Monday, June 10, 2013

Tom Swift

Today, I was sitting in the living room with Zach and some friends when I heard a strange metallic thump in the laundry room. I got up to check if the wash cycle was done, and as I opened the door I heard it again. I assumed it was just the air conditioner making weird noises. 

When I realized that I couldn’t transfer the laundry to the dryer because my back is strained, I asked Zach to take care of it, and returned to the living room.

A second later, Zach rushed back in with a terrified look on his face. “Guys, there’s a—” He paused, holding up his hands like two wide-stretching talons. “—thing in the laundry room!”

We all rushed into the tiny concrete room, wondering what on earth he could mean. I glanced around before I spotted it, lying on the air conditioning unit— a tiny soot-colored bird with ridiculously big wings. “It’s a bird!” I exclaimed.

Zach shivered. “When I saw it splayed out against the wall, I thought it was a giant moth!” 

It was hardly bigger than some moths, with a body as long as my palm and wings about as long as my whole hand. It had a tiny beak, two large black eyes, and a hopeless, rather grumpy expression.

“Get a sheet,” I said, and within a couple minutes I had gently cupped the bird in a sheet and taken him outside. I place him on top of our trash can, still on the sheet, to let him rest. He closed his eyes, wiped the dryer lint off his face, and sat perfectly still, eyes closed, claws clutching the sheet. A few times we wondered if he had died and I had to look closely to see the slight rise and fall of his back.

We discovered he was a chimney swift, and I named him Tom. We sat on the front stoop next to him for a while, but at last decided to leave him alone. I checked on him about an hour later and found him at the base of the trash can. When I tried to pick him up, he flew straight up in the air, fluttered pathetically sideways a few yards, and crash-landed next to the neighbor’s house. I gently picked him up and placed him on the neighbor’s windowsill.

A few minutes later, I checked again and found him gone, but nowhere on the ground. I hope that he is now flying free and eating lots of mosquitoes to make up for his harrowing experience in the laundry room.

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