In the old times, miners would bring canaries to mines as an alarm for toxic or explosive leaks. If it died, they should evacuate. My grandchildren present me with a canary for a similar security motive.
It is yellow with some black feathers on the head and wings. I have to admit it is a beautiful fellow with lively, curious eyes. As soon as my grandchildren leave the house, I open the gate, letting the bird escape. I don't know how to treat a canary, and I don't like to be warden of anyone. This house already has a prisoner, and it's me.
The canary promptly flew away. It spread its wings, leaving by the open window, and becoming a yellow dot on the horizon. Freedom, at least one of us must-have. I turn my wheelchair to return to my simple life and my books. I had my flowers to press, my occupation in those years.
Its tweets woke me up from my thoughts. It was in the window looking at me, measuring me. I tried to cast the canary away, but my attempts only made it enter further on the house. It landed on my table. Now, the bird was evaluating my work. It starts to jump around my dried flowers. Could it be thrilling with my work? No, it is just the hallucination of a solitary man.
Now it was over the top bookshelf, like an eagle gazing at my office room. I granted its freedom, but it prefers to mock me. He could be anywhere by now, but it stays in this room with me. In its place, I wouldn't make such a choice. I exit the room.
The sun is settling down, and it's time to have my tea. Now I need to make it by myself. It is not a difficult task, just one that I would prefer someone did for me. I think nonsenses, as free time is something I have the most.
The canary enters the kitchen when I am selecting the herbs. It is on my coffee table, watching my work. I tried again to cast it away but only made it come closer to me. It is a strange bird. I finish my tea and retreat to my office. For my amusement, the bird took a ride on my chair. Silly bird.
I was tired of trying to cast it away. If it wanted to share the apartment with me, whatever. The thing was too tiny to bother me anyway.
I'm tired to refer the canary as a bird or it. A roommate must have at least a name. The polite way would be to ask its name, but I don't understand bird, remain to me to give it a nickname. I don't know if it is male or female, I am not a biologist, and it doesn't matter. I was tempted to call it silly or stubborn, but when I was a kid didn't like these kinds o nicknames. I am not so creative with words, so I start to call it Tweet.
Tweet is an early bird. When the sun rises, it wakes and flies through the window returning half to an hour later. Mourning exercise that I also should make. I don't know what a bird should eat, but Tweet likes to eat the crumbs of my sandwiches and the rest of my fruits. I would throw that away anyway, so this doesn't bother me.
Other things bother me. Tweet leaves feathers all over the house. It likes to shit on my tables. I can't forget water around, or it dunks in it, making a mess. It performs singing contests against other birds in the neighborhood. The most uncomfortable thing is the pleasure it finds looking at me.
Sometimes Tweet just watches me by a window or the top of a shelf. Sometimes Tweet lands on my wheelchair and looks by my shoulder at what I am doing. When Tweet is watching me, it stays silent. The bird moves its head a lot and sometimes jumps as it was exciting. I don't know what fun he finds in my routine.
I wake up at five in the morning and make my breakfast. I eat it watching the city by the front window and listing to the radio. After that, I do my doctor's prescribe exercises. I do my bathroom routine, and I go to buy my newspaper and magazines. I prefer that way than have them deliver. I need sunshine and fresh air, all without people to pity me or see me struggle with the sidewalk and the streets not made for the elderly or people with disabilities. My afternoons are for medical appointments, sporadic family visits, and pay the bills. At night I dedicate myself to my hobby.
I am trying to teach Tweet to use old newspapers as a toilet. I have piles of them, and it can make the mess it wants on them. Until now, the little bird seems to prefer reading the news than use them as a bathroom.
A month has passed, and I bought bird's magazines. I ask my old friend at the magazine stand to indicate to me one. I learn a lot about canaries. If the fellow keeps returning to my apartment, I need to have a better relationship with Tweet.
I bought a fountain, so it has plenty of water to drink and soak. I put it on the kitchen sink. I purchased a mix of grains and a feeder that I hung on the front window. I don't care if Tweet likes to eat my meal's crumbs, but it is not enough for a bird, even a small one. Tweet seems to like the improvements in the apartment.
Sometimes Tweet brings some friends to the apartment. Other birds with which Tweet share the fountain. Each day a different fellow comes with it, not only canaries but other birds' kinds too. I purchase the Book of American Birds. I need to know better my visitors and who I must blame for the mess.
Now I have a new hobby, give nicknames to Tweet's friends. Red Toupee, Swimerboy, Mustache are the usual, but I bought a book to keep track of all. I even took the old pastels from the drawer to draw the fellows. I was an illustrator for many publishers in my youth. They don't keep still for enough time to do a proper job. I need many visits to finish a draw, but I don't complain.
Now, Tweet brings me flowers in the morning. I don't need to buy anymore. Each day it appears with some in its beak. I think this is Tweet's way to pay its share of the rent. The yellow friend brings it to my office table and tweet until I come to see. Tweet seems to be proud of its work. I start to ask it about my work. We agree that one tweet is yes, and two is no. Tweet is very meticulous with its artist choices. We have this in common.
Sometimes I worry about Tweet. There are cats, hawks, and bad people outside, and Tweet can end up hurt. I know Tweet can take care of itself. Even though, every time it returns, my old heart saddles down. I start to watch it too, and I even bought a binocular to see Tweet flight. It seems to be good at it.
I made some draws of Tweet flying. I show the results, and I think that the little fellow liked it. I made a portrait of it to put next to the photos of my family. They visit me a few times every two to three months and have a spot on the wall. I understand it is right to provide the same treatment to those who show up daily. Maybe Toupee will be next.
My grandchildren come to visit me. They look sad when I told them that I free the bird. They told me that the bird should make my company after they have moved offshores and my Dorothy passed away. Just the name of her brought tears to my eyes, but I don't like to show weakness and worry my relatives about me. I told them that Tweet visits me every day. I show them the feeder and the fountain. I thought they don't believe in me, but Tweet shows up with its part of the rent.
I haven't had a good time with the boys in a while. I show my collection of dried flowers and my attendance book with the help of Tweet. I could show all I have learned about my visitors and even made sketches of them. I see the guilt in their eyes when they have to leave. They are busy boys, and they had a flight to catch.
I decided to show my photo album to Tweet. I had shown the portraits of its friends and family to others. It was my turn to do the same to Tweet. Getting the photos from the top shelf was a hard chore, but my legs handle it. Tweet land on the wheelchair to look at the album. I showed my little friend my life.
My days as an illustrator. The clubs I attend. The love of my life. Our marriage, the happiest day of my life. My work in a car company. The many photos I took of Dorothy. The joy she gave me in the form of my twin sons, my second favorite day. All the childhood of them. More photos of my love. The achievements of my boys. Each one of them, all victories to me. The day I retired. The day they found their better half, a lovely auburn hair girl and a great honest guy. The day my boys had their boys. More photos of Dorothy. My grandchildren's earliest achievements. Dorothy's last photograph, and as usual, she was smiling.
Dorothy was beautiful, from the day I saw her eyes to the day I buried her. She was the reason I didn't give up, even in the darkest days. People could say she had many flaws, a bad temper, or odd habits. Through my eyes, she was perfect, and she was magic. Everything she touched bloomed. She was my East Witch, and I was her Tin Man. And this Tin Man cried again, remembering her.
Her passage was painless. One day she slept on the sofa, the same brown one next to me, and never woke up. My heart went first that day, leaving the rest trapped in that wheelchair. Next week will make one year of my darkest day.
Tweet will make a year in my life tomorrow. Lately, it started to sing to me in the evenings. In the last hour of the sun, my friend delights me with its beautiful songs. Tweet songs transport me to other times, other places. For a moment, I am also a canary, and I have all the horizon to fly.
I can jump through this window, spread my wings, and see the city from above. In the air, there is no obstacle, only clouds, and other flying objects. Wind spiraling you, filling your chest and your dreams. You almost mingle on the horizon, becoming just a blur to the spectator.
During my feathering friend's song, I weigh less than a plume, the hole in my chest is just an itch, and there isn't a wheelchair. I can visit my loved ones at any time and sing them my songs too. For a minute or two, I am free. I always thank Tweet for the spectacle before my friend went for its nest on the top shelf.
I believe Tweet will soon have a family too. Another canary becomes a regular visitor, and the fellow sometimes sleeps with Tweet in its nest. I am so happy my roommate found its better half. That special someone who inspires it to sing, as I know, my best friend is a love bird too.