26 Apr

A bluejay swooped down from the sky and landed on one of the branches jutting out from the tree we leaned against. While looking down on us, he cocked his head, fluffed his feathers and then flew away.

“That bird was looking at you,” she said.

“Don’t be silly.”

“He was!” she insisted.

I fiddled with a chunk of bark in my hands. She watched as I took out a a swiss army knife. The blade flipped out, and I began carving. As I whittled at the wood, the shavings created a circle around me. She was fascinated by something, either it was the wood or me; I couldn’t tell.

“I think you scared him away,” she said.


“You were whistling”

“Oh yeah? A little birdy scared of some whistling?” I began whistling as loud as I could. She smacked me in the arm.

“Ouch!” I rubbed my arm in a dramatic gesture.

“You’re a baby.”

 “Yeah I know, but a pretty cute one right?” I looked over at her.

“yeah, whatever. what are you making?”

“Wouldn’t you like to know. It’s a secret.”

From the corner of my eye I saw her fold her arms and put on her pout face. Jane had grown up a lot since she was just my best friend’s kid sister. The freckles disappeared, and her hair changed from carrot red to a deep auburn color. She wasn’t as annoying, either. Were her eyelashes always that long? And those green eyes. She must have grown a new set of eyes.

“Your birthday’s in a couple weeks, right? How old you gonna be, 13?”

She gasped in horror. I laughed.

“You’re wicked Phil Collins. You know it’s my 16th birthday.”

“Riiight, right. I remember Ted mentioning it to me the other day. Mom planning a big fancy party, right?”

She still hadn’t forgiven my comment.

“I’m not a little girl anymore, Phil.” She turned on me with those eyes. “Only three and a half years younger than you.”

The wood began to take shape as the knife continued peeling away.

“Yeah. three years. Look Jane, you’re real nice alright, but I…I cut trees for a living.”

The knife slipped and sliced my finger. A thin line of blood appeared. Jane immediately had my thumb in her hand and was tying it with a spare napkin. She finished and then looked up at me with those clear eyes. They were the most comfortable, clear eyes I had ever seen.

“You’re going to make a great nurse. You’ll have all those soldiers wanting to take you out, I bet. You’ll have to fight em away with those boxing moves I showed you.”

She laughed this time. I reached over and tucked a loose strand of hair away from her face. dang it, why’d I do that?

I returned to the wood and began whistling again, louder this time. She placed her hand on my lips.

“Phil I’ve loved you ever since I was a little girl. You know that. I’m telling you this because I’m leaving in one month. Say the word, and I’ll be yours.”

This was so Jane. Impulsive and passionate. I continued whitteling.

“Well aren’t you going to say something?”

I chipped out the beak. It was just right. I told her to close her eyes, which she did after huffing. I told her to put her hands out. I placed the little wooden bird into them and closed her hands around it.

“Happy Birthday.”


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