birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

No Small Thing

I'm a bit of a small thing myself. Always at the front of the class picture, always toward the front or back, depending, when we were lined up by height. It takes heels to put me over 5 foot 3 and I'm not the sort to put on heels very often. When I was a small thing, I foreswore ever wanting a small thing, declaring I would be aunt, not mother, delight in spoiling the children of my siblings, entertaining them with tales of my world travels and being the sympathetic ear they could not expect of their parents.

But small things, always, have made their way into my heart and taken up habitation there. Where they reside. Always. the puppy my brother brought to wake me one six year old morning, a bundle of golden fut and pricked upright ears, left on our doorstep and our lives. She became resident n my growing up life, the dog I would roam woods and fields with, that I would watch lose herself in the love of nothing but the run, that slept curled at the foot of my bed. As a senior in high school I went off adventuring, came back a year alter and found her lame and halt and barely able to make it down the stairs to welcome me back. I spent one night with my belly curled around her tired spin, one arm draped over her warm fur and told my mother to take her to be put down.I left for class and when I came home there was a small hole in my heart. It's there still.

Living on my own for the first time out of college, I needed a small thing to keep me company. He was a tiny grey kitten who crawled under the back seat of my hand me down Buick Apollo on the way home from the animal shelter. i spent a long time coaxing him out. He came out, finally, and stayed for thirteen years with his fair share of war wounds and ice cream bowls and more than my fair share of 6 AM wake ups, with his paws pushing open my eyelids because it was time to eat, dammit. He was kept company by another small thing, from a different shelter, a brown curl of a soft eared hound puppy who thought the cat was fierce and large enough to scare the piss out of him, literally. They hung together and with me, through moves and heartbreak and poverty and pleasure, until that small grey cat could not really enough elderly fierceness to scare off a different dog, the one broke his neck and my heart. the small pup who guarded my spirits for seven years looked up at me one day and yelped and was dead by nightfall.

His death was no small thing on my emotional register, but it led me look for another small dog to fill the empty space where he used to settle and snooze. This one was long legged and soulful and a reliable shadow. With me in sickness and health when others would take a bunk. And he knew about the small thing that I carried inside me. He trailed me throughout my pregnancy, always ready to stand between me and any danger, always quick to catch the scent of fear. He was there to welcome the small thing that will always be the biggest thing in my life, the blue eyed wonder child who launched himself into my forever.

Byrd in a Barrel

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