Copyright 2023 by Brooklyn Judd
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia
up early felt like a sin, but taking a cold shower after all the
other girls had beaten me to the warm water was easily the greater of
two evils. When Iíd spent the earlier few months saving up to
go to summer camp, I hadnít quite imagined how much sweat,
dirt, and smoke would cling to my skin, or just how little hot water
the camp showers had available.
hung my towel over the edge of the wooden shower stall, humming
quietly, but paused with my hand on the cold metal of the shower
was something else humming, too. A quiet, insistent buzzing.
camp bathrooms had large, yellowed vinyl windows set into the roof,
letting the newborn sun stream in to light the building. And in one
of the windows, blazing a 2x6 square path, was a tiny green
math worked itself out quickly. It must have gotten in by accident,
but the only sun was coming from the skylights. The door was on the
shadowed side of the building, low and dark compared to the window.
How long had it been flying along the borders of the light, looking
for an escape that wasnít possible? Iíd heard once that
if a bird got stuck in a building, to turn off all the lights and
open a door so it would fly towards the light. However, the windows
werenít lights, and unless I had some heretofore
Apollo-like powers, I couldnít turn off the sun.
was only one thing to do.
climb from the sink counters to the top of the wooden stalls wasnít
difficult, but the wood beams above were mossy, slimed with years of
shower steam from all the camp attendants before me. My grip was
tenuous as I swung up, nails digging into the wood. I hesitated.
Leaving camp early because I cracked my head open on the cement
flooring below wasnít exactly how I wanted to conclude my stay.
hummingbird's flight seemed to be slowing, however. And hadnít
it said in one of my bird manuals at home that hummingbirds needed to
eat every ten or so minutes? Even if I remembered that factoid wrong,
I was sure that they did need to eat regularly to
their crazy metabolisms.
stood, wavering and setting one hand against the ceiling to balance
myself. I inched forward slowly, taking care to brace each foot
before moving the next. Maybe I should have worn shoes, I thought,
thinking of splinters. Once I was near enough it was clear I hadnít
been imagining it- the hummingbird was definitely slowing, its
geometric path faltering. A splash of deep purple glittered at its
never seen one this close before, and its size had me freezing. It
was so impossibly small. I swallowed thickly, reaching my hand out,
door clanged open. ďAnd so then I told him I didnít care,
but- Brooklyn?Ē It was Hadlie, with Cassieís older sister
I said awkwardly. ďHi.Ē
youíre hanging out in the bathroom showers why?Ē
She said slowly. ďCan you, uh, deal with that before we get
undressed for the showers then?Ē She eyed the stalls pointedly,
and I quickly realized her meaning. The wooden dividers didnít
do anything about hiding their contents from someone above.
I said, gathering my determination. I carefully formed my hand into a
loose, open claw, like the claw machines at an arcade. I didnít
want to squish it- itís little bones were probably like
reached out and snatched it into my hand. I blinked- I hadnít
expected it to be so easy, but it sagged against my fingers
instantly, putting up zero fight. It must have been exhausted.
clambered down. The descent was easier than the climb, and I hurried
outside, opening my fingers.
little bird just sat huddled against my palm, practically weightless,
and made no effort to move. My heartbeat picked up, anxiety racing.
Iíd been careful- Iíd barely touched it, honestly, and
certainly put no pressure against its body. I scanned the
mountainside. There, a little way up the hill, was a spray of deep
blue lupine flowers. I hiked my way over, carefully extending my hand
underneath. The bird paused for a moment, but then stretched its
lithe neck out to drink.
sat with it for a few minutes while it sipped and caught its breath.
Iíve wished many times since that I had a camera- it was so
beautiful, tiny, scale-like feathers glittering in the sun, the thin
slant of its beak, the dark pearl eyes. But maybe itís better
that I didnít have anything to distract me, and I got to have
that moment sitting on an Idaho mountainside amongst the flowers,
able to focus on nothing but the tiny quivering creature in my palm.
then it was gone, flitting away as quick as the wind.
stood, exhaling a shaky breath and wiping my sweaty hands against my
jeans. That was the most amazing thing that had ever happened to me.
That was the most-
caught my eye. A line stretched out the bathrooms now, girls lining
up with bright colored towels. I sighed, thinking of ice cold water,
but then looked back up the mountainside, where somewhere a little
bird was flitting about.
well. Worth it.
Judd recently graduated with her Bachelors of English Education and is
currently in her first year of teaching. When not explaining how to
structure an essay to high schoolers, she enjoys creative writing,
photography, and going on long hikes around the local Teton
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
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