After a short, but necessary, break, I am back at my writing spot. I have fulfilled my filial duties to my mother, and my sociable duties to far-flung friends, and have been busy preparing a new piece of flash fiction for the blog. And for your perusal.
This week it’s parrots. If you’ve ever been to San Francisco, or are lucky enough to reside there, you probably know all about the city’s resident parrots. They are a thrilling sight (and sound) if you’re not expecting them. I encountered them amongst the art deco buildings near Telegraph Hill where they played in the palm trees. I had written a much longer story using the birds as inspiration, but was never happy with it. However, I still wanted to include them in my writing, and this story occurred to me, as they do.
If stories reflect moods, I’ve no idea what was going on with me yesterday when I wrote this.
By the way, if you think you might not get the chance to visit San Francisco, there is a flock of parrots residing in the vicinity of Heathrow Airport. I saw them flying down the Northern Perimeter Road one day. I kid you not.
That first afternoon when the parrot landed on his open window ledge, Peter took no time at all in naming him. It seemed the obvious choice, and if others thought it clichéd and lacking in imagination, well, that was their problem. Percy just sounded right for him, decided Peter, as he watched his new friend preening his bright green feathers. Peter and Percy. Percy and Peter. Whichever way you said it, it was perfect; like brothers; or twins.
Percy spent his first visit nibbling the snacks that Peter laid out for him on the window ledge whilst Peter went about his own business inside. After a while, Percy flew back up to the top of Telegraph Hill to join the rest of his flock.
The next day, when Peter lay down on his bed, Percy flew in to the bedroom and perched on the lampshade. He rocked impatiently from claw to claw for a while before finally jumping down onto the pillow. Once there, Percy began gently nibbling Peter’s ear. It tickled a bit, but as Percy appeared to enjoy it, he let him carry on. Having satisfied his nibbling urge, Percy flew out of the bedroom to spend the rest of the day roosting and squawking; as parrots are wont to do.
When he made his now regular appearance the day after, Peter had left some treats outside the window and was already on his bed. Percy perused the tidbits, selecting a couple of choice morsels, and then flew straight over to the pillow. He wobbled awkwardly to Peter’s ear and lent forward.
‘I want to show you something,’ he said, ‘come on.’
Peter got up from the bed and followed Percy to the window. He watched as the parrot spread his wings and swooped down towards the courtyard.
‘Come on!’ shouted Percy as he soared back up to the bedroom, ‘what are you waiting for?’
Peter climbed out onto the window ledge and sat down.
‘Last one to Alcatraz loses!’ yelled Percy, already some distance away.
Peter pushed himself off the ledge and followed his friend out towards the Bay. As he flew, he felt the rush of the air. His shirt billowed around him like a sail turned into the wind and as they zoomed low over the waves, fine spray coated his face in a salty veil.
The island fortress loomed rapidly ahead, and just as Peter thought they would smash into its razor sharp rocks, Percy led him up and over and away into the sky above.
‘Not tired yet are you?’ shouted Percy, veering away towards the bridge, ‘you’ll love this!’
Soon, they were weaving their way at speed through the bridge’s supports, like two bobbins pulling invisible threads. Peter glanced at the cars below and wondered whether their drivers could see him as he flew.
‘Time to go!’ squawked Percy, ‘fog’s rolling in.’
The next day, Percy showed him the majestic peaks of the Sierra Nevada, and they learned to soar on the thermals with the eagles. In the following days they flew ever further and ever faster, southwards towards Percy’s ancestral lands in the tropics, then northwards over the freezing wilderness of Alaska. They traced the winding serpent of the Colorado through its bottomless canyons and dodged the fluking tails of humpbacks far out in the ocean.
Throughout it all Peter followed the green flash of the parrot’s feathers faithfully, always certain of a new vision under wide skies. He lived for these hours, spending his nights dreaming of the day’s adventures; each one a leap of faith into the unknown.
One day, Percy didn’t appear at the window at his usual time. Peter waited for a while; even laid out some extra treats which he knew to be some of Percy’s favourites. He peered out as a large flock of parrots flew past, hopeful of seeing Percy peel away and head towards the window. But he didn’t.
Towards dusk, Peter became impatient, so lay down and found a vein. Before long he’d made up his mind to try flying solo.
As he fell, his foot brushed a green feather from the ledge which caught on a breeze and gently floated away.
© flyingscribbler 2011
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