Mid-stretch on the gym floor, I was distracted by movement at the glass door. Wings fluttered. I might have heard a thud. Did a bird brush the glass on the way by?
Michelle, my trainer, sucked in her breath and let it out in an long “oooh…”
What did I miss?
“I hate to see things like that,” she said. “I’ll think about it all day.”
I turned and saw a small bird upside down on the pavement, his little chest heaving in what had to be its last breaths.
“I think he was being chased by the bigger bird,” Michelle said.
We stopped stretching and stood in silence as his chest went still.
We finished stretching in solemn silence.
I stood by the door, keeping an eye on her baby while she shut things down in the back. I tried to avert my gaze from the little upside-down body on the pavement.
Someone walked past the gym, making a wide berth around the accident scene. My eyes automatically followed.
“Michelle!” I screamed. “He’s up! The bird is up!”
“What?” Michelle stood next to me by the door. Our friend was upright, his eyes clamped closed, his long beak pointing straight ahead. A slight sag of his right wing afforded a glimpse of a patch of bright yellow feathers, that would normally not be visible unless he was in flight.
“Maybe I should take him to the emergency vet,” I suggested. My mind raced—I had a vague memory that the emergency vet had moved, or perhaps no longer accepted wildlife patients, and I’d left my phone at home. But what could I put him in? What if I hurt him more jostling him around the city in search of a vet that may or may not be in existence?
“Maybe it would be better to let nature take its course,” Michelle suggested. “God knows this sparrow has fallen.”
I nodded in agreement, pouring out the remaining contents of my water bottle on the pavement near the bird, in case he needed a drink.
I started home. What kind of a person leaves a bird to recover on the pavement outside the gym door?
I pulled in front of my house and grabbed my computer in one hand and phone in the other. I dialed the number that appeared on the screen.
“Do you still take wild animals? Birds, specifically?” Yes, the emergency vet still existed, and still accepted wild birds as patients.
I took a two minute shower and tossed on an assortment of clothes that later turned out to be to be a mostly white graphic T-shirt, inside out, over a canary yellow bra, which glowed brightly beneath the wet patches from my dripping, matted hair.
I grabbed what I could find—and old towel and a cardboard drink carrier, and headed back to the gym. It started to rain.
Please be alive, Please be alive.
I screeched into the parking lot and pulled up to the door. He was there! Upright!
I approached the bird. He was sitting peacefully, eyes open, alert. A good sign—he’d survive the car ride.
I took another step toward him and—woosh! He took wing, quickly becoming a small speck that disappeared into the tree tops.
I stood alone, in the rain in the gym parking lot, clutching a cardboard drink carrier and a towel, laughing at the heavens.