When Two Worlds Collide This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

January 6, 2012
I was born in Minneapolis. The city is in my blood. But I live in the country, and have been forced to cope. One thing I’ve always had trouble with is birds. How could anyone be amused by staring out the window for hours at these feather-brained creatures? My mother had always been one of those ridiculous birdwatcher types. She tried to raise her children with a respect for wildlife, but this had not been too effective with me.

One evening, a hummingbird caught my mother’s eye. I’d heard the facts before: “One of nature’s most fascinating creatures is the ruby-throated hummingbird. Its incredible wing speed allows it to hover in midair. Its miniature size …”

What made this particular “hummer” so odd, however, was that it had been sitting on the same perch, frozen in time for ten minutes like an icicle on a still winter morn. My mother got a stepladder and retrieved the bird from his perch. She inspected him. It appeared his tongue was paralyzed and he was unable to drink the red liquid from the feeder. My mother handed the injured creature to me while she went inside for an eyedropper.

Never in my life had I felt as frightened as when that tiny life was in my hands. Within the silky, smooth, green shell, the miniature heart beat so fast that I thought it literally might explode. I placed the eyedropper inside the long, graceful beak, and prayed that he would swallow.

At first, he only shuddered, but finally he managed to swallow. After a few minutes, he glided gracefully to the ash tree on the front lawn. Although it appeared that the bird was cured, something urged me to keep watching.

Within minutes, a second, slightly larger hummingbird appeared. He did not alight on the feeder, but instead hovered within a few feet of my face. He would fly to the ash tree, then back to me. It didn’t take me long to realize that he was sending me a message, a sort of “S.O.S.”

I crept to the base of the tree where I found the tiny creature’s form quivering in the evening air. I slowly reached into the dewy grass to scoop up the bird. His feathers were damp now, his eyes closed. It seemed his heartbeat had slowed to a dull thud within his thumbsized body.

“Please, please, be okay.” He had asked me for help. Now he owed me a favor in return. I was asking him to stay alive.

It must have been a very tragic picture: a child, wiping her tear-stained face with her one free hand, while the other palm was cupped around a tiny, dying creature. Fate was taking its own course. It seemed hopeless.

The pulsation from its heart was hardly recognizable, and the body was growing colder. Its throat, which had once been so brilliantly bright, was fading to a dull gray.

As a child clawed at the ground that evening, digging a grave for a creature she’d tried so desperately to save, she felt at first that she had proven herself correct: her world and nature’s were separate, not to be interfered with by outside forces. She had given all the comfort she could, but to what avail?

Yet she realized there are some things she could change and some consequences she must simply accept. Either way, sometimes two worlds collide, and strangers must ask for, and be willing to receive, help from others. Without this, survival is not only impossible, but meaningless.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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