“Hey! Hey! Hey!” the cockatiel said.
“What?” groaned the parakeet, Kirbie, in the cage next door, “What on earth do you want now Peachy?”
Peachy was very hyper and was flying all around his cage, “Well, I was thinking-”
“My goodness! Were you now? What a miracle!” Kirbie replied.
Peachy had just woken the poor bird from his nap, and he was not very happy about it.
“Yes, I was,” replied Peachy, oblivious to the sarcasm. He continued flying frantically around in his cage.
“Well, for goodness sake, please sit down! You’re making me dizzy,” Kirbie said.
Peachy reluctantly complied. He landed on his small wood perch and folded his wings. Kirbie was very pleased that Peachy had calmed down. He began to eat while he waited for Peachy to say whatever ridiculous thing he had come up with this time.
Peachy had only been in the petstore for three weeks and the poor parakeet had just about lost his mind being caged next to him. Many times he had thought to himself:
I’d rather be caged next to a high-pitched hamster than this lunatic!
“We should break out!” Peachy yelled out confidently, jumping off his perch and flying down to the edge of his cage. He began pacing back and forth, waiting for a response.
Kirbie spit out his food and almost choked.
“Are you out of your mind?” Kirbie replied in shock.
“Well, I don’t know really,” Peachy said calmly, “but I do know that I don’t want to stay here and I don’t want to go to some random person’s house and live there. Have you heard any of the stories of what happens to some of the birds that leave here?”
Peachy looked at Kirbie with wide eyes. Kirbie stared back at him confused.
“They never come back,” he said eerily.
Kirbie looked at Peachy dumbfounded and shook his head.
“Peachy,” he started slowly, “that’s because they stay at their new homes!”
Peachy looked astonished, “Really! Well, that’s interesting. I’m still going to escape. I don’t like it here and I don’t want to live the rest of my life in a cage like this one. I want to be…”
He stared at Kirbie. Kirbie rolled his eyes in disgust.
“Free!” Peachy exclaimed.
Kirbie began laughing uncontrollably.
“Free?” he said, out of breath.
Peachy looked at Kirbie confused, “Well yeah, free. That’s what I said.”
It took Kirbie several minutes before he was able to compose himself and respond.
“Listen, kid, I don’t think you understand how this world works,” he sighed.
He almost felt bad for Peachy, but he had been quite a pain to deal with.
“We birds, we’re hatched to be pets. Once we’re hatched we’re sent off to a pet store or directly to someone’s home. We’re put in a cage, maybe taken out every now and again. After many years we die. That’s just how it is.”
Kirbie sighed. Even though Peachy had just about made him lose his mind, he felt awkward crushing his childish dreams.
Sure enough, Peachy looked heartbroken and his wings fell to his side. All of his youthful, exciting energy was gone.
Despite how pitiful Peachy looked, Kirbie knew that he would need to learn the truth someday. Reality hurts sometimes, but it’s better to face it young, he thought.
Peachy walked to the other corner of the cage and slumped down, closing his eyes tight. Kirbie couldn’t be right. Could he? he thought to himself.
Kirbie saw a little girl pointing to Peachy’s cage worriedly.
“Daddy, is the little birdy dead?”
“Honey,” he heard the father respond, “I don’t know, let’s get an employee.”
He heard their footsteps recede and after a few minutes, they were back.
“Oh dear, thank you for telling me about the bird. I’ll take care of him,” said a bored voice.
Oh no, I hope that’s not Melissa, Peachy thought.
“Why don’t you look at this bird? He’s beautiful isn’t he?” said Melissa with a thin smile as she pointed to Kirbie’s cage.
Well, I suppose I am beautiful, Peachy thought smugly, especially in comparison to him.
The little girl’s dad looked at Kirbie skeptically.
“If you say so,” he replied uncomfortably.
Rude. I can’t believe he’d say something like that! Peachy thought, What does he know anyway?
The little girl curled her nose and made a face.
Kirbie looked down dejectedly, used to this treatment. It’s no wonder I’ve been here for 3 years, he thought.
“Well, why don’t we check you out?” Melissa turned towards Peachy’s cage.
Ugh, leave me alone you villain! Peachy thought, his eyes still closed.
She inserted a key into the cage lock. Peachy heard the cage door open slowly.
“Aww, come here little birdy, you’ll be alright,” Melissa said hopefully.
Peachy felt her disgusting hands grab him. Suddenly he opened his eyes and realized:
I’m out of the cage! I can escape now. I just have to fly!
As Melissa rolled him over, examining him, Peachy saw his chance and took it. He spread his wings and flew right out of Melissa’s hand. He looked back at her smugly.
Hope I never see you again, witch! Peachy thought to himself.
Suddenly, there was a bang and Peachy fell to the ground. Peachy had run straight into the cage wire of a cat’s cage. Melissa stared for a moment before she realized what had happened. She ran over to Peachy, hoping he was still alive. The cat was sticking his paw through the wire, poking at the bird.
“Shoo! Shoo! Don’t touch him!” Melissa said, trying to keep the cat’s paw off him.
Melissa scooped Peachy up in her hands and hurried him to the back of the store.
“Please be okay, please be okay, please be okay,” she muttered rapidly under her breath.
She laid Peachy on the counter in the back of the store and called the veterinarian. Melissa grabbed some blankets and made a small nest and laid Peachy in it. She got on her phone and tried to find information on what to do with a hurt bird.
“I’m so gonna get fired,” Melissa muttered sadly.
Thankfully the veterinarian's office was just across the street from the pet store and she got there very quickly.
“Goodness, what on earth happened?” the vet said when she arrived.
“This crazy bird flew out of my hands and straight into the cat’s wire cage!” Melissa said.
“Into the cage! With the cat!” the vet exclaimed.
“Well, not exactly, he was looking back at me for some reason and flew into the wire. Like, he didn’t go into the cage, but crashed,” Melissa was still a little shocked herself and was having trouble relaying the events.
Melissa pointed to the nest of soft blankets she’d made for him.
“I tried to keep him safe and comfortable after the injury. I didn’t know what to do. Is he gonna be okay?” Melissa sounded very worried about Peachy.
The vet carefully examined Peachy, nodding and scribbling notes on her clipboard.
“Hmmm,” the vet paused, “hmmmm.”
“Good gracious! Is he gonna be okay or not?” Melissa was losing her mind with the vet humming and scribbling on the clipboard.
“You seem awfully worried about this poor bird. Is he yours?”
“Well, no,” Melissa replied, “but he seems very nice. I’m sure he’d make a great pet.”
“I have good news for you. He didn’t hurt himself very badly,” the vet said.
“Just don’t cage him with any other birds unless I say so. I’ll come in once a week to check on him. He has a minor bruise on his head, but he must not have been going very fast because that’s it.”
The vet walked out of the room before Melissa could ask any more questions.
“Well, I guess you’re going back in your cage little buddy,” Melissa said.
Melissa carried Peachy back to his cage and laid him on the aspen bedding. She walked away to go deal with some customers.
As soon as Peachy couldn’t hear her footsteps anymore, he opened one eye. He heard Kirbie sniffling next to him. Peachy stood up and walked over to the side of his cage near Kirbie.
“Hey, what’s wrong?” Peachy asked.
“What the heck! You’re alive!” Kirbie looked shocked and quickly composed himself.
“Were you crying?” Peachy asked.
“No!” Kirbie said quickly.
“I thought you didn’t like me,” Peachy said, confused.
“What? I never said that,” Kirbie answered.
Peachy flew up to his perch.
Wow, my head really hurts, Peachy thought.
“Hey! Hey! Hey!”
“What?” Kirbie said.
“I just had an idea.”
“Oh dear, what is it?”
Kirbie rolled his eyes.
“We should escape!”
“Are you serious!” Kirbie replied, shocked. “I’m done, you’re insane, go to bed!”