He sat alone in his darkened dorm room with his eyes fixed on the computer screen. A few muttered curses and clicks of the mouse were the only signs of life as the hours ticked by unnoticed. A sudden rattling at the nearby window jolted him out of his stupor. A small bird was frantically pumping its wings and propelling its body into the glass. It had somehow gotten itself trapped in the room with him. Odd because the dorm windows didn’t open, a safety measure imposed by university officials so no one “accidentally” falls out. His eyes scanned the window frame and spotted a small triangular opening in the metal grating above the window. The dorm windows have no ledges for birds to perch on. Somehow his uninvited visitor had flown up seven stories and made a beeline for that narrow passageway. What compelled it to squeeze its way into this trap? Was it seeking shelter from the cold or fleeing some big bully bird? Or maybe it was tempted by the fragrance of a discarded Cup o’ Noodles on the desk.
          Traces of something he hadn’t felt in a while stirred inside him as he watched the little bird’s futile efforts to escape. His furrowed brow softened just a little. He stood up slowly, so he wouldn’t frighten the tiny creature and reached for his cell phone.
          “Hey, Mom, how do I catch a bird?” He wanted the point and click version and sighed when he had to slow down and explain all the details. “Should I throw a blanket over it?” he asked urgently.
          As his mom consulted with the bird people amongst her co-workers, he rummaged through the room for something, anything to help him rescue his charge from pummeling itself to death. He spotted a dilapidated Nike shoe box under his roommate’s bed.
          “I’ll call you back, Mom” he said and abruptly hung up.
          He grabbed the box and looked at the bird. He watched and waited. Eventually, the little waif gave up and sat with one eye cast wearily in his direction. As slowly and gently as possible, he cupped the box over the bird and trapped it against the window. Then he slid a plastic folder down between the box opening and the glass creating a makeshift cocoon. With his captive safely in tow, he charged out the door. Outside, the crisp air raised goose bumps on his sleeveless arms. He knelt on the ground, placed the box in front of him, and removed the cover. The little bird looked up at him, and he at it. They were kindred spirits now.
          No longer hindered by a wall of glass, the bird spread its tiny wings and flew off into the darkening sky. The tensed muscles in his jaw relaxed for just a moment. Recalling the pile of calculus homework awaiting him, he turned back toward the dorm and slogged up to his room. As he reached the door and patted his empty pockets, he realized that his key was still inside the room. He had locked himself out … again. He slumped down in the hallway next to his door to wait for the RA and contemplate his fate. He smiled knowing that at least one of them was free.

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