading peacock and quadruple the effect. That is the kind of feather it was, curling back on itself and glittering with its richness.
Don Miguel laid the feather on the table and went inside to fetch himself some food to eat along with the last of his wine. When he returned the feather was in the wine glass again. Surprised, and not a little puzzled, Don Miguel took it out again and laid it on the table. Maybe he had been mistaken about taking it out of the wineglass in the first place.
Now, thirty five years, two wives and fourteen children later, that same feather lives on the mantelshelf in Don Miguel's house. He thinks of it as his good luck talisman (after all, both of his wives have been quite exceptional women). It lives in the same wineglass.
Sometimes he takes the feather out of the glass and lays it on the mantelshelf. But the moment he goes out of the room the feather returns to the glass. Don Miguel has tried peeping through the crack in the door in an effort to see the feather perform this magic trick. But it is as though the feather knows he is watching it and even after all these years Don Miguel has never seen the feather move.
He keeps the glass topped up with good red wine and has persuaded himself that that is why the feather stays with him. He hopes it will stay with him throughout his life now, for it brings him good fortune, even though it costs him a small fortune in wine.