Johnny was wandering around the backyard. He was looking at sticks, picking up sticks, kicking shit. The stick was a perfect adventure tool. He stamped the one he carried into the grass with each step, like a wizard staff of tremendous power and weight. He leaned on it as he gazed toward the center of the acre, where a large boulder sat beside the blackened remains of a wide, circular fire pit. The afternoon sun glinted off the chrome and steel of the old cars beyond the rock, marooned in the farthest reaches of the long, narrow property.
He didn’t feel like playing in the cars today. It was too nice out to race around his imagination, cooped up in a tin box, roasting in the sun. He turned and headed toward the drive at the side of the house, and the giant maple tree looming over the edge of the property line. Perhaps he would find adventures in the woods across the street.
As he reached the back of the drive, he noticed something flutter on the ground near the base of the maple tree. Immediately he began moving toward it, stick out, ready for poking- another useful function of such an adventure tool.
When he reached the flapping object of his attention, he did not poke it with the stick. It was a baby robin. He crouched down to the ground to get a closer look, using the stick to balance himself, once again proving its essential value.
The bird was quite young, barely feathered and clearly incapable of flying. Johnny watched it curiously, with a concentrated frown. He looked up the tree, the first branches towering far beyond his reach. He gazed out across the yard, then over to the neighbours place and the street, scanning for prowling cats. This flopping little creature was completely useless. It couldn’t even stay stood on it’s own two feet. He leaned in closer and held his hand out to the confused animal.
“Well little birdy,” he whispered, scooping the baby into his hands and bringing it close to his face. “I don’t think anyone is coming to save you. It’s too dangerous for you to stay out here on your own. Looks like it’s up to me. Don’t worry. I’ll keep you safe until you can get back to your family.”
And with that, Johnny sauntered into the house, cupping his new friend delicately in his hand.
Upon entering the kitchen, he was greeted with a pitched shriek from his mother.
“Johnny! What the fuck is that!” she yelled with shattering presence.
He held the bird out to her, calmly.
“He’s my new friend,” he said, beaming. “His name is Mr Robin.” He let out a little snicker, thinking himself quite clever and creative. He was eight.