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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Close Call

The girl rested. She had had the scare of her life and had been running for probably half an hour from what was almost her fate: almost caught for eternity, held fast with no hope of rescue.

It had happened in this way.

Exhausted the girl had come upon an abandoned cabin and had watched it for almost hour. She'd determined that it was empty, uninhabited, and had approached it cautiously. This was where she would spend the night.

The door swung open easily and the girl assessed the room's contents: a sturdy table and a chair or two in the middle; a scattering of wooden boxes around the perimeter, a fireplace against the wall opposite the door, and shelves along one wall that were filled with what Nimi would call clutter.

The floor was empty if one discounted the dust and grime. Sweeping the dust from an area near the table, the girl removed her jacket, folded it into a pillow, and was asleep almost before she laid down.

Minutes or hours later, the girl could not tell, she awoke to the sound of a voice in her ear.

"Wake up!"

Then other voices: "so brave . . . so small. She mustn't stay here."

"Wake up," the voice in her ear repeated. "You must leave. Now. Before the sun rises. Do not question. Just go."

One eye opened, and the girl found herself eye to eye with a small field mouse. Her intuition informed her that this small creature was telling the truth. So she did as she had been told, having learned that she fared better with the customs of this new world if she listened and obeyed.

Outside, the girl sat on a stump and listened as the mouse explained.

"If you are inside the cabin when the sun rises, the cabin will claim you for itself. You will become the clutter, the detritus you saw inside."

"Is that what all of the mess is from? Are those people trapped? What didn't you help them escape?" the girl questioned.

Rubbing a small pink boot in the soil, the mouse replied. "We heard you are the one, the one come to fulfill the legend."

As the sun's rays fell upon the cabin, the girl heard a cacophony of sounds: the sound of grief, groans, screams--all crying out for an impossible release. At that moment she ran for her life, from what almost could have been her fate.

Furthest Place