I will share one of the pieces I wrote while in Camas, Washington at my TLC Women’s Writing Retreat. We went on a field trip yesterday to an antique store and we were asked to take a few pictures of anything that might be used as a writing prompt. I wandered the store snapping a few shots and then I found my inspiration. This story goes back to a great time in my life somewhere around 1994-95. Matt and I were living in our apartment on North 12th Street and this is the story of a most unusual morning.
The day Bob entered our lives started no different than any other day for this single mom and her 13-year old son. The alarm went off and I hit the snooze the obligatory three times and finally got up in a rush to get my son to see the light of day. As I searched for what dazzling outfit I would wear to work, I began to silently kick myself for not taking the clothes out of the dryer the night before. Yes indeed, most of our socks and underwear were in fact sitting at the bottom of the dryer drum waiting to be rescued.
I spent an extra minute or two in the bathroom hoping that Matt would come out and ask where the clean clothesbasket was, but to no avail. I was going to have to go down to the bowels of our 75-year old house, fighting spider webs and imaginary goblins, and empty the dryer.
Flipping on the light, I made my way down the stairs. Sitting ominously at the bottom of the stairs was our washer and dryer. I shimmed between the stair rail and the washer, scratching my butt on the resident coca cola bottle opener which was nailed right below the rail, and stood in front of the dryer. I grabbed the ratty old clothesbasket which only had support on one side and opened up the dryer. Immediately, something flew out at me.
“Ahhhhhh,” I screamed as my heart jumped into my throat. “Maaaatt,” I opened my mouth to yell but no sound came out.
I ran up the stairs and slammed the basement door shut. My son was standing in the middle of the kitchen scratching whatever it is that boys scratch and turned to look at me.
“Whaaaat’s up?” he drawled in that sort of annoying way that only teenagers can utter that instantly irritate their moms.
“There’s, there’s, there’s something in the basement,” I stuttered in a panic-strickened voice.
“What?” he questioned. “My clean underwear?”
“No, no, no, I think it’s a bat, or a huge bug or pteradyctl. Go down there and kill it.”
My son, similar to me, was not brave. He no more wanted to go downstairs than I did, but with some unknown act of bravery within him, he cautiously approached the basement steps. I followed behind and as he made his way down the steps, I closed the basement door all but an inch or two and watched him make his descent. I heard shaking and crackles and suddenly I saw him racing back up the stairs. I quickly opened the door and once through, I slammed it shut.
“Mom,” he said. “There’s a crow sitting on the basement window sill. I can’t kill him. He’s bigger than me!” We looked at each other with wheels obviously turning to come up with a solution to remove the crow from the basement.
“There’s too much crap downstairs for me to be able to get at him,” Matt stated. “We have to get him up here.”
“Up here?” I moaned. “No, not up here.”
Suddenly Matt’s eyes lit up and he said, “Let’s nail a sheet between the dining room and kitchen doorway and close all the other doors except the one to the back porch. I will then gently push him with my tennis racket out the door.” “Mom,” he continued. “We will call him Bob. Bob the Bird. He is our friend.”
So we took on this mission to save Bob the Bird from our basement and return him to the wild. I grabbed the top sheet off my bed while Matt retrieved the small step stool from the back closet. We worked as a team preparing the bird sanctuary from which Bob would graciously spread his wings and await Matt’s gentle tennis racket urging to head for the great outdoors.
We walked with determination toward the basement steps. Matt, armed with a tennis racket and a beach towel, awaited the opening of the door. With great trepidation, I gently turned the doorknob and pulled. Bob was waiting for us at the top of the steps and sailed into the kitchen. I screamed and ran into the bathroom but saw Matt throw himself to the floor.
“Mmmmmattt,” I eeked. “Are you okay?” “Yeah, Mom. Just stay put,” he commanded. I could hear swooshing and an occasional, “Come on Bob” from outside the bathroom door. Finally I heard the screen door close and I inched my way out of the bathroom. I peered around the kitchen and saw the tennis racket lying on the floor in the middle of the room. Turning toward the back porch, I looked out and saw my son sitting on the back steps with a towel draped across his knees.
“You got him, huh?” I asked.
“Yeah, I got him.”
“Did you have to hurt him?” I questioned.
“No, I threw the towel over him when he landed on the table sort of wrapped him in it and then let him go once I got outside and he flew away. I was gentle.”
We sat there side-by-side, shoulders touching, for a while just looking around. Finally, Matt stood up and looked at me. “Mom,” he said kind of forlornly. “I’m going to miss Bob.”
I looked at him and smiled, “Me too, honey. Me too.”