The house swarmed of turbulent chattering and elevated guests. Men raised their glasses with shimmering red wine, and women gossiped eagerly in the parlour. Mrs Hopp, a middle-aged woman, stood with the guests hesitantly, thanking everyone expectantly and clasping about a dozen gifts. "A very happy birthday to you, Kiera." a hoarse voice echoed into the vibrant blaring of the chattering of guests.
Mrs Hopp looked up, astonished. She deposited the gleamingly wrapped presents near the Christmas tree. "Mia. It's been so long." she smiled wistfully.
Mia grinned. "I know. Mind if we go outside for a minute?" she asked.
Kiera glanced around. "Of course."
Puzzled, she followed Mia apprehensively into the garden. Mia inhaled. "It's your gift. I hope you like it." she smiled hopefully, as she thrust open the back of the car and lugged a metal-brimmed cage.
Staring, with widened starry eyes and as her mouth dropped open, Mia bestowed the cage into her hands. A flamboyant, bright-coloured parrot, flapped its showy wings, as it squawked in protest.
"Do you like it?" Mia asked, optimistically.
Kiera plastered on a glittery, lip-sticked smile. "Yes, but. However, am I going to take care of it?" she asked anxiously.
Mia snorted. "Google it up. It's easy, I promise."
Kiera opened her mouth to say that she didn't have stable Internet, but Mia looked so bubbly and joyous, that she couldn't bring her heart to say so.
Kiera humped the cage into her room. As she glanced at the parrot, she groaned. "However, am I to take care of you?" she mumbled, gently stroking the feathered parrot.
As evening arose, the guests tumbled out of the house, yelling their last goodbyes, and concluding their conversations.
Kiera stared at the parrot, exhaling. "What shall I name you?" she beamed, perching at the edge of her bed, and gawking at the feathered wings of the parrot. "What's your name?" she asked gently, fingering the bars on the cage.
Unexpectedly, the parrot answered, "Squawk, Harp, Harp."
Kiera cocked her head to a side, puzzled. "Harp?"
"Harp." the parrot screeched.
Prodding one finger in her ear, she heaved the cage onto her bedside table. "Okay then, Harp. You earned your name." she grinned.
Kiera flopped onto the bed. "I suppose you need something to drink. Will water do? Or do you take juice?"
She groaned. What was she doing? Was she really stupid enough to strike a conversation with a parrot?
She pulled up her laptop eagerly, and typed, "does a parrot drink juice?"
Kiera read the search results out aloud. "Parrots can take juices, but it needs to be 100% made up of fresh fruits. Soda or caffeine, however, can be extremely hazardous to your parrot," she muttered.
Kiera exhaled. She dumped the laptop into the drawer and fingered her forehead. This was so confusing.
Kiera flowed down the stairs and popped open her fridge. The scent of damp bread and musty leftover chicken from yesterday filled the room. She searched the fridge for a tall apple juice carton. On second thoughts, maybe water would be better?
Quietly, she filled in a platter of water, and one with maroon-coloured, yellow-ish apple juice. She thrust it into Harp's cage reluctantly, smiling. "Choose your drink, Harp."
It looked loathly at Kiera and pecked at the water. She sighed, as she removed the apple juice platter and watched Harp gulp down the water. Now what?
"Food. Hmm? Do you take Cheerios? Maybe not. Broccoli? Nope, I'll bet that's gross. How about avocado?"
She whipped up her phone this time and typed quickly in the search engine. Can parrots eat avocado?
The Internet collapsed. She cursed softly under her breath. "Just my luck." she hissed.
She decided to text Mia instead. Hey mia, just wanted to ask if parrots can take avocado? my internet crashed. ugh. :(
She was not responding. You know what? She didn't care about that stupid parrot. She'll just give him avocado toast. He'll have to manage by himself.
Five minutes later, a plate of avocado toast was sitting in Harp's cage as Kiera looked expectantly. He pecked at it, nibbling gently at the edges. Suddenly, a text message bloomed up, just as Harp gobbled the toast.
It was from Mia.
No!!!! parrots can have trouble breathing, it can lead to kidny failure or death in some cases.
Kiera gaped as the phone tumbled onto the floor. "Naughty boy. Harp, spit it out. Now. Spit it out!" she yelled, flinging her arms onto the parrot desperately.
The parrot squawked.
Kiera lay sprawled onto her bed, her hands on her forehead as she turned pale.
Whatever was going to happen to Harp, she didn't know.
A few days later, Harp was in the vet clinic with an agonized Kiera and an annoyed Mia. "Name, ma'am?"
"Kiera Hopp. I'm twenty-four years old, and my parrot has trouble breathing," she responded impatiently.
Mia sighed. "I told you not to give anything to the parrot before checking with me or googling it up first." she lectured, smoothening her hair and glancing worriedly at Harp.
The receptionist nodded. "You may bring the cage in with you. Your appointment is at door number four."
The two women fumbled towards the door, pushing it open and setting the cage onto the wooden table. The vet looked at Kiera seriously. "You should never give any parrot, avocado. It has persin in it, and it can cause breathing difficulties. Your parrot nearly had kidney failure." she scolded.
She spooned some medicine into the parrot. "There is no cure for avocado poisoning. But, we will do our best," she said solemnly, injecting something into the parrot as it squawked weakly.
Kiera fingered the soft feathers. "I'm so sorry, Harp. You didn't deserve this," she whispered, as tears fell onto her flushed cheeks.
Surprisingly enough, Kiera was allowed to bring Harp home. He had a small problem with his left kidney, but he was healthy after a couple of weeks and regained his appetite. Kiera sighed, smiling. "I knew you'd be better. I knew it." she beamed, kissing the top of the parrot's head.
A few months later, Kiera had visitors over. Her two nieces, Hazel and Willow, were both eight. They made polite talk with Kiera as they stared at the grown parrot, fascinated. As Kiera and her sister proceeded to the kitchen to chatter, the two grinned at the parrot, touching the cage, and talking softly to Harp.
Kiera smiled at them. "You may feed him fruit from the plate in the kitchen," she answered.
The two of them bounced eagerly to the fruit basket. Hazel picked up an apple.
Willow picked an avocado.
The parrot pecked eagerly on the avocado and the apple, screeching and shrieking in delight.
As Kiera got up, to leave for the washroom, she looked at Harp's cage and turned pale. "What fruit is he eating, girls?"
"Avocado and apple." Hazel hopped up onto the couch brightly.
Kiera's mouth dropped opened as she let out a piercing scream. "No. No." she rasped, choking.