Hum





Brooklyn Judd


 
© Copyright 2023 by Brooklyn Judd



Photo courtesy of Wikimedia commons.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia commons.

Waking up early felt like a sin, but taking a cold shower after all the other girls had beaten me to the warm water was easily the greater of two evils. When Iíd spent the earlier few months saving up to go to summer camp, I hadnít quite imagined how much sweat, dirt, and smoke would cling to my skin, or just how little hot water the camp showers had available.

I hung my towel over the edge of the wooden shower stall, humming quietly, but paused with my hand on the cold metal of the shower handle.

There was something else humming, too. A quiet, insistent buzzing.

I looked up.

The camp bathrooms had large, yellowed vinyl windows set into the roof, letting the newborn sun stream in to light the building. And in one of the windows, blazing a 2x6 square path, was a tiny green hummingbird.

The math worked itself out quickly. It must have gotten in by accident, but the only sun was coming from the skylights. The door was on the shadowed side of the building, low and dark compared to the window. How long had it been flying along the borders of the light, looking for an escape that wasnít possible? Iíd heard once that if a bird got stuck in a building, to turn off all the lights and open a door so it would fly towards the light. However, the windows werenít lights, and unless I had some heretofore unknown Apollo-like powers, I couldnít turn off the sun.

There was only one thing to do.

The climb from the sink counters to the top of the wooden stalls wasnít difficult, but the wood beams above were mossy, slimed with years of shower steam from all the camp attendants before me. My grip was tenuous as I swung up, nails digging into the wood. I hesitated. Leaving camp early because I cracked my head open on the cement flooring below wasnít exactly how I wanted to conclude my stay.

The hummingbird's flight seemed to be slowing, however. And hadnít it said in one of my bird manuals at home that hummingbirds needed to eat every ten or so minutes? Even if I remembered that factoid wrong, I was sure that they did need to eat regularly to maintain their crazy metabolisms.

I stood, wavering and setting one hand against the ceiling to balance myself. I inched forward slowly, taking care to brace each foot before moving the next. Maybe I should have worn shoes, I thought, thinking of splinters. Once I was near enough it was clear I hadnít been imagining it- the hummingbird was definitely slowing, its geometric path faltering. A splash of deep purple glittered at its throat.

Iíd never seen one this close before, and its size had me freezing. It was so impossibly small. I swallowed thickly, reaching my hand out, and-

The door clanged open. ďAnd so then I told him I didnít care, but- Brooklyn?Ē It was Hadlie, with Cassieís older sister behind her.

ďUm,Ē I said awkwardly. ďHi.Ē

ďAnd youíre hanging out in the bathroom showers why?Ē

I pointed.

ďOkay,Ē She said slowly. ďCan you, uh, deal with that before we get undressed for the showers then?Ē She eyed the stalls pointedly, and I quickly realized her meaning. The wooden dividers didnít do anything about hiding their contents from someone above.

ďRight,Ē I said, gathering my determination. I carefully formed my hand into a loose, open claw, like the claw machines at an arcade. I didnít want to squish it- itís little bones were probably like toothpicks.

I reached out and snatched it into my hand. I blinked- I hadnít expected it to be so easy, but it sagged against my fingers instantly, putting up zero fight. It must have been exhausted.

I clambered down. The descent was easier than the climb, and I hurried outside, opening my fingers.

The little bird just sat huddled against my palm, practically weightless, and made no effort to move. My heartbeat picked up, anxiety racing. Iíd been careful- Iíd barely touched it, honestly, and certainly put no pressure against its body. I scanned the mountainside. There, a little way up the hill, was a spray of deep blue lupine flowers. I hiked my way over, carefully extending my hand underneath. The bird paused for a moment, but then stretched its lithe neck out to drink.

I sat with it for a few minutes while it sipped and caught its breath. Iíve wished many times since that I had a camera- it was so beautiful, tiny, scale-like feathers glittering in the sun, the thin slant of its beak, the dark pearl eyes. But maybe itís better that I didnít have anything to distract me, and I got to have that moment sitting on an Idaho mountainside amongst the flowers, able to focus on nothing but the tiny quivering creature in my palm.

And then it was gone, flitting away as quick as the wind.

I stood, exhaling a shaky breath and wiping my sweaty hands against my jeans. That was the most amazing thing that had ever happened to me. That was the most-

Movement caught my eye. A line stretched out the bathrooms now, girls lining up with bright colored towels. I sighed, thinking of ice cold water, but then looked back up the mountainside, where somewhere a little bird was flitting about.

Oh, well. Worth it.


Brooklyn Judd recently graduated with her Bachelors of English Education and is currently in her first year of teaching. When not explaining how to structure an essay to high schoolers, she enjoys creative writing, photography, and going on long hikes around the local Teton mountains. 




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