Dying Baby Bird

This is not a pleasant story. and yet, this story is very me. and so I will tell this story as honestly as I possibly can.

“Loooooooooooooooooooooorieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen?!”

My grandmother was calling me from her back deck. I ran down the stairs and outside my aparment to find her leaning over the side.

“Q.T. [the cat, Quintessential Thespian] has been bringing in more playthings.”

Uh oh. “Yeaaah?”

G: “Yesterday it was a dead cardinal and I had red feathers all over the kitchen floor.”

L: {laugh} “Okay?”

G: “Tonight it was a baby bird.” She held out a kleenex wad in her fist. “I have it all wrapped up.”

I sighed and started walking towards the deck. “Okay. I’ll go toss it.”

G: “No! It’s alive.”

L: “Oh.”

G: “It’s dying.”

L: “Oh.”

L: “oh, Grandmother.”

G: “I can’t do anything with it! I thought you could take it up to your apartment until it dies and you can get rid of it then?”

Oh, no.

G: “I can’t keep it here! Q.T. will play with it again!”

L: “You wanted her to be an outdoor cat! Um. I could bury it?”

G: “Alive?”

[…]

G: “Just… just put it outside in that corner, the ants will have eaten it by morning.

L: “That’s more humane than live burial?”

G: “Here, I’ve got a box in the kitchen. It’ll only take a few hours to die and then you can toss it.”

Summary… I was back upstairs, in my apartment and sitting at my computer desk, my left hand clutching the dying baby bird to my chest. I was screwed.

So, I called Dad.

L: “I want you to know what your mother has done to me.”

D: “Oh Lordy. I deny any responsibility or connection.”

L: “Fine, whatever.” I told him the story.

D: “Oh, no. Go throw it into the old field. No, the field is filled with apartment buildings now. Go toss it over the fence.”

L: “I can’t. Q.T. will fetch it back inside again, and besides, Grandmother is hovering around windows to make sure I don’t get rid of it.”

D: “Do what you have to do. Put it out of its misery. Then get back to work.” (I have my last final, a takehome essay, to complete tonight.)

Fine. Bah. Flounder. Need Kristin.

Kristin’s Voicemail: “The following caller, ‘KRISTIN DEBOLT’, is not available. Leave a message.”

So I left a panicky giggly voicemail. The situation is not truly critical and so my excellent stressy-situation sympathetic nervous system and clear mind could not kick in. I was stuck in a stream of Dying Baby Bird.

Fine. Bah. This can’t continue.

I showed it to my cat when she grew interested, thinking, hey, if I can show her that I love baby birds and take care of them while they’re dying, maybe she won’t sneak out and help Q.T. on the hunt! The Leewit proved too interested, as her tail began to wave with deadly interest.

Okay, must leave apartment.

I got into the van and started to drive. Where? I headed north out of town, towards the lakefront. I could find a nice quiet spot for it to live out its last hours of misery.

This next part… well, it’s sappy and weird and I’ve only ever confessed such mental workings to Kristin, and certainly not here, but, well, maybe my tale needs the full sappy element to explain my psychic state.

I was driving into the country when a portion of my crazy girly brain started analyzing the conversation that I would undoubtedly someday have, about this act of insane cruelty that my grandmother had committed in leaving me to take care of a Dying Baby Bird, with some random person about whose opinion I care. These flitter through my brain occasionally. Often. Whatever. I hit the point in the narrative in which I would gently nestle the bird into the grass. Aww, sweet, fine. But, you see, mental me could see it on the face of my audience. Dying baby bird. Alone. For hours. With ants. With Bigger birds that would peck and tear and rip.

Oh no.

I pulled over to the side of the road. Need new plan. “Put it out of its misery”, Dad had said. Okay. Well. They twist chicken necks to kill them, don’t they? But, this is a baby. One, ACK. Two, It’s so little! I’d mess up and it would be cradled to my chest with a broken wing, a mangled-cat-clawed-body and a sprained neck! I need a quick way to put it out of its misery. Quick ways. Gun? Overkill. Um. Okay, THINK, you’re on a dark back road of countryside Missouri. You can’t sit here forever. How do you kill a bird Very Very Very Quickly and efficiently?

Only one option appeared in my brain. With quick replay. Over, and over.

Well. Gosh. Can I do that? Can I not do that? One option is quick, efficient death that requires Active Involvement on my part. The other is a slow death that requires Passive Involvement. I really wanted the latter, the nice, gentle, nestling in the grass kind. But, really, that was selfish. Ants. Pecking. Ow.

I turned around and headed for the highway. I drove with my knee and elbows while I cradled the bird with one hand and stroked its little dying bird head with the tip of my right index finger until its eyes finally closed as if it were asleep. Still breathing, but a slowed heartbeat. Okay.

Twisty knickers.

Gain speed, hit 80 in a bad car on a 60mph highway. Can’t dodge the cars. Blast.

Window down.

Um. Okay. Ack.

Left arm flung out, little Dying Bird went out the window. Gasp. Shock. Looked backwards in the rearview mirror.

It didn’t explode.

Dying Baby Bird bounced.

Dying Baby Bird flew up and landed on the windshield of the car behind me.

Dying Baby Bird went *POOF*.

Afterwards, as I wandered the aisles of Walmart searching for a sample bottle of GermX, I realized that for its last few moments of life I had granted Dying Baby Bird the gift of flight, and this thought was possibly the single most callous moment of my life. I cackled with shock over the situation and my choice.

Bye, Dead Baby Bird.

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