Each week, many of our residents meet for Creative Writing Group with Lisa McKenzie. The class offers a creative outlet and the opportunity to flex their writing muscles.
This month, we’d like to highlight a short story by Win Swormstedt:
I opened the door early in the morning to retrieve the newspapers, as always, and there stood a tiny barefoot girl in green sleepers.
I literally gasped.
A child on the 15th floor of our retirement home—in her sleepers and bare feet!
Who was she?
Was she a mirage?
“Good morning,” I said.
“It’s my birthday!” she exclaimed.
“Well, happy birthday. How old are you?”
“Three!” She held up three fingers.
The door across the floor opened and an unrecognized woman appeared.
“Good morning,” she said. “This is my grand-niece. She called at 7 o’clock this morning, ‘It’s my birthday! Are you going to take me to McDonald’s?’ ”
The little girl peered into my apartment.
“Would you like to come in for a few minutes?” I asked. ‘Oh, dear,’ I thought, ‘what do I have for a little girl’s birthday? Most of the toys have been sent to the great-grandchildren in New Jersey and Maine.’ Then I thought of the birds. A few were left on the little bedroom windowsill—authentic Cornell-sponsored plush birds—a present to my ornithologist husband Dave.
“Would she like a bird?”
“Oh, yes. I have a cabinet full of china and glass birds.”
The little girl slowly looked over the Audubon collection of Wild Republic Plush Singing Birds—perfect replicas of the Red Cardinal, the ugly Roadrunner and the bright Western Tanager. She chose my favorite—the Painted Bunting.
My mind went back 20 years to the South Carolina home I’d shared with Dave; and another early morning door opening to an amazing sight: a Technicolor bird—red, yellow, green and blue—sitting on the limb of the hickory tree!
“Dave, Dave, come out here. I think someone’s pet has escaped.”
Dave’s eyes widened. “It’s a Painted Bunting—first I’ve seen on Hilton Head!”
We watched until the Bunting flew off in a burst of color, and Dave went off to consult his Birds of South Carolina.
Two sights I shall never forget: a tiny barefoot girl in her green sleeper on the 15th-floor hallway of our Kenwood, a rainbow colored bird in the hickory tree in our parking area.
I’m glad they’ve met.