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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

I Was Clever Too

When I was 7 years old, my two brothers moved upstairs into what had been a rental apartment in our house, and I moved from my small improvised room at the end of our front porch into their room. "The boys' room." It was at least twice if not three times the size of my previous room, dark with faux wood paneling, and it had a closet. A large dark closet.

My mom helped me turn the room from a smelly, 'don't even want to know what that is in the corner' boy's room, into a girl's room, my room. It was not frilly, and the dark paneling remained, but there was the large white wicker bassinet stuffed with stuffed animals organized back to front, largest to smallest. There was a make shift bookcase with fairy tales, Wind in the Willows, and a Time Life series for kids. And for when I got older my mom's girlhood Nancy Drew collection and a few random favorites she had managed to keep. And the bed had a white bedspread and lots of pink and orange pillows.

At night, after kisses and wishes for sweet dreams, I would lay in bed, facing the closet and the one window that looked out at our neighbor's hedge. If I was laying flat in bed I could make out a few stars above the dark shape of that impenetrable boundary. If I stared at the closet, I inevitably starting thinking about the monster my older brothers kept telling me only came out after everyone was asleep. And that if I ever saw it, "Well," they said, "that will be the end of you." They were clever to leave the details of my demise to my imagination.

But I was clever too. So instead if looking at the dark interiors of the closet, I would force myself to look out the window, searching for a few stars and wondering how the other Heather was doing. The other Heather was my exact duplicate, living in an exact duplicate of my room, and house, and town and planet. She was far away, but whatever I felt, or thought, she felt and thought it too. If I had gone to bed warm from a bath, she had too. If I woke up and heard my parents fighting, she was crying too, for the same reason. And I knew that if I saw the monster, she would see it too. And that would make all the difference.

Green, White, YELLOW

The Tennis Ball