“Bless us all!” said Marlene, trying to get a good look around Tom’s hulking body.
“I’ve never. Never. Seen anything like that.” Mark, the second eldest, tucked his thumbs beneath his armpits in his usual officious observer’s stance. The children had found a bird that none of them could identify. It had been by the creek, tangled in a kind of mucous they had cleaned off before rushing it back to the house—they had both described it as an odd, vaguely odorous, clear and viscous goo, slightly more limber than their borax-solution home-made slime. The bird inside it was unconscious—they had thought dead—but with their continued contact—rinsing, cleaning, petting—it had opened its eyes and slowly begun to rouse. Tom held it now in his great red railroader’s hands, and it peered out small and calm now between his two thumbs.
“Maybe it’s a dinosaur!” squealed James, and Samantha agreed.
“Well I wonder what it sounds like,” said Marlene, leaning back in her chair. “You know, when it sings.”
“If it’s got a song,” said Mark. “Sure wish that fella been here a few months ago to take care of those bats was here now, he’d probably tell us straight up what we’re looking at.”
“I think it came from Venus!” screamed Samantha, having recently explored the planets with Mark in a new book she brought home from the school library.
Tom, not saying a word, opened up his hands. Everyone on the porch watched silently as the bird moved first hesitantly, looking straight ahead as though afraid to see what waited for it, then lifted its wings and took off into the fading blue sky. The children groaned.
“Well, it’s a long way to Venus I guess,” said Mark.