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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.


I’ve forgotten to pick up the kids, or arrived late, that doesn’t feel good. I’ve forgotten that I let out Lisa Loops’ dog, something she’s never forgiven me for, nor should she.  

35 years ago I came home to the house I shared with a friend and let her dog out, I have no memory of it. What I do remember is that her dog was hit by a car and died, and it’s my fault. I don’t remember any of this but Lisa remembers, she’s mentioned it a few times. The last time was about 10 years ago, and it was a complete surprise to me. What kind of person must I be to do such a thing and not remember it. I tried to ignore it but it’s definitely in me. I say I don’t remember but I have a dim recollection of thinking letting the dog out was okay. I've wanted to dispute this day or forget her pain but I own it now. It's mine, I did it.  

Forgot. Hard to remember what you’ve forgotten. I would guess that my husband would have a list of things I’ve forgotten. Ways that I’ve made him feel small and unloved.  

Once when Sara was 5 or 6, on certain days of the week she stayed after school and went to the auditorium for folklorico dance class. Her 1st grade teacher taught the class. One day, somehow the kids went to the class but Sara was left on the playground. I came by more than an hour later to get her and found her crying lost on the playground. That was a sad lonely sight, I’m so sorry that happened. I doubt that I did a very good job of comforting her, those moments are not my best. I was mad, I remember that. But I understand how it happened and if I hadn’t been trying to do so much —- make a living, by then Sean was a baby, stretch every minute of my work day to get as much done as humanly possible - I would grab any chance for her to stay occupied after school. I’m ashamed that I wasn’t there for her that day.  

My dad forgot to go to things a lot when I was growing up — performances at school mainly. It was painful to search the crowd for him and not see him. I taught myself to expect it, and to imagine that his life must be filled with things I didn’t understand. But I knew that he didn’t really have that much going on - what could he have? He wasn’t married with kids any longer. He had a wife, but all they did was run a magazine together. It did not matter to him that I had a performance, that was truth. But some times he did make it.  

The trip to Cozumel when I was 14, we found some locals to take us scuba diving, I think it was scuba, I remember being under the water. One of the teachers was maybe 18, and he followed me in the water and rubbed on my swimsuit on my labia. I didn’t notice at first and then was full of surprise and shame when I finally felt it and realized what was happening. It was such a sport for him. Did I swim away when I noticed it? I think it stopped shortly after I noticed. Soon after we all came out of the water, my mother, stepfather, myself, and the 2 locals. My parents crossed the street from the beach to the hotel, and I stayed at the beach sitting there hugging my legs to my chest. He came up and sat next to me for a while, I wouldn’t talk to him and eventually went away. I was forgotten there on the beach. I did not tell my mother what happened. I felt shame that I didn’t feel what he did right away, that it took maybe 10 seconds for me to notice. It continued for another 10 seconds. He was a horrible fuck. Why are people so mean? Why do that to a young girl, why is that a sport?