The Nest

Raymond found the bundle of twigs that made up the nest fascinating, but he didn’t know why. It was late in the year, and all the leaves had fallen, leaving visible an otherwise bare branch wrapped in a bundle of sticks where a bird had made its nest. After school, Raymond would stand under the tree where the nest was, and look up at it.

It was beside the playground. It was too late in the year for there to be any kids around, since they all went home after school to their warm houses. The snow hadn’t fallen yet, but it was terribly cold, and it was only Raymond who hung around. After school he always wandered over to the equipment and leaned against it while he looked up at the nest.

He never saw any activity around the nest, and so he wondered if it had just been abandoned. It looked like building it would have been too much work for someone to just leave it, but he never saw any birds around, so he didn’t know what else to think. Raymond didn’t like abandoned houses, and he didn’t like abandoned nests. Even webs without spiders in them caused him some irritation. So while he found crows loud and obnoxious, and he objected to their habit of eating garbage, he was still glad that someone was living in the nest.

It was getting too chilly outside, so he went home. His mom had a snack of cheese and crackers ready for him, so he just took his food down to the TV and watched a show while he ate. It was a good show about pyramids and aliens. Raymond really liked it, even though he didn’t completely understand what was going on.

After supper that night, he started coughing a great deal, and soon he was wracked with coughing fits. His mom put him in a room with the vaporizer going, and she came in to put Vicks on his chest. His dad would come in when she had gone to sleep, and he would give Raymond some hits off his inhaler. His dad was asthmatic, and he figured that since the inhaler helped him breath, it would also help Raymond.

After a couple of days, she wasn’t sure that Raymond just had a cold, so his mom took him to the doctor. The doctor checked him out and said that it was, in fact, a cold and so there wasn’t much that he could do for it. He did give them a prescription for some chest stuff, and for some pills that would help relax Raymond’s throat, but there wasn’t anything he could prescribe that would make it go away any faster.

After stopping at the drugstore to get his pills and chest cream, his mom took Raymond home. When they got there, he went straight back to bed, and his mom brought him a glass of water, so he could take his pills. Then she rubbed some of the prescription cream on him.

In a few more days, he was feeling better, and after another week, he felt just fine. A bit of the cough lingered, but aside from the occasional bit of hacking there was no problem.

After a couple of weeks, Raymond went back to school. His friends were glad to see him, and there was a banner they’d made welcoming him back, and he felt a little touched. He hadn’t realized that anyone would miss him. He had imagined that a few people might notice that he’d been gone, but that would be the extent of it. To have everyone – both teachers and students – welcome him back with a banner was more than he’d been expecting.

However, by the end of the school day, everything was back to normal. By that point, the snow had fallen, and even Raymond wasn’t sure that he should stick around. It seemed like an important part of getting back to normal, though, so even though it was cold, he forced himself to hang around for a little while.

He went out to his usual spot by the playground and looked up at the tree where the nest should have been. It was then that he saw that it had disappeared. While he’d been sick, there had been a large windstorm, and it had blown the sticks out of the tree. He hadn’t even noticed the storm since he was coughing incessantly, and so he was completely unprepared for the nest to be missing.

He went over to the foot of the tree and found a few remnants of the nest on the ground. There were a few intertwined twigs, some feathers, and what looked like a little bit of string on the ground.

The mess made him angry, and while normally he would have stayed around for a little longer, he immediately went home. At supper his mom and dad asked him how his day had been. He told them about the banner and the welcome that the other kids had given him, but he didn’t say anything about the nest. As a result, they couldn’t understand why he was so sullen. It sounded like he’d had a good day, and it didn’t make any sense that he’d be so irritable about it.

When supper was over he did his little bit of homework and then watched some TV. After his favorite show about bugs was over, he went to bed. Eventually he fell asleep, though it took longer than it ought to have. He knew that houses for people also got blown away sometimes, and it was much worse for them than it was for birds. At least the birds could fly away and get more sticks for a new nest.

However, most people had no idea how to build a house. He tried to imagine his skinny, asthmatic dad trying to build a house for them, and he couldn’t see it. He just had to hope that a strong wind would never hit their house.

Raymond knew that he was a bit of worry wart. People had already told him, so he knew that he had that tendency. However, it didn’t seem unreasonable to worry about wind. After all, there were windy days all the time, and a strong wind was all it would take. It was then that he decided that they needed to live in a cave. Caves might be dank and cold, but they wouldn’t get blown away.

Once he’d made that decision, he fell asleep feeling pleased with himself. He’d bring the idea up to his parents in the morning, and he had no doubt that they’d be happy to move to a cave if it meant they didn’t have to worry about wind.