She trotted into the kitchen, one thought hammering in beats of single letters in her brain: C O F F E E! The morning still clinging to her, sticking to every fiber, a net pulling on her, seducing her to hide within the sheets of her bed. A Siren calling her to come back and turn around, to jump into the deep darkness of her unlit bedroom. Still some residue of warmth left after the short sleep. This morning, however, she resisted the urge, stayed strong and with a proud smack on the button she initiated the brewing of her reward. The water being heated, the subtle prelude, the blubbery “brug brug” of it running through the dry yet aromatic powder; a symphony and every drip and drop of coffee a crescendo! Fluid rising in the empty jar eventually filling it with the magical concoction.
Of course, Henry had already noticed her and made himself known by delivering a morning hello in a deeper pitch than usual- well aware he might get no special treat if he annoyed her after another long night. “Good mornin’ Henry my love. I’m fine thank you. Did I wake you last night?” He looked at her in an almost annoyed way and answered with a short chirp. “Dear god, I am SO sorry honey! Can I make it up to you?” She fished a little birdseed stick out of the cupboard and pinned it on one side of Henry’s open cage door. Her feathery companion made an effort not to seem too excited about it and jumped on the tiny swing at the top of the cage, unfathomed by the food he usually craved. Not this time. Henry only used his swing when completely bored or, as in this case, slightly angered. She poured the gold-brown fluid into her Sailor Moon cup, an almost pornographic look on her face, observing the density of the elixir as it crashed against the porcelain cliffs, covered by a Japanese schoolgirl with literal astronomical powers. A satisfied look on her face, she observed the slithering steam serpents, winding and twirling out of the cup and into the stream of daylight coming through the window, vanishing. “I had a wonderful evening if that’s what you’re asking” she continued flippantly with a look at Henry, who was still ignoring her and was instead focusing all of his attention on moving back and forth on his swing, passive-aggressively. “Oh okay, be like that!” She took a large sip from the cup and snapped her head away from the birdcage, so as to deny him any eye contact. That finally did the trick. The canary stopped swinging and stared at the black curls at the nape of her neck. Henry twittered a few words of wisdom in her direction and started gaining momentum on the swing again. “You’re probably right… I did say sorry though!” She paused and finished the first of what would become four cups of morning coffee. Then, she waited for Henry to give the slightest glimpse in her direction and started the moment he looked her way. “Now that I’ve got your attention again, I met a guy last night.” Henry looked up and would’ve raised both brows in exhaustion, but, just in time, he remembered he didn’t have any. Instead, he spread his wings and raised them in a jazz-handsy motion doing his best Astaire. “You are not impressed, I know but he has this cute cat and wants to bring her around some time. We want to try a recipe for chicken curry. You should have some as well.” Henry jumped at the word ‘cat’ ignoring the implied cannibalism but knew she was baiting him so he returned to his steely guard, unimpressed like a cool kid in a leather jacket, smoking and leaning against a wall with a “whatever” haircut and attitude. “No, but really he seems like a nice guy. At least I think he is. He should be, right? Oh god, what if he isn’t? What if he’s a psycho. Do I have a date with Norman and his mother?!” Henry had witnessed this behavior too often in the past few months so he just let her figure it out for herself. It usually took her about five minutes of monologuing through all kinds of silliness, until she returned to being as close to normal as a person talking to a bird can be.
“A completely hypothetical question!” She said, raising her hand, ready to be schooled by her light-boned roommate. “If a guy tells you that you are as cute as a button, does that mean cute as in you look nice, cute, as in let’s do it here and now, or cute as in you could be my little sister?” Henry was still leaning against the wall, puffing away on his imaginary cigarette to the sound of Billy Idol, way more than a typical bird brain can handle. At least that’s what they want us to think. She caught him in a cool swagger, his claw moving to his beak from time to time, unaware of her. “Are you dream-smoking again? I can’t support this, and besides, I asked you a question mister! That threw him out of thought, unstable on the swing until he recovered, defaulting back into cool canary mode. He uttered a few short words, after all, he knew what she wanted to hear. “Alright, that’s a start!” She said, while calming down with another cup o’ C. “Henry, may I ask….” She seemed uncomfortable again. He raised his head a bit, signaling that she had his full attention. “You have it all, charisma, money, the looks of Charlie Parker… Why are you single?” Henry slowly made his way out of the cage and jumped and landed on Sailor Mars. He looked his roommate in the eye and she knew what he was about to say. He was married to his work, that that swing in his cage wasn’t going to move itself and that there were only so many pigeons with the right education and lifestyle in the city. She had talked to him about getting another roommate and sharing his room, but Henry had made it very clear that was absolutely out of the question. He liked the way they worked as a duo, occasionally falling asleep on the couch after a movie or six, cooking food together, throwing uncooked lobster at each other… the usual. Henry wouldn’t even get jealous over the guys she brought over. He made sure they’d know who was living with her though. But he had toned it down after that incident… the night Henry had shoved her dates phone out of the window and accidently hit the windshield of the guys car with it. The glass of the phone, tiny diamonds in between the broken window glass, spread neatly across the leather seats. She couldn’t convince the guy that Henry did it. And of course it didn’t help that he called it a smart bomb. Coincidentally, it didn’t work out with the guy. Not because of Henry though. Never because of him. Okay, maybe when it was convenient. More often than not, it was… but not with the new guy, she promised. He was different. She couldn’t wait to see him again. Only four more days, six hours, twelve minutes and thirty two, thirty one, thirty seconds, until she would see him again. And Henry? He would remain silent, waiting, minding his own business. Until the next guy came along, and the next and after that, the next. And they’d think: “That bird wouldn’t even harm a fly!”
Julian was listening to Queens of the Stoneage, Emiliana Torrini and Bobby McFerrin while writing this.