It’s 7:55am and I’m definitely late for work.
I don’t know how time has gotten so away from me. Every morning feels like this. I open my eyes and look up at the same ceiling. I get up, follow the same routine. Wear similar clothes and grab the same bland breakfast.
They say routine is supposed to make you feel more secure; that its healthy and normal. Every morning I wake up and every morning I feel a little less alive.
It’s always the same.
Except for today.
I rush out the door, get in my car and notice I’d need gas soon. Again? Fuck. Why are the prices so high? Are we draining the Earth or is it draining us?
I pull out and speed down the street. But why hurry? I’m already late. But, I do it anyhow. I feel the build of stress in my chest. I throw myself into a tight, suffocating panic, the one that tells you your boss notices your absence and is watching the clock.
The only thing that can redeem you now is a car accident.
Please, let someone hit me. Not too hard. Maybe a light scratch–or should we go all the way? A real mess; something that’ll make them marvel at how metal and bone could bend in such a way.
No accident comes, but instead, as i’m driving, I see something white in the middle of the road. I need glasses, so I squint. It moves and I realize it’s a fucking bird. A seagull lying in the middle of the road. At first, I thought it was dead. Two cars speed over it and as I approach, I see its head pop up and its crumpled wing shoot out.
It fumbles and can’t get up. Its probably dazed. I swerve, lucky no one was in the lane besides me. My head turns and I gawk as I meet the small black eyes of this confused, broken bird.
Shit. I fly past it. I’m speeding down the road and gaze into my rear view mirror.
I’m late for work.
I don’t have time for this.
What is this bird even doing out here in the street?
I bite my lip and I turn my wheel, hitting the brakes as I bust out a hard U-Turn. The little bastard is probably dead by now laying out there like that.
I hurry back down the street and have to pull another U-Turn to get in the bird’s lane. I drive a few feet up to it and luckily, it’s still there, looking lost and alone. I stop my car and throw on hazard lights.
What am I doing?
I gulp and step out my car when it’s safe. The seagull looks at me and I realize I don’t have a plan and in fact, I’m scared. I’m freaking scared of birds, especially ones I don’t personally know. This isn’t someone’s pet, this seagull is wild and I can’t read its dark eyes.
“Are you lost?” I say as a pickup truck blares its horn and flies past me, swearing.
“Why are you all alone?”
The seagull tries to stand and flops about. I feel a pang hit my chest so hard, my eyes water.
“I don’t have anything to grab you with. I don’t have anything but my bare hands.” And i’m sure it’s diseased. This is the city. We’re all diseased.
Time ticks on and I’m holding up traffic with my dumb heroics. There are two lanes but people here are absolute dicks and can’t wait. I can’t either. I’m late for work and this seagull needs help. Why couldn’t I leave it like any normal person? Why couldn’t I ignore this poor bird in need of help?
People have come to look. They are watching me watch the struggling seagull. Damn. I have to do it now. They are expecting me to. But i’m scared and my palms are sweating. Is this bird going to bite me? Will it tear the skin right from my hand, one peck at a time?
“I know you’re scared, buddy, but it’s okay.” What a lie. I approached it and began to lean and stoop down, hands out and ready.
“Go easy on me,” I said softly. I had to be quick, grab it by its body, careful of its wings.
“I don’t want you to die. Not like this. And if you do die, at least you know somebody stopped for you.”
What was I saying? The seagull turned its head to me, looking with those small, dark eyes. I wondered what it was thinking. Maybe it had to go to work. Maybe it was late and in a rush, but got into an accident on the way. What a shitty day.
I almost wanted to close my eyes as my hands neared the bird. I could do this. I clasped the seagull’s body between my sweaty palms and lifted gently.
It didn’t squawk or struggle. It let me pick it up. My heart was thrumming hard in my ears. I could feel my face redden and my head swim slightly from the adrenaline. I carried it over to the sidewalk, not knowing what to do next. I sat the bird down and it flopped a bit and looked up at me.
He was probably just stunned. He needed a vet. But I had to go to work. I was late. So late.
People started to clap for me. I was a hero. A seagull savior.
I looked at my watch. 8:20am. Fuck.
I pulled out my cellphone, ready to call my boss but an unread text stopped me. It was my manager.
“Don’t bother coming in,” it said.
My heart sank. I looked down at the flopping seagull. I wanted to be mad at it but I couldn’t. I chose to turn around and come back. I knew I didn’t have nay more chances. Maybe someone else would have helped it if I kept going, or perhaps on the way home I would have saw its broken, bloodied body all over the road.
I gritted my teeth and picked the bird back up. I nodded to the people and went to my car. I gently put him in the passenger seat, got in and turned my caution lights off.
I glanced at the bird, who was silent. I didn’t want him to die. Not like this.
“You’re going to be okay,” I said. “Everything will be alright…” I stroked the top of its head. It turned to look at me then began blinking and gazing around the car. I smiled.
“Guess we’re going to the vet.”
And then we sped off, no longer late, but right on time.