Theo was lonely.
He lived by himself in a tiny little basement apartment near the outskirts of town; far from the busy city streets. He did not particularly desire human company and was rather grateful for his independence. However, on the rare occasion that he found himself growing excessively lonesome, Theo would sometimes find himself longing for a companion and there was no denying it.
As the holidays approached, Theo could feel himself grow especially isolated and miserable as he watched families gather together, joyful and excited for the season. Theo had no family and was therefore left to celebrate alone (though to say that he celebrated at all was an understatement).
Mrs. Sommers, a sweet and elderly widow who lived on the floor above him, would occasionally bring Theo some cookies and treats at around Christmas time, but she could not stay to keep him company for long since she usually made an effort to leave town in order to visit with her own relatives each year.
On Christmas Eve, Theo made his way into town to pick up a few groceries that would last him the week. He felt miserable in the cold and by the time he got home it was already dark.
Upon nearing his building, Theo saw Mrs. Sommers near the entrance, luggage bag in hand, speaking to Jerry Longe.
Jerry lived just up the street from them and was not much older than Theo. Theo supposed that Jerry was the closest thing to a friend that he had.
The two were bundled in warm clothing; Mrs. Sommers waiting for her son to come pick her up and Jerry simply staying to keep the woman company.
Theo made an effort to smile at both of them as he passed by, wishing Mrs. Sommers safe travels and to Jerry a good evening.
However, he did not fail to miss the mischievous grins exchanged between his two neighbours and the particular tone in which Jerry replied “You too!”. They both seemed rather anxious and excited in a suspiciously cheery way.
Theo decided to disregard the peculiar ambience and set off towards his own apartment downstairs in complete ignorance.
However, upon entering his flat, Theo could barely recognize the room!
It had been completely transformed with decorations; lights and garland covered most surfaces and a tall, bright tree stood proudly near the centre of the room.
Theo was astonished at the sight, his home having never been so vivid and colourful before.
He already knew who had set up the surprise, remembering the strange glances exchanged between his two neighbours, but was not sure whether he should be thankful or irritated.
Nevertheless, Theo made his way to the kitchen where he slowly began to unpack his groceries, staring blankly at the lights that had been draped messily across the cupboards.
After having put everything away, he finally sat down and pulled out a book. Though he did not particularly feel like reeding at that moment, he simply wanted something to do instead of wallowing in boredom.
As silence took over the room, Theo slowly began to grow tired and could feel his eyelids become heavy.
He was already drifting into a light sleep when an unexpected, high-pitched sound made him snap his eyes open in shock.
Theo listened intently for a few minutes, but the sound did not recur. All that could be heard was the dripping tap which he had yet to repair.
With a sigh, Theo closed his eyes again, half-waiting for the sound to return but growing increasingly tired as he felt himself fall deeper into the unconscious bliss of slumber.
But then, it came again.
The loud chirping was indisputable and this time it did not cease. Instead, it grew louder and louder as Theo approached his bedroom.
Upon opening the door with caution, Theo found himself staring curiously at a rather large object placed on top of a table and covered with a blanket.
With hesitation, Theo slowly approached the object before quickly pulling away the blanket and jumping back.
To his surprise, a large white cage was standing on the table. Inside, a beautiful red and green coloured bird was perched on a stick. The animal had been chirping, short and continued sounds coming from its mouth as it cocked its little head to the side and watched the man’s shocked expression.
Theo simply stared back at the creature, dumbfounded, his fingers fiddling with the small latch on the cage door. He had definitely not expected to find such a discovery in his bedroom without any notice and did not know how to react.
Theo then felt his fingers gently open the little door and cautiously put a hand into the cage, nearing the bird prudently.
However, as the hand got nearer, the bird decided to bite Theo’s fingers, causing him to yelp in surprise.
The bite was not hard and left close to no mark, but Theo had startled the little bird with his reaction and the frightened creature had instinctively flown out of the cage as a natural response.
Theo could only look down at his hand and then up at the animal who had begun circling the room in a wild state. He blinked a few times before fully realizing what had happened and began to panic.
He put his hands in the air, hoping to intercept the bird’s passage, but failed several attempts and decided that there was no way to catch the creature himself. If anything, it had only served to frighten it more!
With no other options, Theo left his room, shutting the door behind him so that the animal could not escape, and made his way up the street towards Jerry’s house.
‘Surely, if Jerry had been involved in purchasing the bird, he must know something about the species,’ thought Theo to himself as he trudged through the snow.
Upon arriving at his neighbour’s house, Theo knocked frantically at the door, despairingly picturing the chaos unfolding in his apartment at that very moment.
When Jerry opened the door tiredly, Theo realized how late it had been but explained the problem nonetheless with exasperation.
Jerry seemed slightly amused by the situation, but tried to hide it and agreed to go over and do his best to help.
After the two had gotten back, Theo opened the bedroom door carefully and they both entered with caution.
The sight before them was disastrous; objects having been knocked down and spilled all over the floor. It was difficult to imagine how such a little creature had caused such a mess. Theo even let out a small shriek of horror when he spotted some white and greenish dropping on his carpet.
Jerry simply sighed and shook his head as he observed the creature’s fast movements. “We will not be able to catch her,” he confirmed as the bird continued to fly frantically around the room “we’ll have to get her to come to us.”
Theo was confused. “And how are we supposed to do that?”
“Can you get a small bowl of seeds and vegetables?” Wondered Jerry “Maybe it will lure her back into the cage.”
Theo nodded, making his way back to the kitchen.
However, when he turned around to see that the bird had made its way into the living-room, he realized in terror that he had forgotten to close the bedroom door behind him!
“The bird’s going to destroy the entire house!” He yelled frantically as he stared up at the creature flying recklessly in the open space.
“Well, there’s nothing we can do but wait.” Sighed Jerry as both men took a seat on the couch.
“I’m sorry this happened, it was supposed to be a happy surprise!”
“It was a surprise all right.” Grumbled Theo under his breath, not meaning to sound rude but quite annoyed at the situation.
The two sat in silence for a while before Jerry spoke up.
“Her name’s Holly-Jolly, by the way.”
Theo gave him a confused look. “That’s a strange name.”
“Well, Mrs. Sommers and I couldn’t agree on one idea, so we combined both names.” He admitted sheepishly.
Theo chuckled, though he was still annoyed, and smiled at the thought of the peculiar name.
“So what inspired you to do all of...this?” He asked after a while, gesturing around to the decorations and to the bird who was gradually beginning to calm down.
Jerry shrugged. “I suppose we simply wanted to cheer you up during this festive season.”
“With a chaotic bird?”
Jerry chuckled and let out a breath. “Well, the bird was only meant to keep you company.” He explained with a smile and a shrug.
“So you signed me up to the life-long commitment of raising a pet?” Questioned Theo with an eyebrow raised.
“Well, we hadn’t really thought about that...” Admitted Jerry, trailing off.
The two fell into another silence as the bird began to grow increasingly tired. She had ceased to circle the room and was instead beginning to search for a safe place to perch.
“I don’t even know how to take care of a bird.” Admitted Theo with a heavy sigh.
“Well if you want us to take her back to the store-” Began Jerry slowly with disappointment.
“No, that’s not what I meant!” Exclaimed Theo, suddenly cutting his neighbour off in shock.
Jerry only smiled and chuckled. “We knew you’d love her!” He declared joyfully “She is a beauty, isn’t she?”
Theo nodded in full agreement.
“Well if you’re really so concerned about your lack of experience, I’m sure there are some good websites or books that can teach you how to care for her.” Assured Jerry, patting Theo on the back.
He simply nodded again with a hum of agreement.
“Where did that bird go anyways?” Asked Jerry, looking up and realizing that he had lost sight of the creature.
Then, Theo felt little claws rest on his shoulder and turned to see Holly-Jolly sitting on his shirt and staring at him curiously.
Jerry laughed. “She likes you!” He exclaimed happily.
With a smile, Theo held a seed up to the bird’s mouth. She devoured it rapidly, letting out a few more chirps, asking for more. Both men chuckled as Theo held another seed up to the animal, deciding that maybe this Christmas he wouldn’t be lonely.