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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.


Even at the somewhat advanced age of 73, I still have anxiety dreams about my years as a college and university student. It is a common one among former students. I awake one morning realizing I have a final exam in an hour for a class I was enrolled in. Certainly, I didn’t just neglect my academic obligation to participate in the course. There is no way I can pass the exam, let alone the class. This oversight is going to ruin my GPA. Can I drop it at this late hour? Laughable though it may be in daylight, the dream is heart-pounding at 3 a.m.

The most vivid anxiety dream of my life, however, visited me in my teens. I don’t have this dream anymore, but I remember, not just the situation, but detail after detail:
I am dressing for church but every time I pull a garment out of my small closet and put it on, I discover it cannot be worn. There’s a huge gravy stain down the front of my favorite red dress. The sleeve is torn at the seam of my second best one. The hem hangs loose on my blue and brown pleated plaid skirt. No amount of scotch tape will hold it up. Even my monogrammed white blouse with the peter pan collar sports tomato sauce on the cuff.

Then there is the problem of my feet. My knee-hi hose all have runners and none of my socks match. It would not be good form to go bare legged, but I might have to if only I could find both of my black suede dress flats.

Finally, I am in the back seat of my father’s two-tone green and white Buick. Daddy will drop me off and then spend an hour at his office catching up while I get some religion at Wall Street Methodist Church. Feeling somewhat disheveled but relieved to be arriving on time, I step out of the car onto the sidewalk in front of the steep steps leading to the church sanctuary. Only then do I realize that I am dressed as God originally made me—not a rag or a thread covering my nakedness. I am wearing nothing, that is, nothing but my mismatched shoes.

Science Class

A Little Wiggle