I came into work the other morning and found this little guy sitting on the floor. I've no idea how he got inside, but it was clear he was not in a good way. He was only small, a chick really. He just sat there, on the floor, not moving and not trying to get away.
I covered him with a tablecloth so I could catch him and when I had him cupped in my hands, I carried him outside. I was going to put him down on a tree stump near the back door, so he could fly away.
When I uncurled my hand's something strange happened, the little bird remained where he was, he didn't try to fly or anything. He just looked at me with his little dark eyes and sat where he was. He was clearly frightened because his feathers were a little puffed up.
It was amazing having something so delicate and wild sitting in my hand. Gently, I stroked his head and back, with my lightest touch and told him everything was going to be ok. His eyes closed and he lifted his head to receive each stroke as if he enjoyed the contact. It might have been a minute it might have been four as we enjoyed each others company, but in the end, I knew I had to let him go on his way.
I stopped stroking him, and the most incredible thing happened. The little bird hopped across my palm and nuzzled his head against the tip of my finger. He may have been missing his mom, or he might have enjoyed the contact, whatever the reason, this little guy insisted on more strokes, and he continued to close his eyes with each pass over his feathers.
At last, I managed to get him to step down on the stump and left him there while other birds called from the trees. He didn't try to fly but stood there looking around. I knew he was roughed up, but I hoped he would be able to find his way home. I went in and opened up the pub, but the little fella wouldn't leave my mind.
An hour later I went out the back to check on him, and sure enough, the top of the stump was empty. I was happy. Actually, my little friend had found his way home. I had started to walk away when I noticed a tiny fluffy patch on the gravel. I bent down and scooped up the cold body of my friend, a wild spirit who had made me his last contact before leaving this world. I'm not ashamed to say I shed a tear over his body, an innocent and beautiful creature who allowed me into his world before he found a better place in the universe.
I will never know why that tiny thing hopped across my hand to get a second rub, but it will remain one of my most treasured moments.