For the third time this week Elliot had been woken up by that goddamn bird. When he promised Maisie he would look after Topaz for her while she went away he expected it to be a lot simpler than this. Rubbing his hands down his face with frustration, and trying to wake up, he dragged himself out of bed and headed downstairs to the lounge. After the first creak of his foot on the landing the bird started going crazy as she knew her next shift of annoying Elliot had just begun.
“Gooooooooood morning!” She squawked in Maisie’s voice, as if it were her in the room. The way Topaz had copied her voice and other noises was uncanny. How can she do that? His thoughts were interrupted as she started smashing together two of her noisiest toys: the large bell in the center of her cage, which didn’t have a ringer but still made a loud clang, against a kebab-style collection of colourful wooden shapes and jingly small bells. Whenever she did this, Topaz made sure that Elliot was watching, and her feathery face lit up with glee while he seethed. It was almost as if she had spent the last two days experimenting with all her most annoying tricks to see which ones pushed Elliot’s buttons. Once she had that figured out, she pressed his buttons over and over as her form of entertainment. Elliot seriously doubted he could cope with this for two full weeks.
Elliot had a bird when he was younger, but it was a budgie called Charlie. Charlie was far more interested in looking at himself in his little mirror, singing as if to woo himself. He barely paid any attention to Elliot and was extremely easy to look after. In comparison, it felt like looking after Topaz was in a league of its own – she had her wits about her and paid attention to her surroundings.
Maisie had left careful instructions on how to feed Topaz during her stay, which was a lot more complicated than the budgie. It included rotating a mixture of favourite fruits and vegetables. Maisie put on her ‘mum voice’ when she told Elliot how important it was to follow the schedule, to stop Topaz getting bored or acting out. Elliot had his doubts about that. With a stern glance to Topaz and a sigh, he looked over todays’ selection of food to be given. Today had chunks of fresh apple, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, plus the usual water. He prepared the food and placed them into the handy little pots that slotted into the cage and walked over to Topaz.
Topaz’s cage was rather grand – a large white cage that was easily two meters tall and one meter wide. In the middle, fixed to the front and back, was a long wooden perch. To the left was her jingle-less bell, with the kebab-style on the left outside edge. To the right were a cuttlefish bone, supposedly to help with keeping the beak smooth, and then the remains of a toy that Elliot could not figure out what it used to be. It seemed Topaz had gotten bored one day and decided that was the end for that toy. Topaz herself was equally as grand. A large bird that was mostly grey, all except her tail that was a regal red and her eyes that were yellow. Each foot had three prehistoric-looking toes with sharp talons and a curvy pointed beak to match. As Elliot started slotting in the pots of food, Topaz climbed the walls of the cage down to the new pots by hooking her beak through the bars and swinging her legs to grip on. She manoeuvred herself to each pot to inspect its contents. Elliot watched with intense awareness, witnessing the strength of her neck during the few moments it was only her beak keeping her on the side of the cage. She came down to the pot of seeds and stuck her head in to pick one up. She used her grey tongue to swirl it around her mouth and fixed her eyes on Elliot’s, as usual. Then she launched the seed out of the cage and picked up three more to launch them in quick succession. Once she spotted Elliot’s flaring nostrils, she puffed up her little chest in triumph.
“Are you serious? You’re acting like my little sister when she was six; throwing her toys of out of pram for the hell of it!” He bent down to pick up the seeds, absentmindedly leaving his fingers curled around two bars of the cage. Topaz saw her opportunity and nibbled at his fingers.
“Argh!” he whipped his hand away, completely unscathed, and looked up to see her cocking her head to one side and trying to display concern. Elliot knew better, this was her trying to be coy, trying to act like an innocent little bird who would never think of hurting him. Well, he could see right through that façade.
“Don’t you get too smug in there or I’ll set the cat on you! Isn’t that right Sootie?” Sootie looked up with the minimal amount of interest she could muster at the mention of her name. She looked at Topaz, let out a sleepy sigh, and snuggled back into a ball of black fluff.
“Great threat Sootie, thanks for that.”
Maisie had mentioned about letting Topaz out of her cage for a few hours each day to let her stretch her legs and wings and to get rid of some energy. Elliot hadn’t mustered up enough courage over the last two days but seeing as Topaz was getting cheekier by the hour, he thought he better let her out. She had something as an extension to her cage to help her get in and out easily – it was a pole on tripod feet that stood level with the door to her cage and you could clip on a ladder with a gentle incline for her to climb in and out of the cage with. Elliot set that up and realised that after her little performance with the nibble he was reluctant to see what tricks Topaz would pull when there weren’t any barriers between them.
He looked around the room, looking for options. It was an average sized lounge with the usual two sofas and coffee table set up in front of a TV. There was a doorway which linked the lounge with the kitchen diner and on the same wall as the door there was a window where the serving hatch used to be. Perfect, he thought. I can let her out and sit in the dining room while keeping an eye on her.
Elliot picked up a few objects he thought Topaz might take a liking to: a family heirloom pocket watch sitting on the TV stand, a feathery dreamcatcher hanging off the curtain pole, and a magic 8 ball. Topaz watched his every move with her beady yellow eyes. She wolf-whistled him when he bent over and tutted at him when he stubbed his toe on the corner of the coffee table leg. What an audience, he thought to himself.
Elliot got those bits to safety in the kitchen and grabbed the oven gloves on his way back. He went over to the cage, put the oven gloves on to protect his apparently attractive fingers, and slowly opened the cage door to lean on the extension. He hadn’t noticed Topaz watching him with amusement before he turned to walk away. He tried to walk in a controlled manner but quickly skittered to the door and shut it behind him. With hands that were starting to shake, he peeked through the window. Topaz hadn’t moved from her perch but let out a mimicked laugh at his expense.
“You cow.” He muttered.
Topaz strolled out of the cage with an air of confidence and surveyed the room. Her eyes found her point of interest: the sofas. She climbed down her ladder and hopped over to the middle of the lounge, eyeing up the red fabric before her. Just as she decided to go on up, something on the coffee table caught her attention. She hopped up there instead, which took some vigorous flapping, and sauntered her way over to a long shiny instrument with fifty buttons on it. She titled her head in curiosity and started pounding the buttons with her beak.
“Oh damn, the TV remote!” How foolish he had been to forget that.
Topaz managed to turn on the TV and was flicking through the channels, fascinated by the noises coming out. She flicked to the news which was covering the latest road accident and an ambulance was coming onto the scene. Topaz stopped on this channel and angled her head towards it, listening intently. After a few moments she turned and made eye contact with Elliot. When she was sure he was watching she started echoing the ambulance sirens at the top of her voice. She didn’t keep in time with the ambulance either, Elliot reckons she did that on purpose to really grate on him.
“Wee-WEE woo-WOO wee-WEE woo-WEE wee-WOO woo-WEE wee-WOO woo-WOOOOOOO!”
Despite there being a wall and panel of glass between them Elliot still had to cover his ears to dampen the piercing screeches of the bird. It was at this point that Sootie got up from her slumber, clearly inconvenienced by this rude interruption, and lined herself up with Topaz on the floor below. Sootie sat herself down and started swishing her tail and licking her lips.
Topaz took one look at the cat and turned her back. She hopped down onto the floor and started walking in the opposite direction. From the look on Sootie’s face you could almost imagine her rubbing her paws together in glee at the stupidity of this bird, oblivious to its predator so close. Sootie slowly gets up on all fours and stalks the cocky bird. Topaz hops behind the sofa, out of sight from Elliot and Sootie.
“Oh no! I forgot the cat was in there.” His stomach sinking as Elliot imagines the scene coming up next. He goes to the door, but it won’t open, it’s jammed.
“Not now, you stupid door!” Flustered that this is the time the door decides to stick. It does it regularly and of course it decided to stick at this very moment. The wood is slightly too big for the frame and he has meant to get it planed to make it fit better, but as he seldom shuts that door he hasn’t gotten around to it. He starts yanking, desperate to not give Maisie a tattered pile of feathers in a box at the end of the two weeks. It won’t budge. He puts his foot up against the wall and yanks again. Nothing.
“Argh!!” He dashes back over to the window to watch with pure hope. Topaz baited the cat the whole way around the sofa but keeping a distance between them to keep her hunting. They both came around the front, frustration and determination written all over Sootie’s face. They disappeared around the back with Topaz rounding the corner first. She stopped at the front of the sofa, dead center and turned to wait for Sootie.
“No, you stupid bird, go back to your cage!” His face pressed up against the glass.
Sootie rounded the corner and was pleased to find her prey waiting for her. She picked up her front foot as if to swipe. Before she could finish that thought Topaz puffed up every feather on her tail, wings, body and face and hissed. She hissed so loud Elliot could hear it over the TV sirens. Sootie shrank back in surprise. Her ears went back with wide eyes and mouth open. Her whole body froze with fear. Topaz, now double her size, took one strong step towards Sootie. The cat was not having any of that and jumped as high as she could, twisting her body in mid-air and ran for cover.
Topaz smoothed her feathers back down so that she was of normal size and carried on her adventure of exploring the lounge, which was now definitely her domain with Elliot and the cat out of her way.
Elliot calmed himself with the fact that he wouldn’t have to worry about giving back a dead bird anymore because she can fend for herself quite easily. However, he now started to worry about how on earth he would get her back in that cage without another showdown. Once he had gotten the door open, of course. He hooked his phone out of his jean pocket and brought up Maisie’s number. He hovered over the ring button. How bad would it look for him to be ringing her on day three for advice? He didn’t want to worry her or have her think he was incapable. Maybe he could just ask for her tactic in comparison to his. Yes, that would work. He hit dial.
“Hey, Elliot! How’s it going? I bet you’re having a great time with your new friend.” A cheery Maisie answered, without a hint of irony in her tone. The background was filled with chatter and music.
“Hey. Yeah, we’re doing just great. Best of buds we are.” He winced at his tone that was laced with sarcasm. Whoops.
“Um, sorry to interrupt but I just wanted your perspective on something. How do you normally get Topaz back into her cage after a few hours out? She’s had a good time this afternoon so I’m not sure she’ll go back willingly!” He tried to joke it off.
“Oh, that’s a simple one. She’ll normally trot back up herself when she’s had enough. She is a homebody really. Watch TV with her or something and she’ll put herself away soon.” She said, dismissively.
“Ah, I see,” trying not to let the doubt seep through, “great idea. I’ll give that a go, thanks! Have a great holiday!” He hung up before she could answer.
There was no way he was going to just sit and watch TV and wait for her to put herself away. That wouldn’t be as relaxing a scene as it sounded.
While Topaz strutted around her new kingdom, Elliot was pacing back and forth in the dining room trying to formulate a plan. He knew the sticking point would be the door that was still jammed. Once that was open, he would need to be ready so he could get the upper hand for a change.
Elliot ran up to the bathroom to grab a big towel and set that aside with the oven gloves in the dining room. His focus now was on that pesky door. He limbered and psyched himself up. Stretching his arms, shoulders and back whilst giving himself a pep talk along the lines of no door can beat him, he was the strongest guy around. Which at that moment may well have been true seeing as he lived alone. He wrapped both hands around the door handle, took a deep breath in and yanked. The door flung open as if it never had a sticking problem and flung Elliot back with it. He landed on his backside in stunned silence. Once the shock wore off, he sprang into action: he got the oven gloves on, stuffed the towel in his trouser waistband at his back and marched into the lounge.
Topaz was on the back on the sofa with a pen she had taken hostage. She had one foot wrapped around it and was putting every millimetre of it in her beaked mouth. She was completely unfazed by Elliot’s thunderous entrance which was what he was banking on. He made his way over to the sofa and faced her. He found his exacerbated voice, trying to lay it on thick.
“Now you’ve gone and stolen a pen, this is not acceptable Topaz!” with hands on hips. He went to grab the pen off her with gloved hands. Topaz threw out a laugh, put the pen in her beak and hopped off the sofa onto the floor. Perfect. Elliot carried on with the feigned annoyance and telling her off, riling up her cheeky side, making her feel like she was still ruling him. Topaz was loving every second, showing off the pen and taunting him with snickers. Elliot’s plan was working. At one point, Topaz turned her back to run away from him again and he took his opportunity. He grabbed the towel out from his waistband, scrambled to unfold it and threw it over her. The towel engulfed her where she stood. She froze. The pen dropped.
“Yes!” Elliot gave a little hop as he punched the air in delight. Gently, he bundled up the bird in her static state and took her over to her cage. He placed the bundle at the bottom of the cage and slowly lifted the towel. As he was closing the cage door, Topaz had registered exactly what happened. She angrily threw herself at the cage door just as it clicked shut, hoping to grab a finger. But she was too late. Elliot had bested her.
Elliot flopped on the floor opposite the cage with a sigh of relief. He couldn’t believe he pulled that off!
But then, in a wave of realisation, he wondered exactly what he would do the next time she was out. He looked over at the fuming bird, watching her devise a new strategy. Great.
They had a whole eleven days left together…
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This was such a funny way to handle the prompt :), I know the whole 'giving the animals a personality' thing is common, but for some reason the sheer level of Topaz's maliciousness was so amusing to read! I loved it, it was very fun and the dots at the end were hilarious as a herald of the suffering yet to come. The title was what drew me in the beginning, because it was so over the top and hilarious. Super fun read!
Thank you! The animals in this story used to be my pets a long time ago and the scene of being chased around the sofa did happen and Topaz did scare off the cat! I'm glad I managed to capture their personalities in this and that it was a fun story!
*based on a true story* I love it haha
Hi! Me again lol, I just wanted to tell you that the prompt reminded me of this story lol (the one with the unusual pet prompt, not that birds aren't that unusual...but they kinda are (?) Anddddd ahhh cute pets)
Oh damn, I shoulda saved this for the new prompt! Although... I do have a gecko so maybe I could write about him.. ahah! You got any ideas for this weeks prompts?
What?! A gecko? Just how many pets do you have? Also, geckos are cute..... But I've been since forever afraid of lizards when one fell on my head in the middle of a piano lesson.. And actually yeah, I was hoping on writing a story inspired by my music homework lol
Currently I only have the gecko but I've previously had the parrot, cat, 3 dogs plus a whole bunch more when my parents bought a farm. Its been a very animal-filled life so far! Wow! That sounds like an eventful lesson! Shame that one made you scared of them though! Oh brilliant! That sounds really cool, good luck with the writing!
Wow, that sounds great! And hectic (in a totally good way) We've had goats once, they ate the little avocado plants that took sooo long to grow
Great story! I was smiling the whole way through, lol there's something about birds that makes them soo cute and funny, and your story visualized that well :) And lol I'm in love with this line; “You cow.” He muttered. Great choice in bird names, btw :))
Thank you! This story was a true story with my cat and parrot from years ago. Topaz is a super feisty parrot that has given our family so many stories like this. I'm glad I gave it justice in the story to make you smile!
Ohhh it must be so fun to wake up to that :)) Cats are soo cute and so are birds....I can't imagine to own both of them together, otherwise I'll die from squealing too much
Haha it certainly was fun! I think what happened in this story was a defining moment for those two, Topaz made herself the boss of the house! We then introduced a dog to the mix which actually went ok! Topaz was still the boss and over time the cat and dog became snuggle buddies :) it was the cutest
Whattt? Cat and dog? Snuggle buddies? CUTEEEEEE :)))(