Author's Note: I actually spent quite a long time on this, and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. A total of about 10 pages, whoo~
The Robin Project
"Spencer, what are you doing up there?! Get down here this instant!"
"Yes mother," Spencer sighed. He obediently climbed down from the kitchen cabinets and stood at her feet, looking up at her with big grey eyes.
His mother took one look at him, shook her head and sighed. "Spencer, where are your glasses?"
Spencer shrugged, lowering his gaze to the ground. Of course, he knew all too well were they were, but he also knew that if he told his mother he would get in trouble.
"Don't lie to me," she said in a warning tone. If you know you need to tell me."
He hesitated a moment before mumbling, "I broke them."
"Oh Spencer," his mother groaned, rubbing one of her temples. "That's the third pair this month! How did you manage to break them this time?"
"I dropped them when I was climbing the tree outside," Spencer said, fidgeting with his feet. "I was trying to catch one of those pretty birds, the ones with the red bellies, and my glasses fell off and broke."
"Young man, I don't want you climbing on things anymore, do you hear?" She scolded. "Every time you climb on something, you break something. Your father and I don't have that kind of money to throw away."
"No buts," she said. "You can't climb anymore, period. Not on trees, and especially not on my cabinets."
"You never let me have any fun!" Spencer shouted. Before his mother could say anything, he stormed out the front door and slammed it behind him. Without looking back, he sat on the top step of the front porch and sighed. It was so unfair, how he couldn't climb any more. How else was he supposed to get one of those pretty birds? He sat there for a while, admiring the robins flit from branch to branch. Everyone in his class thought they were plain and boring, but Spencer had always thought they were brilliant.
It was right about then that he noticed something struggling on the ground. Curious, he walked over to see what it was. He had to squint a bit to see without his glasses, but after a moment of examination he saw that it was a pretty little robin, stranded with a broken wing.
"Mom! Mom!" he cried, running back into the house. "There's a bird outside and I think it's hurt!"
"Not now dear, I'm a little busy," she replied. She was at the kitchen doing dishes, and it was obvious that she wasn't paying attention. Spencer groaned in frustration. How was he going to save the bird if his mom didn't help him? Then it occurred to him, why did he need her help? He could do this on his own, and he could probably do it better than she could. Quickly he ran upstairs to grab an empty shoe box and a small towel. Then he ran down to find the bird and sighed with relief when he saw it was still there. He knelt down, towel in hand, and opened the shoe box next to him.
"It's okay, I won't hurt you," he said in a soothing voice as he gently wrapped the towel around the bird and picked it up. "I'll help you get all better, I promise."
He carefully sat the bird in the box and put the lid on. Then, making sure his mother didn't see him, he carried to box up to his room and sat it on his bed.
"I'll be back soon, okay?" he said quietly. With that he grabbed his library card and ran downstairs, making sure to close his door.
"I'm going to the library!" he called as he ran for the door.
"Alright, just make sure you're home in time for dinner," his mother called back.
Spencer ran out the door and headed for the library. They had so many books, at least one of them had to tell him how to take care of a bird, right?
The librarian sat at her desk, reading her favorite book. This was her favorite part, the part where Gabriel—
"Excuse me," said a quiet voice at the library counter.
The librarian looked up from her book and tucked back her short blonde hair. She saw a little boy, about nine years old, standing on his tip-toes so he could see over the counter's edge. He had short, messy grayish white hair and bright grey eyes.
"Hello there," she said with a warm smile. "Can I help you with something?"
The little boy nodded. "Do you have any books on birds?"
"Of course we do," she said. "What kind of book are you looking for? One to find a particular species?"
"No, I want to know how to take care of one," he said.
"Oh, did you get a new pet?" the librarian asked, leaning against the counter.
"Well, sort of," the boy said slowly. "See, I found a robin that got hurt, and I wanted to help it get better."
The librarian thought this over before saying anything. "Well, we do have a few books that could help you, but you really shouldn't be doing that alone. Do you have an adult that can help you?"
"No, my mom won't help me," the little boy said. "But I think I can do it, if I really try."
The librarian opened her mouth, about to tell him that she thought that was a bad idea, but stopped herself when she had a thought. "Hey, why don't you bring it over here, and we can take care of it together?"
"Really?" The boy asked, eyes lit up with excitement. "You'll really help me?"
"Well, I don't see why not," she said with a smile. "As long as your parents don't mind you being here for a little while, I'd be happy to help."
"Oh thank you!" The boy said with a broad smile. "I'll be right back, I'm going to go get my bird."
The librarian watched as he ran out the doors. She probably shouldn't have offered to help him, she had enough on her plate as it was. But, even though she could be spending her time on other things, she had a feeling she wouldn't regret this. Who knew, maybe it would be fun.
The librarian poked her head through a doorway behind the front counter and smiled when she say the young boy. "Oh good! Come back here, I've got everything all set up."
The librarian watched as he made his way to the back room and looked around. It was her office to work in, and she had set up a small bed with birdseed, some water, and some bandages if they needed them. She had also gotten out a few books on birds that could possibly help her.
"I got everything I thought we would need," she said with a smile, holding up a small soft pillow she had found. "Do you have the bird?"
The boy nodded and sat his shoebox on the small table. "It's in here, safe and sound."
The librarian carefully picked the lid off of the box and looked inside. Her lips formed a small, sad smile when she saw the little robin. "What a pretty bird… too bad it can't fly, poor thing."
"Do you think we can help it?" The boy asked, looking at the injured bird.
The librarian nodded. "If it just has a hurt wing, I'm sure we can take care of it," she said with a reassuring smile. "If you want, we can keep it here to make sure nothing happens to it. Does that sound good?"
"That's perfect!" the boy said with a broad smile. "And I can come and visit every day, right?"
"Of course," the librarian reassured him. "You can come see it as often as you like, just as long as your parents know you're here."
The two got to work on the small robin, wrapping up its wing and feeding it. The librarian helped the boy read the information he needed since he couldn't read without his glasses. All the while the two talked as if they had been friends for years, Spencer telling her about kids at school and the librarian talking about life in the library. When the two had finished with the bird and carefully put it back in its box, the librarian looked over and was shocked to see the boy holding back tears.
"Oh no no no, don't cry sweetheart, what's wrong?" she asked, kneeling next to him, green eyes flooded with concern.
"I don't want to leave yet," he sniffled. "I want to stay here, but now that we're done fixing the robin I have to go home."
"No you don't," the librarian said quickly, desperate to keep the boy from crying. "I mean, if your parents said it was okay, I would love to have you stay for a little longer."
"You mean it?" the boy asked.
The librarian nodded and smiled. "We can even have some hot chocolate if you want."
The boy's devastated expression quickly turned into a broad grin. "Well, I do really like hot chocolate."
"Then let me show you where the break room is," the librarian said, standing up and holding out her hand.
The boy took her hand and the two walked down to the break room, where the librarian got out two mugs and heated some water up in the microwave. The boy sat in a small chair to wait, swinging his legs back and forth and looking around the room.
"So, what's your name?"
"Hm?" Spencer looked at the librarian, her words taking a moment to register. "Oh, I'm Spencer. What's your name?"
"I'm Jenny," the librarian said with a smile. "But you can call me Jay if you want, everyone else does."
"It's nice to meet you, Jay," Spencer said, smiling.
"It's nice to meet you too, Spencer," she said, handing him his mug. Spencer happily took it and watched the water turn in the microwave. Jay got the hot chocolate packets down from a cabinet and poured some into both of their mugs before pouring in the water and stirring it. Spencer grinned and took a sip, the warm chocolaty taste filling his mouth.
"So, Spencer, I have a question for you," Jay said, blowing on her hot chocolate to cool it down.
"What is it?" Spencer asked, turning to look at her.
"Are you albino?" Jay asked, eyes fixed in his silvery-grey hair. "I mean, I don't want to be rude, I'm just curious is all."
"No," Spencer answered. "Don't worry, I get asked that a lot, but I'm not albino. I just have grey hair."
"That's pretty neat, I've never met anyone like that," Jay mused before taking a sip of her hot chocolate.
"I don't like it," Spencer said with a frown. "The other kids make fun of what I look like. I wish my hair was a different color, like yours."
"Mine?" Jay asked, picking up a strand on her short dark blonde hair. "Why mine? Blonde is boring, especially my color. Actually, I wish I had your hair."
"Really?" Spencer asked, his confusion showing clearly. "Why would you want hair that's such a weird color?"
"Because it's unique," Jay said. "Not many people have it. You call it weird, I call it special. Just a little something that makes you more you."
"Well, I never thought of it like that," Spencer said, a small smile returning to his lips.
"It's all about perspective," Jay said with a smile. "If someone says something bad about you, just try to put a positive spin on it. You'd be amazed at what it can do."
Spencer smiled and took another sip of his hot chocolate before his eyes drifted over to the clock on the microwave.
"Oh!" He cried, setting down his hot chocolate. "I have to go or I'll be late for dinner!"
"If you want, I can give you a ride home," the librarian offered.
"No, that's okay, I can walk," Spencer said as he headed for the door. "I'll be back tomorrow, thanks for helping me!"
Jay heard the door shut with those last few words and smiled. It had been a while since she had met such a good kid. She almost couldn't wait to see him tomorrow.
Jay heard the bell on the library door chime and looked up, happy to see a very familiar face.
"Spencer!" she said with a broad smile, setting her book down. "You certainly are early, don't you have school today?"
Spencer shook his head. "Nope, parent teacher meeting so we don't have school."
"Is that right?" Jay asked, standing up and getting out her key for the back room. "So does that mean you can stay for a while today?"
"Sure does," Spencer said with a grin, heading for the back room himself.
It had been four weeks since Spencer had brought the robin, and he had visited nearly every day since. Even though the bird's wing was healed and they would be ready to release it into the wild in a couple days, Jay hoped Spencer would still come to visit. She had never met a kid his age that was as smart and polite as he was, and he was so sweet he had really grown on her.
"Here you go," Jay said, opening the door for him. Spencer walked in and smiled at the little bird resting on a pillow.
"Hello, Robin, how are you today?" He asked in a gentle and soothing voice.
The little robin chirped and hopped in response, its small black eyes watching Spencer.
"We'll be able to let it go soon," Jay said. "Actually, if you wanted, we could probably let it go today.
Spencer went silent for a moment, staring at the small bird. The librarian waited several moments before he spoke again.
"I don't want to let the bird go. I want to keep it."
Jay sighed. She had a feeling this was going to happen… "Spencer, I'm sorry, but we can't keep it. It belongs in the wild, where it can fly around and go wherever it wants."
Spencer gave sad look towards the bird before slowly nodding. "Okay, we can let it go. We should let it go now so it isn't as hard later." He gently picked up the box and looked up at Jay, waiting for her to come with him. Jay gave a small smile before following. She was so proud of him for making such a mature decision at such a young age. He really was one of the brightest boys she had ever met.
The two walked through the library towards the door, Spencer carrying the little bird and Jay following close behind. They had almost reached the doors, when Spencer suddenly stopped.
"Spencer, what are you doing?" Jay asked, puzzled by the boy's actions. Instead of replying, Spencer just stood there, head bowed. The way he was standing, it looked almost as if he was crying. Wait, what was she thinking? Of course he was crying! What else would he do while letting go of something he obviously loved? To comfort him, she gently placed a hand on his shoulder.
"Hey, it's alright," she said in a soft voice with a small smile. "It's for the best. Who knows? Maybe it'll even come back to visit you some day." Though, after a few more moments of silence Jay began to worry. "Spencer, are you alright?"
She started kneeling down so she could see his face when he turned around and shoved her. With a startled cry she stumbled back into the bookshelf, knocking it off balance. Before she had time to react, books began to topple off of the shelves. She had just enough time to look up and let out a terrified shriek before the entire bookshelf came crashing down on top of her.
Spencer stood, shocked, as he watched the disaster unfold. "Jay?" he called out quietly after a long moment of silence. "Jay, are you alright?"
No answer. The pile of books didn't so much as shift. The robin chirped, fidgeting with what was obviously fear. No other sound could be heard, there was no denying it. Jay was gone.
Spencer sighed and looked down at the little bird. "Look what you've done, you've gotten me into real trouble now."
Carefully and calmly, he put the lid on his shoebox and walked out the door. After glancing around to be sure that no one noticed him, he began to walk towards home. No one would even have to know he had been to the library that day. At least if no one knew he wouldn't get in trouble. There was no need to ruin his perfectly good plan.
As he strolled down the empty street, shoebox secure by his side, he began to think. He knew how he should have felt about killing Jay, even if it had been an accident. He should feel guilty. He had read all the books, when you kill someone they haunt you forever. But, instead, he was merely curious. Why did the bookshelf kill her? How did it kill her? What part of her did the bookshelf have to crush for her to have been killed? What did the body look like? Was there any blood? Spencer could have kicked himself for not examining the body before he left. But, then again, he could have never lifted that heavy bookshelf to get to her. Not on his own anyway.
Even though he knew he couldn't have possibly examined the body, it still bothered him. There was so much that he wanted to learn! There was no way he would be able to stop thinking about it unless he satisfied his curiosity with something else.
He walked for a few moments longer, getting frustrated now. Why couldn't he think of anything to keep him preoccupied? Normally he was very good at thinking of things like this, but right now it seemed as if he wouldn't be able to come up with something if his life depended on it. Just as he was about to give up, a faint chirp at his side caught his attention. Almost immediately an idea began forming in his head and a smile crossed his lips. He gently pulled up the lid of the shoebox just wide enough for him to peek inside and grinned at the little bird.
"Hey, Robin, how would you like to play with me?"
Spencer poked his head through the front door. He spotted his mother doing dishes at the sink and his father reading at the kitchen table. Neither of them were looking his way. Keeping his eyes locked on the both of them, he silently made his way over to the steps. He then raced up to his room and silently closed the door behind him, clutching his shoebox to his chest. For a moment he stood perfectly still, listening to the little bird flutter inside the box. Carefully, he sat the shoebox on the bed and peeked inside. The robin flitted its wings and chirped at Spencer, hopping around and looking for a way to escape. Spencer was just about to open the box and take the robin out when he heard footsteps on the stairs. Quickly, he stuffed the box under his bed and grabbed a book. By the time his father stepped inside of the room, Spencer was relaxing on the bed looking as if he had been doing so all along.
"You're home early," his father said, leaning against the door frame.
"I decided not to go to the library today," Spencer said, looking up from his book and adjusting his glasses. "I went to the park instead, but I got bored."
"Why didn't you want to go to the library?" His father asked. "I thought you loved it over there."
"I do, I just didn't feel like going today," Spencer said with a shrug.
"Well, alright," his father said. "Dinner will be ready in a few minutes, so don't stay up here too long."
Spencer nodded and watched as his father walked out the door and back down the stairs. There was no way he could carry out his plan in that short amount of time. It would just have to wait until after dinner. He knelt by his bed and looked down at the trembling bird.
"Don't worry, I'll be back soon," he promised. With that he slid the box back under the bed, stood up, and walked down to the kitchen. He found his father had gone back to reading at the kitchen table, and his mother was on the phone.
"Yes, yes, that sounds about right," She said. "That poor girl, she was so nice… I wonder how it happened. Oh, Spencer will be so upset, he loved going to the library to see her. It really is a shame."
Spencer sat at the table with his father and listened carefully to the conversation.
"Yes, well, thank you for telling me," she said. "We'll be sure to pray for her family." With that she hung up and sighed, shaking her head.
"Who was that?" Spencer's father asked, not even bothering to look up from what he was reading.
"That was a friend of mine," Spencer's mother said. "She called to tell me that the nice librarian we had died today."
"What?" His father sat down his paper and looked up at his wife in disbelief. "How did she die?"
"Poor thing was crushed," she said. "Stumbled into a bookshelf and it fell on her."
"That's a real shame," his father said with a frown. "I really liked her. She was good at her job."
"She was, but there's nothing we can do about it now," his mother said, getting down a few bowls and ladling soup out from a pot on the stove. "She's in a better place now, that much we can be thankful for."
Spencer sat in silence, listening to his parents' conversation. Neither forced him to speak, as to them he was obviously grieving. So they would let him be as silent as he wanted. What they didn't know was that the boy wasn't grieving. Of course, he had already known about the librarian's death, so that didn't interest him. No, what caught his attention was the fact that they thought it was an accident. It couldn't be that easy to get away with it, could it? He was lucky they didn't suspect foul play or he would be in real trouble.
He sat through dinner without saying a word. As soon as their meal was over, he excused himself to his room and ran up the stairs. His parents listened for the sound of his door closing behind him before his mother let out a heavy sigh.
"Poor thing," she said as she collected the bowls off of the table. "He's so upset he hardly touched his supper. This has really got him torn up."
His father nodded his head in agreement. "It's a blessing he didn't go to the library today."
"He didn't?" His mother asked. "Where did he go?"
"He said he went for a walk in the park instead," his father said with a shrug. "He said he just didn't feel like going to the library today."
"That's odd," his mother mused. "He seemed excited to go. I wonder what made him change his mind." She paused as she had another thought. "Mark, what if he was there? What if he saw it happen?"
"I don't think so, Marion," His father said in deep thought. "He seemed alright when he got home, not like someone who had just seen something traumatic. Besides, why would he keep something like that from us?"
"You're right," his mother said, shaking her head. "He couldn't have seen it, not with how shaken he was with her death. I don't know why I thought that."
"What a mess," Spencer sighed as he began to pick the bloodied feathers off his floor. "I'll have to be more careful next time, I can't leave messes like this."
He tossed the feathers out his window and watched them flutter to the ground. Then he tossed out the bird's body to join them. With that carcass as torn apart as it was, he hoped that everyone would think a cat had killed it. After wiping up the remaining blood with a tattered shirt and tossing it in the trash can, he grabbed his notebook and checked over his notes. He had made sure to document everything that he saw in detail so he wouldn't forget anything. Although, he would definitely have to work on his drawings. At the moment all he could manage were sloppy sketches. He would be sure to practice before next time.
Though he had learned quite a bit from examining the robin, he still couldn't help but wonder about what he could have learned if he had gotten the chance to examine a human body instead.
Maybe that's what he would do next.
Final Thoughts: Well, that escalated quickly... Any questions, just ask. Please review!