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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Waste of Space

So he was a guy who does not stand out in a crowd. That doesn’t mean he’s not exceptional. Not that we acknowledged that at university,. We used to call him “Waste of space,” for his habit of doing, well, nothing. He asked me to call in sick for him at work once, I had to pretend I was his sister. This went a bit against my grain, but I did it for him, because I would have done anything for him. I still would, actually. He’s been a good friend.

He’s always had a slight build, and has kept it up into middle age. He’s average height, about 5;10”. Maybe more. He always looked shorter than he really was because he tends to slouch. He has black hair and looks more Chinese than he is (half) and when I met him he had short hair, and then a mohawk, and then it was back to short, with a moppish top, and then it was really short, and then I lost track but it’s stayed more or less short for a long time. What I always remember about him is his voice and his laugh, which I cannot describe, but it has a warm center and a sarcastic edge. His accent is mostly Australian but with a slight something. I used to attribute this to his mother being English. Other times I attributed it to his father being Chinese. In all honesty it could be anything, maybe it’s because he spent some time in Hong Kong when his mother was the British Consul there. Or maybe that was Taiwan. I can’t remember.

You would know him because of how he is, not how he looks. He knows a lot of things, and has a slightly sardonic but always amused engagement with the world that tends towards happy, although you might not realize it at first. Now that he has made enough money that he doesn’t have to work he is more relaxed, but sometimes he seems at loose ends. I wonder what he will do next. I hope it is something amazing. There are so many people who admire him deeply, and I am one.

Maria Laura

Richard Robertson