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I was born prematurely. I got a bit restless in that tiny egg and rushed to see the world outside. I admit it was not wise.

Anyway, I was outside, and I was not sure how long I would be in that beautiful, colorful, musical, charming world. Therefore, I needed to leave my nest and despite all the perils that threatened out there, I had to explore. The world was calling me!

When my mommy was away searching for some food for us, I sat on the edge of the nest and looked around. Green and blue, bright and blurred – altogether it was a mixture of beautiful colors. Scared but determined, I spread my tiny wings, took a deep breath, and soared into the air. 

That soaring was initially a failure. I didn’t realize how hard it is to fight against the wind. It kicked me back and forth and played with my weak body. I fell on the oak tree leaves, a couple of meters from the ground. I was disappointed but not sad. I will try again!

And I soared again. Once again, the wind threw me in the air, and I again fell on the blueberry bush branches. My determination to fly was strong. I was not giving up!

I knew that if I fell down to the ground, it would be hard to soar into the air, and therefore, I focused well. I waited until the wind dropped, spread my wings, looked up towards the sky, and tried again. This time, my wings worked better. They handled the weakened wind pretty well, and I was flying!

I felt sad that I left my nest without telling my mommy that I wanted to explore this world. But I was afraid I had not much time left. Something was telling me the clock was ticking for me. Was it because I was so small and weak? Was it because I had hatched too early? Not sure. All I knew was I might never discover what was out there behind this forest, and these hills. And I had to hurry to discover everything I could.

First, I was flying slowly and carefully. I looked around and admired giant yellow narcissuses, huge red forest apples, wriggly worms that feast on them, big colorful butterflies, and all other birds that were far bigger than me. I was so small compared to them, that I was ashamed of starting a conversation with any of them.

I flew for a long time. I had to stop and drink some water. I saw a stream flowing through the forest and I started descending. When I was only a meter far from it, I saw a big squirrel drinking water from it. I was afraid of the squirrel, and I landed three meters far from it. The squirrel called me: “Hey, what are you, little one? You look like a bee but you don’t have a round black and yellow body. And you don’t have a sting. You look like a hummingbird, but you seem way too small.”

“I am a bee hummingbird,” I answered shyly.

“Oh, I see. I have never seen one in this forest. Be careful. You are small and there are some dangerous creatures here. Wild cats and weasels can easily catch you. They are cunning and fast.”

“Thank you. I will be careful.”

The squirrel left. I looked around. There were many shadows in this forest. There might be some dangerous creatures lurking behind the trees. I got a bit scared. I tried soaring again but it was not easy to soar from the ground. After the third attempt, I managed to move just enough to land on a mulberry bush. But I knew I had to soar higher and finally in the air.

I waited for a while. I needed to focus better. When I felt I was well-rested and ready, I tried again. The third attempt was successful. I was flying. 

I flew over the forest, then, over the valley, and saw roofs from the houses in a village. I decided to explore the village. It was a sunny day and bright red roof tiles shone bathed in the sunrays. I landed on one roof. It was not the best decision. The tiles were hot and they burned my feet and claws. I started squawking in pain. The noise probably alarmed the cat that lived in the house. It appeared on the roof and started walking towards me. It seemed undisturbed by the heat of the tiles. I started panicking. The cat was big and angry-looking. I froze. Even though it was hot and my legs were burning, I couldn’t move. 

I closed my eyes and thought that I would die soon. All of a sudden, a swarm of buzzing animals appeared and rushed towards the cat. Their stings were pointy and sharp and I knew the cat was in trouble. After being stung a few times, it ran down the water spout, meowing loudly.

The buzzing creatures saved me. I thanked them and asked them what they were.

“We are bees. We thought you were one of us but when we came closer we realized you were a tiny bird. This cat is a nasty creature and we decided to help you.”

“Thank you! Thank you, so much!” I cried gratefully while soaring again. I joined their swarm and they led me to a linden tree nearby which was a safer place to rest.

“Why are you alone? Where is your mother?” The bees were curious.

“I left my nest because I wanted to explore the world. I am not sure how much time I have for that. I was born prematurely and I spent more time in my nest than other bee hummingbirds. I was weaker and smaller than any other bee hummingbird in our forest.”

“Hm, you should be with your mommy. That is the best place to be. She would show you the world when you are bigger and stronger. Don’t think about how long you will live. If you were with her, you would live longer and grow stronger.” The bees were stern and their buzzing was serious. They seemed concerned. I listened to their advice and promised to think about it. 

The bees offered me to stay in their hive until I got some rest and offered me their honey for lunch. I accepted happily. I was hungry and tired.

After rest and food, I felt stronger. I was thankful to the bees for their hospitality. I told them I would explore the rest of the village and the lake nearby and then go back to my nest and dear mommy. They were not happy with my decision. But they wished me good luck and off I went.

The village was quiet and sleepy during the day. People rested in their gardens, dogs played in the yards, and cats slept on the benches. I decided to make my temporary home on a cherry tree branch. The tree was tall and I hid among its leaves and observed. I loved watching cows on the fields in the early morning, roosters waking up the whole village, and ducks swimming in the pond. Early morning was my favorite part of the day. Kids went to school holding their hands and hopping merrily. Mother cows cuddled with their calves. Mother goats nursed their kids. Pigeons cooed on the roofs. Sparrows wished me a good day. The village was lively. The smell of baked bread and fresh milk filled the air. The bell from the village church rang a few times every morning at 6 am. I loved all those sights, smells, and sounds. But I started feeling lonely and missing my mommy.

On the second day in the village, I saw a big anthill near the old oak tree. I was curious and I landed near it. Ants saw me and curiously looked at me. Some of them waved hello but they didn’t stop working. They chirped happily as if their work was a pleasure. I didn’t want to disturb them. They seemed busy. I admired their synchronous working and wondered if they ever got bored. When I was about to soar again, one of them asked me: “Hello there! What are you and where are you coming from? I’ve seen you resting on that cherry tree alone. I haven’t seen your parents or siblings.”

I told my story to the ant. He seemed confused.

“Explore the world? Why would you want to do that all alone? Aren’t you happier when you are with your mommy? I can’t even imagine being on my own. I would feel so lonely and sad.”

His words made me think that maybe he was right. I started missing my mommy, our nest, and our forest.

The ant talked about his work, how much he liked it. He also talked about his family and his fellow ants. While he was talking, he didn’t stop working. He kept going back and forth carrying sunflower seeds and placing them in front of the opening of the anthill. Other ants took them from there and carried them inside the anthill. I wondered if they ever rested. Probably only during the night. And I wondered if they ever had holidays. I doubted that. They enjoyed working so much that they probably didn’t want holidays.

That evening after having a nice dinner of some sunflower seeds, I flew to the cherry tree and was about to fall asleep, when loud hooting shook me up. It was so loud as if it had been coming from the very cherry tree. I didn’t know that trees can hoot. But then, a huge owl appeared and landed next to me. 

“Don’t be afraid, little one”, it said kindly, “there is a hole in this tree. That hole is my home. What are you? You are as small as an insect but you look like a bird.”

“I am a bee hummingbird,” I answered.

“I see. And where is your nest? It is night time and you should not be far from your nest and your mommy.”

I told my story to the big owl. And the owl seemed surprised.

“All alone at night, and so far from home?” The owl asked worriedly.

“Don’t you know that all kinds of evil animals sneak out of their habitats at night and look for something to eat? You are easy prey for them. Go inside my hole and rest there. I sleep during the day and hunt during the night. The hole is all yours until the morning.”

I thanked the kind owl and went to her hole. The hole was spacious and warm. I settled comfortably on a bunch of leaves. Before I fell asleep I made up my mind to fly back to my nest and to my mommy the very next morning.

Some strange noise woke me up. I could see the sunrays peeping through the tree hole. It was early morning. I couldn’t enjoy it since the creepy sound made me restless. I pulled my feathers close to my body and waited. After a minute, a slithery snake appeared at the opening of the hole. Its scary eyes were wide open, and its brown scales shone on the sun. I was frightened. I didn’t know much about snakes but I felt this one didn’t come to wish me a good day. I had nowhere to run away. The owl seemed to be gone, probably looking for some food. I started trembling with fear and closed my eyes. I heard the snake hissing wickedly, and I thought I would die soon. I thought about my mommy, how much I loved her, and how much I missed her…

Gentle touch woke me up. It was warm and cozy. I opened my eyes. Dimmed light bathed my face. I looked around. I was in a nest, but this nest was not made of leaves. It was made of glass. There was a tube attached to my beak. But I couldn’t see my beak. It disappeared. And instead of it, there was a hole. I couldn’t see my wings and my feathers either. Someone pulled them out. Maybe that snake! Or perhaps, they fell off. I looked around again. There were no leaves and trees. I was in a room with a glass door and glass windows. It was written NICU – Neonatal Intensive Care Unit on the glass door.

I was wrapped in some cloth. I couldn’t complain. I felt comfortable. I was just confused. What had happened to me? 

A gentle voice said: “Hello little one, you really scared me. I thought I had lost you.”

I knew that voice very well. It was my mommy. I turned my head to the left and I got even more surprised. My mommy was a blonde woman. I could see tears in her eyes, but she was smiling.

What happened to us?

“The doctors told me you would probably not survive since you were born 10 weeks prematurely. They have kept you on the ventilators for so long, and you slept for so long that I feared you wouldn’t wake up. But I never lost hope.”

My mommy hugged me gently paying attention to the tube that was attached to my mouth. Her warmth gave me strength and I started wriggling in the cozy nest. I wanted to leave it and hug my mommy back. She watched me curiously, love sipping out of her eyes. I had missed her so much, and I was happy to be next to her no matter that we were in this strange nest.

She called someone: ”Nurse, nurse! She seems better! Can you please come and check? I would like to hold her. Please.”

The lady called Nurse came. She was dressed in white and smiled.

“She looks at us and moves as if she had more energy. Let me call the doctor.”

The Nurse left and came back shortly. There was someone very tall in green following her. He looked at me, pressed something cold on my body, and moved it from one spot to the other. Then, he removed the tube from the hole where once my beak had been and took me in his arms.

“She is recovering well. Such a fighter! I believe you can hold her now. She would love that.”

My mommy took me in her arms. I snuggled comfortably there in her bosom and listened to her heartbeats. It was the best nest ever – my mom’s warm bosom.

“You are my little bee hummingbird. You are brave and beautiful. No matter how small you are, you are resilient. Mommy loves you so much!”

I could see tears falling down her cheeks. Those were tears of happiness.

“We will soon go home. We will leave this cozy nest and wish goodbye to all the brave bee hummingbirds that are here and pray they go home as well very soon,” she said pointing her head towards her right.

I slightly turned towards the right and then I saw them. Dozens of little bee hummingbirds without feathers and beaks were attached to the tubes that I also had had. Each one of them was in a glass nest sleeping. They seemed tranquil and at ease.

“They are like you. They rushed to come out and see this world. This world is beautiful but also overwhelming for such little babies. You need your mommies to show you around and explore it together. You are the safest with your mommies.”

I listened to her and watched all those little bee hummingbirds. I was surprised that I was not the only one who had rushed out of the tiny egg. And I was glad I had been saved from that awful snake. My mommy, that tall Doctor, and kind Nurse saved me. I was forever grateful to them. And I hoped all these bee hummingbirds would leave this glassy nest and go to their homes soon.

Bio: Ana Vidosavljevic was born in Serbia and currently lives in Indonesia. She is a teacher, writer, surfer, and mother. She is the author of two collections of short stories, MermaidsPlaces, and a memoir, Flower Thieves.


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