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copyright © 1999, 2000,2001 Andrew V. Smith. All Rights Reserved
A bird in the hand, continued
April turned to see whom the voice belonged to. A little girl who was all
blonde ponytail, skin and bones was running after her. The little girl’s
sneakers raised small powder clouds of dry tan dust every time her feet
hit the path along the road. She wore one of those brightly colored vinyl
backpacks with clear plastic pockets. April figured she was a sixth grader.
Reflexive prejudice almost had her turn around and ignore someone who was
obviously a year younger, and not even in junior high. April checked herself,
though, and waited for the girl.
“Hi, I’m Sandy.” The girl caught up to April, bent down and started puffing heavily.
Wow, she’s really out of shape, thought April. Won’t have to worry about her ever taking my spot on the soccer team.
“Who are you?” Sandy asked.
“Uh . . . April.” It came as a forced grunt; harsher than April had intended. “You’re new?”
“Yes, we moved from Narragansett last week. Mind if I walk home with you?”
April thought about it a moment. This kid’s not in my classes. She shrugged. “Where do you live?”
“Up there ahead, on Old Mystic Lane.” Sandy wagged a finger in the general direction. “This is Middletown isn’t it? I haven’t figured out this island yet."
April turned abruptly. “C’mon, let’s get you home. You’re on my road. Can’t be more than a couple of houses from me.” Sandy tagged along and began an animated monologue. Her arms waved around her as she talked, like a symphony conductor.
April retreated into her thoughts and soon the sound of the sixth-grader’s continuous chatter became background white noise. Suddenly there’s no sound. April turned to look for Sandy. There’s no little girl behind her. April scanned the road until she spotted Sandy crouching down on one knee to look at something under the trees.
April walked over to where the girl was crouching. On the ground, near Sandy’s feet, was a nestling; an almost featherless very young baby bird.
April studied the bird more closely. It’s a robin. The poor thing
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