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American

Topaz looked through the peephole. There was no one there, despite the door having been knocked on seconds earlier. He pushed open the door--and pushed something over. Down the steps of his front porch rolled a little wire cage with something small and green inside of it. It was cheeping.

“Oh my God,” he muttered. “Andy! You did not!”

“Mom doesn’t want it anymore!” screamed Andy’s voice from the driveway.

“That’s not my problem! What the heck am I supposed to--”

“I don’t know; it’s a green-cheek conure!”

“What?”

A pause, and then:

“The green-cheeked parakeet or green-cheeked conure is a small parrot of the genus Pyrrhura, which is part of a long-tailed group of the New World parrot subfamily Arinae! The term conure is often used for this parrot and its relatives in aviculture! It is native to the forests of South America!”

“What the heck, Andy!”

Topaz ran down the porch steps, just in time to see his sister sliding into her car. “We could’ve talked about this, you know!”

“COVID!”

“You literally went to a wedding last week!”

Andy just grinned crookedly and swerved out of the driveway. “See you New Year’s!” she shouted through her open window.

Shaking his head, Topaz walked back to the front door, muttering “Republicans,” as he went. He knelt at the base of the steps and looked inside the cage. Evidently unhurt, the soft green and gray colored bird was chirping softly, looking suspiciously at him with its beady black eyes.

“What the actual heck, Andy,” Topaz said exasperatedly, gently picking up the cage and bringing it inside. “What am I supposed to do with you?”

Topaz set the birdcage--upright, this time--on the kitchen counter and peered at the bird. “I guess you need a name, huh, little guy.” Topaz sighed. “Well, it’s the twenty-first century, I’ll let you decide. To the right for girl, to the left for boy.”

The bird stood stock-still.

“Non-binary, then. So, what about… Taylor? Everyone says that name is gender-neutral, but I’ve only ever heard of Taylor Swift.” Topaz sighed again. “Look, little dude, I really don’t know what I’m supposed to do with you. Here, Taylor doesn’t fit--what about, like, Laundry or Yardstick?” When the bird fluffed its feathers indignantly, Topaz replied, “Well, I really have no other idea, so let’s just go with Yardstick, okay, bud?”

Yardstick consented with the click of their beak.

“Great. Now… what do you eat? Hey, Siri,” Topaz dictated to his iPhone, “green cheek conure diet.”

“Green Cheek Conures should be fed on a quality South American pellet…”

“Fantastic.”

“...and given daily fresh fruit and vegetables.”

Topaz walked across the kitchen and hesitantly opened the fridge. It contained three half-gallon jugs of milk, a carton of eggs, a loaf of bread with just the ends and crusts, kombucha, Coke, tortillas, chicken fried rice, and a singular rotting banana.

“I don’t suppose you like pretzels, do you?” Topaz called sarcastically over his shoulder. “Because that and tortilla strips are all that’s in the pantry.”

Yardstick chirped encouragingly.

“Well, at least this means I won’t be spending the holidays alone.”

Topaz was in a peculiar situation. He owned a house, for some reason, which he lived in by himself, though no one knew quite why. His only sister, Andy, was in college, and his parents lived three hours away. Topaz saw his family about once every three months, and to the extent of their knowledge, he had no friends and hardly ever left his house. No one knew where his money came from, but he had a lot of it, despite the scarcity of the fridge.

Topaz shut the refrigerator door and went back over to where Yardstick was scratching the floor of their cage. Slowly, he unlatched the little door and swung it open. After a moment, Yardstick hopped onto the granite countertop and regarded Topaz with a wide round eye.

“Have I introduced myself? I’m Topaz, by the way. Weird name, huh? Talk to my parents. You’ve already met them, anyways.” Topaz sighed, gazing longingly at Yardstick. “Well, I guess we’re in it together now, little guy. Want to go for a walk?”

December 26, 2020 03:46

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6 comments

Holly Fister
14:10 Dec 31, 2020

It sounds like Topaz and Yardstick will be happy together!

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14:34 Dec 29, 2020

you picked about just my worst story ever to comment on haha, but, sure! i’d love to read one of your stories; do you recommended one in particular?

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Annette Lovewind
05:04 Dec 26, 2020

Well at least you tried.

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14:30 Dec 29, 2020

thanks lol

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