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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Mirror Mirror

As the third and last of three girls, some might assume I was a disappointment to my father. But I don’t ever remember feeling that. I knew I was an accident; my parents had decided they were “done” with having children and each other. Divorce was in the air. But when mother discovered she was pregnant, they decided to stick it out. So when my sisters were 16 and almost eleven, I arrived—the bundle of blame for ruining the divorce.

Perhaps because my mother was sick a lot, my earliest memories include mostly my dad. At the barber shop where I sat in my car seat. At the union meetings, where they had hotdogs. At the mall, to wait in line for Santa. In the voting booth with those little pencils. By the time I started school, I thought all girls hung out with their dads. And when I started playing softball, nobody had a more loyal fan, though hearing “Granny, you gotta bend over. Don’t let that ball roll through your legs,” or “Level swing! You’re not slicing a banana,” could be a bit embarrassing. But I had no doubt that my father believed in me. He had me on our roof when I was 11 nailing shingles. When I was 12, I wallpapered the new addition at church beside hime. And at 14, he put me behind the steering wheel of our Buick Regal—on the interstate. "Don't go over 70," he said.

As an adult, I've said I was my father’s only son, as if it were necessary for me to be something other than his third daughter like that wasn’t good enough. But to be fair, HE never said that. I did. Maybe, though, it didn’t matter whether I was a boy or girl because as the caboose, I was his last. Maybe he’d learned with the first two just how quickly time passes, so he wanted to enjoy me. Or maybe he recognized something in me that had nothing to do with gender or being the baby. Maybe when he looked at me—my need for adventure, combustible spirit, and very “hard head”—it was like looking in a mirror, and he liked what he saw.


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