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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Math Test Mark

I am a good healer. It is very difficult to find any of the scars on my body. They only exist in my memory. My worst scar is somewhere on my left knee. It was the result of blithe happiness. I was in middle school or junior high as they used to call it. Algebra was very difficult for me. At the end of 9th grade in New York State we had to take a state exam in every subject called The Regents. Somehow in this class that I loathed, I managed to get a 98 on this final test. I was beyond happy. I went out for a walk after I received the news. I was happy to please my parents with this good grade. My heart was soaring on that afternoon in June as I practically skipped down Grove Place towards the creek at the end of our street. Then I tripped. I fell down hard on my left knee. Blood was gushing. I limped back home. My knee was an ugly mess. I didn’t need stitches. Nothing was broken but this fall left the biggest scar of my childhood. Maybe it is a reminder, a lesson, that even on the best of days, something can go wrong. Decades later when I examine my knee, this scar is all but faded, the skin having a different smooth quality, I remember this day. It was not supposed to happen that way but it did. I have all but forgotten algebra. The x’s and the y’s of it all. I never knew why I had to learn it. My mother said everything we learned would give us a method of thinking even if we didn’t use it in our everyday life. Maybe that scar is a badge of accomplishment, character, an award, a reminder of my youthful determination to overcome the difficulty of learning to understand something that did not come easily to me. I always manage to win in the end. Pull myself up. A few years later, I received a 99 final grade in high school chemistry after a first semester C .

Wonderfully made

Fourth of July