It must have been kismet, or fate, or something, but when I got up that morning, I was startled to find that my pet parakeet, Destiny, had escaped from her cage. I don’t remember forgetting to click the latch closed the night before, after feeding her… but I can’t really be sure, I was pretty hammered. It had been a long day at the office and I allowed myself a little social sedative therapy to help me forget. A friend called just as I was leaving the office, asked me out for drinks, and – long story short – the bird was now gone, and I was enduring a serious headache, the likes of which haven’t been experienced since my failed attempt at running with the bulls; but that’s another story.
I looked everywhere for the ridiculous little bird, following little tufts of blue down feathers around my living room. It’s not that I particularly liked the bird. She was a gift from my younger brother, a one-time wanabe bird breeder. He promised me, when he’d decided to get out of the bird breeding business to become a suspension bridge salesman, and she was his last hatchling, that parakeets were gentle, fragile creatures. He promised me that she would die before the end of the month… “After all, she’s already nearly a year old. How long can a parakeet possibly last?” he asked in his rhetorical ‘don’t you dare try to answer that question’ tone. So I took the bird. Two years later, and she was still hanging on, squawking for her breakfast every morning like some demon from the ashes of a charred cathedral during the height of the Crusades.
Destiny had deserted me, and although I was secretly elated at the prospect of the silent meditation such an event would bring into my life, I’m also an animal lover, which means I had to find her and make sure she wasn’t injured. If she had found another human – or perhaps a parakeet family to spend her time with – I would give her my blessing, of course. But until I knew her fate, for sure, I couldn’t let go of Destiny.
Not finding a trace of her in the apartment, but noticing that I’d left the window over the kitchen sink ajar, I ventured onto the snowy streets in search of her. I wasn’t convinced that a parakeet could survive in Michigan’s first real snow of the year… three inches of stupid white… she’s a small bird, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep until I knew that I’d done all I could to bring Destiny back to me… or at least witness her untimely demise and thereby absolve myself of further guilt.
Out of some sort of strange, distorted desperation, I began singing a hung-over version of “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer”, thinking that a song might appeal to her… while secretly hoping it wouldn’t. Birds really don’t make great pets; well, at least not parakeets. They’re noisy, make a terrible mess in the bottom of the cage, and aren’t really all that snuggly. I’m more of a dog person, myself. But, once you take in an animal, just like little brothers, they become a part of your family – whether you truly enjoy having them around or not. Without Destiny, my life would be lacking something… intangible. It was important that I did all I could do to find her.
I’d walked about seven blocks, then turned on my heels for the frigid walk back home, when I spied her perched on the low branch of a nearby tree. She was easy to spot… blue fluff on a three-inch line of pure white. When she saw me, she immediately began singing a beautiful rendition of some classic hymn, I think… though I’m not sure where she ever would have heard it; I’m a country music fan, myself. As I stood watching her, gently coaxing her down to me (for truly, she was a part of my family), a bystander of indiscriminate origin sidled up to me and said, “Whatcha doin’ there?”
“I have to get her to come to me,” I replied, keeping my eyes on the bird.
“Why?” asked the bystander. “What's so special ‘bout such a little bird?”
“It’s Destiny. I invited her in, and life would be lost to me without her.”
“Huh,” said the bystander, looking first to me and then up to the bird with unabashed confusion.
Destiny, upon hearing my declaration, sincere in its tenor, flew down to my left shoulder, where she sat, contented in her life’s validation.
“Well, what’da know…” said the bystander. “It looks like Destiny has got your back.”
The bystander walked away as I felt the sickening warmth of bird poop seep into my sweater.
Diana Kathryn Plopa
I love being in love; writing; reading; mammals of nearly every kind, and especially micro-humans! Come enjoy my world with me - Secret Decoder Ring not required!!