Ava took one look at her new drawing and folded it up, preparing to toss it into the trash can. She didn't believe in crumpling up papers; if you folded them they took up much less space in the trash.
But something stopped her from putting this particular drawing in the half-full can. On this piece of paper was something she had wanted since she was little: a Bernese Mountain dog. She had to admit, this drawing was decent...it almost made the puppy look alive. Yet again, it wasn't. And so she tossed it into the trash with purpose.
But she made sure that it lay on top.
Another blank piece of paper now sat in front of her, daring her to draw another dog. Frustrated, she folded it up without a single mark of pencil on it. Into the trash it went. Ava slumped onto her desk, face in between her arms and her near-black hair covering her face. She began to cry, silent tears sliding down her cheeks.
Ava's head jerked up, and her eyes grew wide as she saw a robin beating against her window.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
She tried to get it out of her head. She put in earbuds and listened to music on full blast; she watched YouTube. Nothing worked.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
It became more incessant.
Tap. TAP. TAP. Tap. Tap.
"Fine! I'm coming, just wait," Ava exclaimed, and started towards the window, but she stopped short by a few feet. She was talking to a bird. A bird. And yet it seemed to have heard and understood her; the tapping had stopped and the robin sat there, looking very pleased indeed.
"Whatever. I have nothing better to do," she said, then laughed in spite of herself. If this is what her life had come to, then she needed to get around more.
As she unlocked the window and lifted the glass up, she glanced around. The bird had gone.
Ava decided to keep the window open; the breeze was comforting, and it had always seemed to bring new inspirations to her mind.
But instead of trying to draw, she laid down on her bed, forgetting about her drunk father. Forgetting about her sister, who had died as a newborn. Forgetting about her mother, who left shortly after. And forgetting about the companion she needed, who would provide the support and comfort she needed in her messed-up life. Forgetting about a dog. And letting sleep overwhelm her, covering her in a blanket of peacefulness and content.
Ava awoke to a folded piece of paper in front of her, touching her nose just enough to give her a tickly feeling. Confused, she sat up and unfolded it, smoothing out the creases. It was the picture of the puppy. She glanced all around the room, looking up just in time to see a flash of red exit through the window.
She began to get an uneasy feeling, as if the bird was trying to tell her something. But she shrugged it off and once again neatly folded the piece of paper, tossing it into the trash.
Ava felt like resuming her spot on her bed and falling asleep once more, but instead sat down at her desk, picked up her pencil, and began to draw. Without thinking, she sketched out a round belly, a sharp beak, and feet clutching a branch of a tree. A robin now sat on top of the paper, staring at her with eyes so like the mysterious bird's, she folded it up. Into the trash it went.
Once again, a single piece of paper sat staring back at her on her desk. No ideas; no inspiration. So Ava crossed her forearms in front of her, laid her head down, and let sleep overcome her once again.
When Ava awoke for a second time, two folded pieces of paper now sat by her resting head. Her head snapped up, and her fingers once again smoothed out both papers without letting her mind decide if she wanted to or not. In front of her sat the drawings of the puppy and the robin.
But instead of flying out of her room, the real robin was perched on her windowsill, wings tucked neatly at its side. It looked as if it were trying to tell her something, but it didn't know how...
"Look, I don't want these stupid drawings!" Ava burst out. "I don't know why you're here, how you're doing this, or why you're doing this, but stop! The puppy is just a stupid dream, okay? Leave me alone!" And with that, she now crumpled up both pieces of paper and forcefully slammed them into the trash.
The robin didn't move and sat still, unblinking.
"Baah!" Ava yelled, flailing her arms, and she felt like a psycho. But at this point, she couldn't care less.
The robin remain perched on the windowsill.
Ava collapsed on her bed, unmoving. She wished that stupid bird would just leave, and she could pretend that none of this had happened. Her body shuddered with each sob that escaped her, and she felt embarrassed for crying in front of the bird. But why? Who cares what a robin thinks?
As Ava opened her eyes to the early morning sun pouring into her room, 3 pieces of paper now sat beside her; two crumpled and one folded. Moaning, she smoothed out the two crumpled ones, not even bothering to look at them. She knew what they were. But when she unfolded the third, she saw several drawn dollar bills scattered across the paper. At first, she didn't understand. But then it hit her.
She dashed to the robin, patted it on the head, and whispered, "Thank you."
Ava then snatched a piggy bank from under her bed and unplugged the bottom, revealing over one thousand dollars in cash and coins: savings from the last 12 years. She gathered all of it in her arms, raced down her steps, through the front door, revved up her car, and backed out of the driveway faster than she had ever done before.
That night, Ava lay in her bed with her new best friend, Milo. He was just as Ava had pictured him, and looked exactly like the puppy in her drawing.
Through the darkness of her room, Ava caught a glimpse of the robin sitting on her windowsill, wearing a look of pride and satisfaction.