Summer Bird Stories

Family-Friendly Short Stories, Cartoons, and Illustrations

Charlie’s Room: New Growth

It was a chilly fall morning, the perfect weather for warm mittens and hats and scarves. The light at that time of day made everything glow. The colors of the last of the fall leaves seemed brighter, and the light streaming past houses and fences and branches shone a spotlight on unexpected things. As Charlie and Isaac walked through the drifts of crunchy fall leaves, one of these wandering morning sunbeams hit a dark greenish rock on the sidewalk.

“Look, that rock is glowing.” Charlie hurried forward and scooped up the rock to show his dad.

Charlie’s back was mostly turned against the light, and the light touched the edges of his hair, giving him a halo. Isaac smiled and looked into the mitten nest. “It is a nice rock. It’s sort of leaf shaped. I like it.”

Charlie looked down at the rock. In the shade, it wasn’t nearly as interesting. “I guess so. Can you hold onto it for me? I would have to take off my mittens to unzip my pockets.”

“Sure.” Isaac took the rock and they continued their walk. When they walked in the door, Marianne was waiting for them. “There you are! I was about to go look for you.”

“Did you need help with something?” Isaac unwrapped his scarf and started folding it up.

“You both forgot, didn’t you?”

Charlie’s eyes grew wide and he grinned. “It’s greenhouse day!” He looked down at his pile of coat-mittens-scarf-hat, and shuffled over a step to tug off his shoes without untying them. “I need to change into my garden club tee-shirt!”

Meanwhile, Isaac put his folded scarf into his coat pocket and found the rock. “Wait,” he called.

Charlie was already halfway down the hall, but he stopped and looked back, eyebrows raised. Isaac held out the rock. Charlie rolled his eyes, but he came back to snatch it from Isaac and hurry back down the hall.

“How long will you be gone?” Isaac asked.

Marianne shrugged. “It depends on how many people signed up to give tours. We may be late. Charlie has a list of questions to ask. This may be the year we finally decide to build our own.”

“I could come along and take measurements.” Isaac wasn’t as interested in the contents of all the greenhouses, but he liked the idea of a new building project.

“We can do that. I already have the tape measure in my purse. You really need to get the doorknob fixed before someone gets stuck in the bathroom for good.” Marianne patted his arm. Then she turned to yell down the hallway to Charlie. “Are you coming? It’s time to go.”

Charlie came racing around the corner, wearing his garden club shirt. He wiggled back into his shoes while pulling on the coat-mittens-scarf-hat pile. Marianne dressed warmly as well, and opened the door. In a moment they were off on their adventure.

It didn’t take long to change out the old, worn-out doorknob. Isaac twisted the knob, and watched to see if everything was working well. It was.

Next job on his fix-it list was the drawer pull on Charlie’s dresser. He examined it a few days ago when Charlie complained about it. It was cracked down the center and had to be replaced.

When he entered Charlie’s room, his eyes were drawn right away to the leaf-shaped rock on the floor by one of the legs of the loft bed. It was sitting in a stray beam of sunlight and looked like it was glowing. Isaac smiled and picked it up to move it to the desk. As he straightened up, he noticed an odd twig that looked like it was growing out of the bed leg.

He leaned in and examined it. How strange. That definitely had not been there before. He set the rock on the desk and decided to worry about it later.

Turning to the dresser, he fixed the drawer pull. It didn’t take long. When he turned around again, the twig had sprouted leaves.

Isaac stepped closer and looked more closely. There was another twig growing higher up on the other side of the bed leg. He turned and narrowed his eyes. The desk chair beside the still-glowing rock had also sprouted.

He picked up the rock and took it out to the garden, just in case. Things out there were supposed to grow. He came back in to clean up his tools. The bed and desk chair were already back to normal.

Later that day, after he cooked dinner for Marianne and Charlie, they all sat down to eat. Charlie happily told them about all his favorite greenhouse features and what he’d grow if he had his very own greenhouse.

“I took a lot of notes and measurements,” Marianne said. “I also have some phone numbers and permission to come and look again if we need to.”

Isaac smiled. “Perfect.” Then he turned to Charlie. “I had to take your rock outside.”

“What rock?”

“The greenish one from our walk. The one that looked like a leaf?”

Charlie shrugged. “Oh. That one. Huh. Let me tell you more about the greenhouses.” He didn’t mention the rock again.

The next day, Isaac looked out in the garden when he was filling the bird feeder. The rock was gone. He was okay with that.

Finding Purpose

I was talking to some one this week who said that they have been trying to figure out their purpose in life.

I think that’s a fairly common concern.

As I get older, I’ve realized that doors of opportunity are closing, and there are things that are no longer possibilities.

Instead of focusing on what I can’t do, it’s more helpful to focus on what I CAN do.

How do I know what I can do? ? ? ? How will that help me know my purpose?

  • make a list of talents
  • ask trusted friends
  • ponder and pray and listen
  • do a collage while thinking through your questions
  • brainstorm

Even if I don’t know the end result, I can know the next step. I believe there is a plan for each person to follow.

Everyone has a purpose. Everyone is needed.

Future Not-Telling

When Dylan looked into the mirror as he brushed his teeth, it wasn’t his face looking back at him. Stumbling backwards, he reached for the doorknob and took a deep breath preparing to yell for help.

“Stop. I won’t hurt you. I’m you from the future.”

Dylan stopped and looked at the mirror. “You aren’t me. You’re old.”

The man in the mirror winced. “Ouch. I was a mean little kid. I’m not old.”

Shrugging, Dylan opened the medicine cabinet, swinging the mirror towards the wall. He tapped around the back looking for a power supply or some kind of electronics.

“Don’t you want to hear about the future?” The voice called out from the other side of the cabinet door.

Dylan closed the door again and faced the man in the mirror. “Like what?”

“Before we begin, I do want to point out that I’m not old.”

“You have a beard.”

The man rubbed at his beard and frowned. “Beards are cool in the future, you know.”

“It doesn’t look cool. It looks old.” Dylan was pretty sure after all that this was not him from the future. He wouldn’t ever have a beard, even if other people said it was cool. He opened the cabinet again to figure out how the trick was done. He knocked on the back of the mirror.

“Dylan, Dylan, Dylan,” the voice said. “Stop that. I can prove I’m you. I’ll tell you something no one else knows.”

Dylan swung the mirror back partway, still holding onto the edge of the door. “Like what?”

“Um. I don’t know. Oh, wait. You dream all the time that you can fly. You have nightmares about carnivorous flowers. You cheat when you play solitaire.”

“Whatever.” Dylan crossed his arms. “What do you want, anyways? It’s not like I’ll really become you anyways. Not now that I’ve seen how stupid I look with a beard.”

The man in the mirror stroked his beard again. “I told you, it’s cool. Wait and see.”

“So, why are you here? Do you need to warn me about something?”

“Hmmmm.” Old Dylan thought for a moment.

Dylan rolled his eyes. “Did you forget why you came here? Told you you’re old.”

Old Dylan pointed at him through the mirror. “That’s it. I’m not telling you anything. You get to suffer.”

“I thought I was you.”

“So?”

“So you’ll suffer too.”

Old Dylan smiled. “Yeah, but I’ve already lived through it.”

“But maybe you could tell me some stocks to invest in or something and we’d both be rich.”

“You’d just waste all the money before I could spend it,” Old Dylan said.

“That’s what you think.”

“I’m you too, so you think it too. Hah!” Old Dylan crossed his arms across his chest.

Dylan swung the cabinet door open and knocked on the back of the mirror.

“Knock it off, that’s annoying and loud.”

“You’re old, old, old, old, old old, old.”

“That’s it, I’m leaving.”

Dylan knocked on the back of the mirror a few more times. When he didn’t hear anything, he swung the mirror back in place. Old Dylan was gone.

Years in the future, when beards were actually cool, Dylan didn’t grow a beard. But he was interested in time travel. He studied it extensively, with the firm belief it would someday be possible. When he joined a team inventing a way to visit the past through mirrors, Dylan volunteered to be the first test subject.

He convinced them to allow him to check in on his younger self so that they could see the effects of visiting a past self firsthand. After a bit of reflection, he decided to grow a beard just for the occasion. He thought it would be best to complete the loop. Plus it would be funny.

“You can’t tell your younger self anything about the future, you know,” the lead researcher reminded him. “You signed an ethics agreement.”

“Don’t worry,” Dylan said. “I won’t tell me anything.”

Flashback Video: Unlucky Thursdays

This story was originally posted December 8, 2016. It was posted again on May 3, 2019. It remains my favorite of the stories I’ve posted here, so I chose it to be the first of my flashback videos.

I had a lot of fun making the video. I hope you enjoy it, too. Please let me know what you think!

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