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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Scarred, not Scarred

We’ve all got scars; I’m just like you. Parents’ divorce. Cruel brother. Ugly breakup. That time I put my curling iron down on my leg while I sat cross-legged curling my hair. That other time I hit the same leg, shin bone, with a baseball bat. A scar on my hand from being burned by cheese grits, another from being snagged by a filing cabinet in a brief job as a secretary. Scars on my hands from where I had warts frozen, which means burned, off my hands.

I have a tiny scar on my eyelid that no one would see if I didn’t show them. It could have changed the course of my emotions, but for some reason, it left not a trace of a scar on my heart.

I was sitting by the fireplace flanked by my two dogs: Abagail and Snoopy. Snoopy was Abba’s puppy, fathered by the neighbor’s dog Calhoun the beagle, or was it the rangy German Shepherd that we’d seen lurking?

I might have been four.

All of a sudden Snoopy reached over and bit me on the eye. Next thing I remember I was lying on a bed at the doctor’s office. He put a cloth over my face with a hole cut out for my eye. I watched him coming at my eyelid with the needle but remarkably, it didn’t hurt.

When I got home, Snoopy was gone. My dad told me he’d run off, but even at age four I knew he’d gone to the vet to get “put to sleep,” and even though I was and still am pathologically tender-hearted, I wasn’t torn up about it. It was so matter of fact. I knew he would be gone, and I understood perfectly why. Goodbye Snoopy. Abba went on to remain the sweetest dog ever.

I have a tiny scar from that dog bite on my eyelid. I have another small scar on my upper lip from Maggie, the neighbor’s Dalmatian, who I knew was mean but I sat beside her under the mailbox and patted her head anyway.

Dogs are my favorite animal in the world. I’ve never not had a dog. We have three now, and not a day goes by that I don’t thank the stars above for packing the elements right for just such a perfect companion animal for humans, and I marvel that we have these three beasts who wander in and out of our house, sit in our chairs, sleep in our bed, eat our food, kiss our faces, ride in our cars, and insert themselves into our every inch of life. I love them so much.

Mr. Fry and the Good Times

Commonplace Magic