“Use your fan brush to dab at the picture,” Mrs. Silva instructed, “It’ll help create a fur-like texture.” I was at my art class, painting a squirrel I had drawn last week. It was pretty good so far; now I was just adding some finishing touches. As I took out my fan brush, I saw Mrs. Silva’s daughter walk into the room with her sketchbook and waved at her. She smiled and waved back, then sat across from her mother at the other end of the table.
Holding up a drawing, she said, “Mom, I need help with this. I'm drawing it for a school project; does it look okay?” I glanced up from my drawing to look at the diagram of the sunflower that Mrs. Silva’s daughter had drawn.
Mrs. Silva looked up from her computer. “Mmm,” she said, holding up the picture of the sunflower. “It's pretty good, but maybe you should shade it to make it look a bit more realistic. Or maybe add some color?”
“Okay.” Her daughter nodded. I surveyed my own drawing and decided I needed to add a bit of white. It had turned out pretty good so far; I couldn’t wait to see how it turned out.
Mrs. Silva glanced at her watch. “It’s 5:30,” she said to me, “You can pack up; your parents should be here any moment.” I packed up my brushes and washed the acrylic paint out of my pallet. Once I was done, I sat in the couch and looked around the room as I waited for my parents to pick me up. “What's that?” I asked, pointing to a dagger with a shiny black hilt and a matching leather scabbard displayed on a shelf. Mrs Silva came to stand by me.
“Oh, that? That's a dagger from when my husband served in the Sri Lankan army. You want to see it?” When I nodded, she picked the dagger off its stand and unsheathed it. As I touched the tip of the blade with interest, Mrs. Silva smiled. “I don't remember where it's from, but it's said that once you unsheathe the dagger, it's taboo to sheathe it again without drawing blood. My eyes widened and I quickly stepped away. “No thanks,” I muttered and she laughed. “It's really special,” she explained, resheathing the dagger to my relief, “We even put it on display at my wedding.”
“Really?” I asked, giving into my curiosity. Mrs. Silva nodded. “Do you want to see the pictures?” I smiled and nodded. “Wait here,” she said to me, and then walked into a closet as I waited on the couch. Moments later, she returned with a dusty looking photo album. Taking a seat next to me, she said, “This has all the pictures from my wedding, along with some pictures of when two of my daughters were born.”
“Wow,” I breathed, brushing my fingers against the cool, dusty leather cover of the album. “That's a lot of pictures.”
My parents still hadn't come to pick me up about half an hour later, and we had gone through all the pictures in Mrs. Silva’s album. She had even shown me one of Mr. Silva’s appreciation medals for serving in the army. I decided to call my parents to see how far away they were. It turned they were at Target to buy my brother some supplies for a school project, and would get to my art teacher’s house in 5 minutes.
A few minutes later, I saw my dad’s white Honda enter the parking lot. “Finally!” I exclaimed, jumping up and grabbing my bag. “Are they there?” Mrs. Silva asked from the kitchen. “Yeah!” I called back, “Bye, Mrs. Silva!” I raced down the stairs as Mrs. Silva muttered something over the sound of running water.
“Stop the car!” I screamed at parents in panic. I held my breath, hoping my dad would listen to me and stop the car. Finally he saw what I saw and stopped the car as I sighed in relief.
We were driving away from my art teacher’s house when I saw something that made my heart skip a beat. At the very end of the giant parking lot, inches away from our old Honda, was a pigeon. I would have figured it would move out of the way as we drove closer if not for its eyes. I could see that it was scared out of its mind, rooted to the spot like a deer in headlights. I could see that my father was eyeing the bird, obviously unsure of what to do.
“What happened?” My brother asked, still oblivious to the pigeon in front of our car. I turned back to the windshield and pointed to the pigeon. His gaze following my finger to the bird, my brother said, “I think it’s injured.”
Slowly, all of us-except for my father, who probably didn't know how to react-got down from the Honda and inched toward the bird. Standing at a distance so as not to scare it, I studied the pigeon for any possible injuries. I frowned as I realized there were none, then tried to get closer to scan it more thoroughly. “What’s going on?” I whirled around to see my art teacher’s husband, Mr. Silva, jogging in our direction. I explained what had happened and watched as he cautiously inched toward the bird.
The pigeon, apparently coming out of its trance, started to chirp in panic and lifted its wings in a failed attempt to fly. That’s when I saw it; the bird had a deep cut under its wing that made it hard to fly. Mr. Silva must have seen the cut too, because he said, “That cut needs to be treated before it either gets infected or makes the bird easy prey.” Slowly, he bent down to pick up the pigeon. At first it fluttered around and started cooing in fear. I brushed my finger on its wing, which was obviously the wrong thing to do, because the pigeon fought harder to get free. Mr. Silva didn’t seem to notice; he was looking around the mostly empty parking lot and at the surrounding houses, probably searching for any possible dangers for the pigeon. “Someone needs to take it home,” my brother finally spoke. He was looking at the rooftop of one of the houses anxiously. Wondering what he was so worried about, I followed his gaze to the rooftop to find a hawk staring down at us. Its beady eyes were fixed on the pigeon, so focused that I wondered if he even noticed the humans surrounding the injured bird. The pigeon, who was previously fighting to get free of Mr. Silva’s grip, had stilled as soon as he saw the hawk looking back at him.
A Chinese lady had stopped her car behind ours and was looking at us with interest. Finally, she said, “Maybe you should call an animal rescue center. My sister found an injured animal recently and she called them.” Mr. Silva nodded thoughtfully. “True, but I think it would be easier to take care of it ourselves. After all, it's just a small cut.”
Though I didn't agree with that, I decided not to say anything because Mr. Silva was pretty smart and I was probably wrong. Mr. Silva said goodbye to me and my family and walked home with the bird. I watched him go until he rounded the corner and disappeared from view. Quickly, I glanced at the rooftop where the hawk was sitting, but to my surprise, the hawk was gone. “Let's go,” my dad said. I got back in the car and thought about the pigeon the whole way home. The next day, I decided to call Mrs. Silva and see how the bird was doing. As soon as I got back from school, I dialed her number and waited.
“Hi, Mrs. Silva,” I said when she finally picked up, “I just wanted to check to see how the bird was doing.” I heard Mrs. Silva chuckle through the phone. “Honestly, I'm not sure how it's doing-I'm not exactly a bird expert. But the bird seems pretty fine. It certainly seems more at home than it did yesterday.” Satisfied with her answer, I thanked her and hung up. The next day, I called again just to be sure the bird was fine. By the third day, I was sure the bird was getting better and decided not to call.
The next weekend I went over to he Silvas’ house for my weekly art classes. “Hi Mrs. Silva,” I greeted my art teacher cheerfully. “How's the bird, by the way?”
Mrs. Silva smiled ruefully. “It turns out that cut was pretty deep. The wound must have gotten infected, because the pigeon died on Wednesday.” I recalled with a pang that that was the day I had decided not to call Mrs. Silva to check on the bird because I had assumed that everything would be alright, that the pigeon would get better in no time.
It's not like calling to see if the pigeon was okay would have changed the fact that the pigeon was extremely injured and on the verge of death. But if I had called, it would have prepared me, and maybe hearing it over the phone instead of in person, where I could see the sad expression on Mrs. Silva’s face, would have lightened the blow. It also would make me feel less guilty about the pigeon’s death. That day, I realized that I should never expect the best outcome from every situation.